A Relationship Counselor’s 5 Things You Must Know About Someone Before Marriage

Knowing a partner intimately before marriage seems like common sense, and something we all try our best to do. But what are the specific questions we should all be asking? What red flags and positive signs should we look out for before we tie the knot? To find some answers, I spoke to relationship counselor Lindsay Kriger and, in partnership with 20th Century Fox for their upcoming film Gone Girl, got her view on what we absolutely must know about someone before marriage.

What does the future — and marriage itself — look like to him?

Before you tie the knot it’s important to learn your man’s plan so that you know if you can get on board with it. Does he see himself living in the city or the suburbs? Does he see himself with kids? If so, when? Does he see himself making a career change? What are his goals? Can you get behind them? One of the most important things for a woman is to be able to respect and admire her man. You want him to be your hero and he wants nothing more than to be yours. All that time spent watching superhero movies was not for nothing!

And marriage looks like different things to different people- especially today. It’s important to find out what your man (and what you) expect this partnership to look like. What roles do you expect each other to take on? Does he expect you to quit your job and stay home with the kids? Does he expect you to work and for the family to have a double income? Is this something that you want? Does he expect you to cook every night- the way his mother did for his father or would he rather eat out? Who is responsible for what in the house? Does one person take care of the household finances?

What are his top five values, and do they align with yours?

According to Dr. Jon Gottman, there is no greater indicator for whether or not a couple will divorce than how they handle conflict. As my spiritual mother and mentor, Karen Salmansohn, always says, your relationship is only as strong as your weakest moments. Therefore, it is important that both you and your partner get good at handling conflicts. If your man avoids conflict, in other words, if he “stonewalls,” this can lead to a lot of hurt feelings. However, if your man is growth oriented and values solving conflicts in a healthy way, he will be open to listening and problem solving with you and get this- your conflicts can actually work to strengthen your relationship!

How does he handle conflict, and what are his deal breakers?

All of our decisions are based off of our core values. Conflicting values can be a major source of conflict in a relationship. For example, if you value your TV time with The Kardashians and your boo values his sanity, you two might have a problem. Unfortunately, the problems can get a little more serious than this. For example, if you value keeping the Sabbath and your man values his career and feels he must work on the weekend- we now have a case of conflicting values that needs to be worked out. A great idea for couples is to share their top 5 values with each other and to then come up with a combined list of 5 values that expresses the life they intend to live together.

The divorce rate is at an all time high with over 50% of couples calling it quits. Marriage is not easy, however, no one ever said it was going to be! My grandmother once said, “every married couple could have been divorced at one point or another.” Find out what problems are absolute no’s and how committed he is to working things through them if times get tough. Would he be willing to seek help if need be?

What don’t you like about him, and if these things never changed, would you still take him as he is?

Until you know what you don’t like about him and can accept these things you can’t truly love someone. We all have our imperfections- learn to love him with his. We’re so used to being able to custom-order everything today, from our food to our technology, that we’ve become a little spoiled. Such easy, personal-taste customization is simply not possible with men. Men are “as is” merchandise. Meaning, they come as they are, take ‘em or leave ‘em. There is fine line between “guiding a man to become a better version of himself” and “trying to force a dude to be what you want him to be.” When we try to change a man, the end result is most always disappointing. We try, and we try, and then Whack – it hits us right over the head and straight in the heart that we can’t change who he is. If you don’t love the person you are dating as they are with the good and the bad- it’s time to say next.

Does he value what you give to him?

Men and women are always worried about, “What do we have in common, do we both play tennis?” It is much more important that you have in common that what you have to give, they value. By value, I mean appreciate. (Appreciate means to increase the value of). Often, we get ourselves into relationships where what we want to give isn’t valued by the other person and what we say is, “He doesn’t appreciate me.” But we didn’t find out- is this a man who appreciates backrubs? Is this a man who appreciates a home cooked meal? Is this a man that appreciates the income that I bring in? If you look at your past relationships, you will find that you were the most frustrated when what you wanted to give wasn’t valued and you were the most fulfilled when it was valued. Figure out what you want to give so you can then find out does the other person want to get that. This sets the foundation for a sustainable relationship. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post is brought to you by 20th Century Fox, for their upcoming film ‘Gone Girl.’

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Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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