1. Long distance prospects. Your significant other mentions a job opportunity that became available. It’s a unique position to advance his or her career and will require a move to a different time zone. Perhaps you’ve been interested in going to school on the other side of the country. Or living in another country for a fixed or unlimited amount of time. Are you willing to try a long distance relationship? Are you the type of couple that can brave not being together for long periods of time? Do you trust each other? Or yourself in terms of staying faithful? A decision to do long distance or to move together to a new city brings an enormous amount of change to a relationship. It forces both parties to figure out where things are headed and if you’ll be arriving there together or separated.
2. Exclusivity. If you haven’t had “the talk” yet, prepare yourself for all scenarios. Women and men don’t often speak the same language when it comes to the expectations around becoming a committed couple. If you are at the point where you want to only be with your significant other but he or she is perfectly happy to keep seeing others, you’ve reached an impassable roadblock. You may tell yourself that you’re fine with keeping things casual, but we all know that this is impossible and that ultimately you’ll be hurting repeatedly when his or her feelings don’t change down the road. So have the talk, become exclusive or find someone that will.
3. Moving in together. You know how they say that the hardest year of marriage is the first? They were definitely talking about couples who hadn’t lived together before getting married. When you move in together, you see the person behind the curtain – everything from the unwashed face when they wake up, their dirty laundry and their refusal to put dishes in the dishwasher – it’s all out on full display. You’ll either learn to adapt to co-habitation or it will completely tear apart your relationship.
4. To breed or not to breed. The decision to have children is a critical one. Your lives get completely turned upside down and you have a life depending on your physically, emotionally and financially for the indefinite future. If you’ve already discussed this important tpic and decided that babies aren’t in your future, then great. Marrying someone with the thought that you can change his or her mind later is never a good approach. If you’re undecided, it’s best to get it all out on the table.
5. Money. You’ve got it. He likes to spend it. Or she has an expensive clothing and purse habit. You want a place together, savings and furniture but can’t agree on what to cut back on. Money is also a touchy subject and is unfortunately a necessary topic discussion for every couple thinking about a future together. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or if you’re just searching for a way to get a paycheck, stresses can run high when there are lots of bills to pay. You’ve got to have the same basic approach to money and be able to make decisions about where your funds go or there will be many fights down the road and expensive disagreements.
6. Bedroom issues. It’s best to figure out sooner, rather than later, if your interests are aligned under the sheets. If one person likes to be tied up and chains and run around with Vaseline all over his body with feathers attached, compatibility could be an issue for a more reserved partner. Unfortunately, you don’t find out some of these odd sexual behavior fantasies until you’re in a full-fledged relationship. You may be willing to try new things but if toe-sucking, role playing and various wax-dipping of body parts isn’t your thing, it’s time to move on. On the other hand, you may enjoy chasing feathered and Vaselined people around in which case, it’s quite obvious you’ve found your soul mate. All the power to you.
7. Commitment issues. We’ve all been there. All seems to be going well in a relationship when one partner is incapable of moving forward. He or she is unwilling to move in, get engaged or get married no matter how long you’ve been together with them. This person could promise you that he or she just needs more time, or perhaps they’re just “too busy” and can’t talk about it right now. You can give this person an ultimatum, but is it really best to force someone into a life long decision? If you’re both trouble deciding on “forever,” it’s best to wait it out. But if the commitment issues are one side, it’s probably time to cut ties.
8. How to Fight Fair. Every couple has their disagreements. For my husband and I, it’s about who will walk the dog at 10 PM, whose turn it is to change a poopy diaper and who sleeps less (it’s always me. I ALWAYS sleep less). It’s how you voice your disagreement and resolve the issue that will determine if you have what it takes to survive long term. If you come out of an argument feeling understood and stronger as a unit than before, you’re in good shape. If you feel like you want to strangle your significant other ever so slightly, it’s probably a sign that you should work on your conflict strategy.
9. When the Shizz Hits the Fan. There will always be some friends who will seemingly sail through life with no major hiccups or hardships. For the majority of us, however, a personal crisis will strike. Whether that’s getting sick, losing a job, losing a close relative or friend – these moments strike us like bowling pins and haunt us in the days ahead. A significant other has a critical choice to make in that time of need – to be there or not to be there. If he or she chooses to step up and be supportive, it is easier to trust and invest in the relationship. If they abandon ship when things are rough, you’ve got your answer.
10. Gas and human moments. Ok, so maybe gas hasn’t literally made or killed a relationship. But once bodily functions aren’t masked in a relationship, you’re either going to laugh, roll your eyes or head for the hills. If you find yourself still in love after witnessing your significant other’s morning breath, unwashed face, unshaven face or legs, bathroom needs, eating habits, lack of flossing or slobbish tendencies, you’re basically golden. Love certainly is blind and smells like roses all the time.
11. Addictions. It may come out that you’re dating someone with a gambling problem. A nicotine addiction. Drug addiction. An alcoholic. Will any sort of physical or mental disease send you running in the other direction? Or will you accept this part of your partner because you love all of him / her?
12. Jealousy. You find out that your significant other still keeps in touch with former girlfriends. You may find him innocently texting with female co-workers about a work event. If this sort of scenario doesn’t keep you up at night, you’re all good. If you’re tossing and turning and checking your significant other’s emails and credit card statement, you’ve got a problem.
13. Professional ambitions and successes. Just as you can tell a ton about the potential for a future partner when times are rough, you’ll also be able to measure them up in good times. When seeking a high power position at a company, does your significant other support you? Does he or she adjust his / her schedule to accommodate for your potentially long working hours? If you got promoted to a role that required working nights and weekends, could your relationship survive?
14. In-Law Quality Check. You ARE marrying the family when you marry the person. So do your homework and see what you’re getting into. Particularly if the family lives close by. If your in-laws display erratic or hostile behavior, it’s a huge red flag. You must do your homework in this area to investigate just how controlled and affected your significant other is by his or her family.
15. Overall Future Plans. Can you see this person in your life down the road? Do you have the same goals in mind for where to live, how to raise your family and what religious values you will share? Would you be willing to compromise on your dreams for the survival of your relationship? Compatibility goes a long way in determining the sticking power of a relationship. Having the tough talks early will save everybody time and aggravation.