3.) Extended family
It’s often said that we don’t just marry the person, but their family. In the best situations, both families get along with one another which makes family gatherings and sharing holidays, birthdays, and other special days, much easier. Many of us have traditions that we hope to continue once married. Wedding these and wanting things to ‘be fair’ can at times create friction. To begin, do your families get along? Are the differences significant? Do you come from different religious backgrounds and if so, how will this affect celebrations?
4.) Core Values
The values we establish to create the foundation from which we make decisions throughout our life. They are the things we believe are important and dictate how we live and work. They determine your priorities and in many ways, measure the way in which your life is turning out the way you want (or not). Values are usually fairly stable over time but don’t necessarily have strict boundaries or limits. Some values may change over time as your life circumstances change (for example, work/life balance once you start a family). You should ask yourself what are my values? Work/life balance, money, ‘things’, career, children, religion, travel, time with extended family, and/or giving back. Once discussed, where do you match up? Are there differences? And if so, how will you resolve them? Is there room for compromise?
Our lifestyle helps define who we are and what’s important to us, much like our values. Often times our lifestyle changes as we evolve and grow. Things that were once important can become less important. How we spend our time changes. Asking such questions as what is your lifestyle like? What are the similarities vs. the differences? Do you like to go out every night? Are you a homebody? Extrovert, introvert, or ambivert? Sports fan? Do you like to have a house full of people or do the couple thing or both? When you envision your daily life, what does it look like? How do you view your downtime? With social media overtaking our lives, what’s a fair amount of time to spend on it? Does it interfere with your relationship? Can you set healthy boundaries? What are the expectations regarding time together vs time apart?
6.) Communication styles
One of the biggest areas of contention in relationships is communication. People are communicating but not ineffective or healthy ways so they often feel stuck. One of the more common communication styles is the distance/pursuer relationship? For example, the more one moves towards their partner, the more the other partner creates distance. Is this your style? Some people are passive/aggressive, confrontational, overly assertive and loud. Others are defensive and have difficulty waiting their turn and simply listening and hearing. The goal being to learn your communication style and your partners and start to change how you communicate. A good therapist can help you do this more effectively by creating the bandwidth and platform to hear both sides, interject when needed, and guide you to having more conversations. Another important component of communication is your emotional intelligence or EQ. This is vital not just in your personal relationships, but professional ones as well.