Something that ends a lot of relationships is the absence of big relationship questions early on. It is nice to think that all a relationship needs to last is love. It is a nice idea and great for entertainment value, but it isn’t realistic.
Relationships need more than passion, love, and even trust to work out. Compromises are often the backbone of relationships.
And if you or your partner aren’t willing to compromise or respect the other’s opinions or beliefs, things can easily go south.
[Read: Healthy relationship expectations that define a good love life]
Why you should answer the big relationship questions early
Let’s get this straight. I’m not saying you should be nailing down future plans on date number one, but discussing dealbreakers is important.
If you know you want to have a family one day, no matter the method, and the person you’re dating never wants children, how are you going to figure that out? If you believe strongly in your faith and want to raise your children that way, would you need a partner who shares that faith?
And if these things aren’t discussed before living together or getting engaged, it can create a real issue. Not only would ending things be more emotionally draining, but it is likely you would avoid these topics to keep the peace.
Many couples know there is something that could break their relationship, yet they choose to push it off until later. By then they are sharing a mortgage, a pet, and maybe even children.
[Read: The biggest relationship deal breakers to watch out for]
This can lead to a lot of resentment in a relationship. It can also end things in a negative way rather than a respectful ending earlier when you’re both less likely to be hurt.
If you talk about these things early, you can come to terms with the fact that you may not work and part ways as friends or at least on good terms. Once feelings and lives are involved and these big relationship questions haven’t been answered, things get messy.
One of my closest friends dated someone for years and thought the next step was to get engaged. When he asked, she said yes. She knew he had beliefs different from hers, but they never really spoke about it before so it didn’t seem like a huge problem.
But as wedding plans progressed, she imagined what the future would be like with him. He wanted to raise his children with Catholic beliefs that didn’t align with her world view. He wasn’t willing to compromise and neither was she.
He also didn’t believe in living together before marriage which she thought was necessary. These things never came up naturally or because they both avoided them to prevent an argument or breakup.
By the time she realized that this relationship wouldn’t make her happy in the long run, there was a lot to consider. Their families were involved, they had put deposits down and invited people, her bridesmaid bought their dress, etc.
This made her question her desires and happiness. She was willing to go through with it to not burden those around her when marrying someone wrong could affect her entire life.
[Read: Why you should listen to your cold feet and reconsider marriage]
Thankfully she made the right choice and ended things long before the wedding day, but all of it was avoidable with an honest conversation about those big relationship questions earlier.
Happily, things worked out wonderfully for her. Within a year of ending that relationship, she adopted a dog, met a great guy at work, bought a house, married that great guy, and is now expecting her first child.
That wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t go through what she went through, but she would offer anyone the same advice I’m giving you. Talking about these things sooner rather than later will save you a lot of heartache.
And one of the reasons she knew her now-husband was the one was because they shared their answers to the big relationship questions in the first month of dating. Their future plans, desires, and beliefs lined up in a way that gave them peace and clarity.
Now, I hope I’ve convinced you of how important it is to ask the big relationship questions early on. But, what exactly are the big relationship questions?
Big relationship questions
The big relationship questions may be different for everyone. What is vital to some may not worry others.
But, it is important not to assume these things no matter how sure you are. Say you and your partner travel a lot. You may think that is the plan for years to come. But they may want to do this now before settling down in the suburbs with a family.
Talking about this to ensure you’re on the same page will give you peace of mind and assurance you are both on the right path.
#1 Marriage? Do you want to get married? Are you happy without that event? Do you want to be married before starting a family? [Read: Healthily ever after? Examining the benefits of marriage]
#2 Kids? Do you both want kids? Can you both have kids? Are you open to adoption or fostering? Do you want to adopt regardless of fertility?
#3 Gender roles? I’ve known couples that happily had a dual-income household only to get married and have things change. The husband expected his wife to quit her job and stay home. Who will take care of the house and who will work? Will you split chores? Will you share finances?
#4 Debt? I’m sure it is no surprise that finances lead to a lot of breakups. So, talk about your financial status. Do you have savings? Are you in debt? Is it credit card debt or student loans? What are your plans to pay them off?
#5 Religion? I know a lot of happy couples who follow different religious teachings. They have the same outlook on life and ethics. When they have kids, they will teach them both religions and when they are old enough to choose what they believe, they will.
But not all people are so open-minded. Do you want to raise your children as you were raised? Do you want to teach them about different religions or forego religion for something else?
#6 Politics? This is again not a dealbreaker for everyone. Some people think it is a difference of opinion and can separate that. Others can’t. Ignoring politics altogether is a privilege. If you believe in gay rights, safe access to abortion, and universal healthcare while your partner is more conservative, how will that work?
#7 Extended family? Will you be visiting your family during the holidays or staying at home? What if a parent becomes ill or can’t live on their own? Will you take them in?
#8 Moving? Once you are settled do you plan to stay there? If one of you gets a job offer, are you willing to move?
#9 Lifestyle? Do you want a big house? Do you prefer the city, suburbs, or a rural area? Or do you want a simple life at home or do you want to travel a lot and go on adventures?
#10 Pets? Do you want a lot of pets? Do you want to foster animals? Is your partner allergic or maybe even afraid of certain animals? [Read: Adopting a pet together? Are you really ready?]
#11 Raising kids? Maybe you both want kids, but how will you raise them? Do you want to protect them from harsh realities until a certain age or introduce them to these things young?
Will you accept their choices and support them for who they are? Will you let them date in high school? Or will you force college on them or let them make a plan? [Read: 12 questions to ask before marriage to know if they’re the one]
#15 End of life wishes? This is morbid and no one wants to talk about it. You should know what your partner’s wishes are. Do they have a do not resuscitate (DNR) order? Do they want to be cremated or buried? Are they an organ donor?
With this, you know what is important to you. Some things I may not have mentioned. But, if you know something will come up down the line or affect your happiness, bring it up. And be sure your partner feels comfortable doing the same.
[Read: The 20 sure signs you’re either ready for a relationship or totally unprepared]
These big relationship questions can make or break a couple. Are you ready to go to the next level with them?
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