Making decisions are hard. We have more access to information and statistics to help us make decisions, but picking romantic partners isn’t just about science. It’s about connection, love, and committing to building something together. So how do we work out if we can make it work? These 15 questions will help bring some clarity.
If you’ve ever read anything else on this website, you’ll know that I’m really passionate about us all being intentional in our relationships and relationship choices. Relationships are meant to be enjoyed, but I believe thinking things through and being purposeful is part of creating the enjoyment.
My friend asked me the other day how my marriage was going. Thankfully, I could say it was really good and we are really happy. The only time we were struggling a bit was when we stopped being intentional, started taking it for granted, and we had to re-focus on our intentionality.
15 Tried and Tested Questions
After chatting to my friend, I came across these 15 questions in a great article by Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr., the renowned psychology professor and relationship scientist.
These questions can help us to focus on what’s important
He listed 15 questions based on his and other people’s research on love and healthy relationships. He acknowledges relationships aren’t based purely on science, but these questions can help us to focus on what is important, and help us decide if there is a real and authentic connection there.
So here are the questions worth asking ourselves and each other, to see if our relationship is healthy, and on the path to being mutually fulfilling:
1) Does your partner make you a better person, and do you do the same for them?
2) Are you and your partner both comfortable with sharing feelings, relying on each other, being close, and able to avoid worrying about the other person leaving?
3) Do you and your partner accept each other for who you are, without trying to change each other?
4) When disagreements arise, do you and your partner communicate respectfully and without contempt or negativity?
5) Do you and your partner share decision-making, power, and influence in the relationship?
6) Is your partner your best friend, and are you theirs?
7) Do you and your partner think more in terms of “we” and “us,” rather than “you” and “I”?
8) Would you and your partner trust each other with the passwords to social media and bank accounts?
9) Do you and your partner have good opinions of each other – without having an overinflated positive view?
10) Do your close friends, as well as your partner’s, think you have a great relationship that will stand the test of time?
11) Is your relationship free of red flags like cheating, jealousy and controlling behaviour?
12) Do you and your partner share the same values when it comes to politics, religion, the importance of marriage, the desire to have kids (or not) and how to parent?
13) Are you and your partner willing to sacrifice your own needs, desires, and goals for each other (without being a doormat)?
14) Do you and your partner both have agreeable and emotionally stable personalities?
15) What are you and your partner’s views on sex, and are you thinking about it in a healthy way?
I think this list is really helpful because it’s focused on couples building something together, rather than on ‘What can I get out of this?’. But there are some questions I think need to be tweaked or explained slightly.
As a Christian, I believe that God created sex and wants to bless us with it in the right context. (Read God Created Sex and Sexual Desire, Honest!).
Originally, the last question on the list said: ‘Are you and your partner sexually compatible?’ But for me, who thinks committing/ re-committing to waiting until marriage ’til sex is God’s best for us, this important question wasn’t framed quite right.
Sexual compatibility and satisfaction is more to do with how we view sex
I say this because people often think ‘sexual satisfaction’ means sex with lots of people, which then means they’ll be happy. However, research suggests sexual compatibility and satisfaction is more to do with how we view sex, rather than what experiences we’ve had. (Read I’m Getting Married, I’ll Be Having Sex Soon….Help!)
So I believe discussing views and values around sex is more important when thinking about building healthy relationships, and will be more beneficial.
Best Friend, Not Only Friend
I also think it’s worth emphasising that question 6 says ‘Is your partner your best friend?’, rather than ’your only friend’. Often we can ignore other friendships and expect our romantic relationships to be the source of all our comfort and worth. Which it can never be.
Maintaining and investing in our friendships is important, and also makes our romantic relationship stronger. (Read I Can’t Come, I’m With My Girlfriend, Again!)
Number 14 says ‘Do you and your partner both have agreeable and emotionally stable personalities?’. Now, in a world where mental health is still often taboo but affects so many people, this question can be misinterpreted.
Being willing to support each other
I would emphasise that it doesn’t mean we need to be perfect, or never struggle emotionally, or have personalities that are totally complimentary or identical. It’s more about being willing to support each other and deciding to be purposeful about learning to do that better.
Perfection isn’t needed, but a commitment to making it work is. (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)
You may be dating, engaged, looking for love, or married. You may have some concerns, be keen to make a good relationship great, or just want to keep building something worth having.
Imagine if we used these questions to help us make sure we were building something together, in a selfless, mutually enjoyable, and fulfilling way. How amazing would it be, if we took practical steps, to make sure we could answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions?
What is the first thing you need to do after reading these questions? Comments welcomed below.