“Before You Tie the Knot” Checklist

kevin:petra

1. You are attracted to each other.

We start our relationships for a number of reasons. These reasons include physical attraction. While attraction will probably ebb and flow throughout the life of the relationship, you generally have to have it to begin with, if you are going to have it later. If either of you don’t have it with the other, then either it isn’t important to the two of you, or there is some reason you are willing to sacrifice it. What is that reason? Will you be happy spending 30 years with somebody you don’t want to cuddle or have sex with?

2.  You feel safe with and trust each other.

Relationships fill a very important need for safe and trusting connection. Without this sense of safety, your relationship will not nourish you. It will instead be a source of stress. If you don’t have safety and trust with your partner, what is going on? What are you tolerating? Is there something you need to resolve before this can develop? If not, why are you marrying this person?

3.  You don’t feel a need to keep secrets with each other. You aren’t walking on eggshells or afraid to talk about certain subjects.

This is another level of safety. If you are afraid to discuss something with your partner, is it a fear related to your past, or is your partner volatile and emotionally or physically dangerous? How can your partner be you best friend, if you can’t be open? How can you be your partner’s best friend if you don’t share?

4.  You apologize to each other if you make a mistake.

Apologizing can be difficult. It means you made a mistake. But often it brings up feelings of shame, or being bad. Apologizing is important. It means you can be humble, you don’t always have to be right, and that you care when you hurt your partner.

5.  You feel respect for each other and treat each other with respect.

Feeling respect means that you recognize your partner as more than somebody who is there just to meet your needs, but see him or her as a valuable person in his or her own right, even if that means they do not always do what you want. If you don’t feel respect for your partner, you are likely to not value who they are beyond what they can give to you. If your partner doesn’t respect you, where is your self-respect? If this ingredient is missing, why is this person your partner?

6.  You not only love each other, you like each other.

Relationships usually start out “in love”. When that fades, do you have somebody you like as your partner? You need this to outweigh the parts of your relationship that will be difficult or annoying.

7.  You laugh together; things can be light and fun.

Laughter makes us feel happy and connected. It is the opposite of drudgery, boredom and being overly serious. It is an important quality to balance out the more difficult parts. Is it part of your relationship, or is everything serious or problematic? Can you imagine your relationship stretching into the future without it?

8.  You can talk about most things together.

Okay maybe you disagree about some things, but you can still talk about them, or about that you disagree. Even if there are hotspots, you are still able to navigate through them. Perhaps you think in different ways or work in different worlds, but there is some overlap in your mental worlds. You speak enough of the same language that communication works.

9.  You both understand and feel understood by each other.

You know who your partner is. Your partner knows who you are. You “get” each other. In a sense you are kindred spirits. This quality makes a relationship flow. Without it, at times you will feel as if you are going upstream against the current.

10.  You feel like your partner makes you a better person.

Some people in our lives expand us. They cause us to grow. They help us see things in ourselves or the world that we hadn’t seen previously, or act in ways that are new for us. This is a really nice quality to have in any relationship.

11.  You have similar visions of the future of your life together and have talked about them.

One partner wants to be a farmer and the other can’t leave the city. They don’t find out until a year into their marriage. While extreme, this can happen. Do you share the same vision for your life together? Kids or not, income, who works etc. Have you talked about it? Are you on the same page?

© 2008 - 2018 Jennifer Lehr, MFT