1. Am I attracted to this person? (and do I realize that attraction runs much deeper than looks)
One of the biggest lies of our culture is that attraction is solely about appearance.
We act like if you can just get your hair, abs, complexion, and clothes just right, then “The One” will scamper to you like a squirrel to a nut factory.
Why don’t we talk more about the fact that attraction runs much deeper than looks?
Sure appearance might catch someone’s eye, but it’s personality, values, faith, heart, and your past, present, and future story that’s going to make you, and them, stay.
Your spouse is a gift. And attraction is the whole package. And what’s inside is much more important than the shiny wrapping paper.
2. Are we loving from our insecurities or are we loving each other from our strengths?
What’s the difference?
Loving from your insecurities demands from others. Loving from your strengths gives to them.
Loving from your insecurities does not want to see your partner succeed more than yourself. Loving from your strengths hears of their success and is the first to celebrate with them.
Loving from insecurities daily demands, “what are you going to do for me?” Loving from your strengths asks, “What can I do for you?”
If you “love” from your insecurities, your love will be more selfish than selfless. And honestly, “loving” from our insecurities can be the worst form of manipulation there is.
When someone loves from their strengths, they know who they are and are drawing from a deep, full well to give to you without demanding a drink in return.
Is their love based on YOU or is their love based on THEM?
Does your partner seek out ways to understand how you receive love and meet that need? Do you do the same?
3. Do I want to become more like this person?
Marriage is like rolling Play-Doh, the more two different colors are meshed together the harder it becomes to distinguish one from another.
Does this thought excite you? Or does it make you feel like you just digested a can of the before mentioned Play-Doh?
Yes in marriage you still are your own person. And you need to have your own identity beyond your spouse.
If you don’t want to become like the person you’re dating, should you be dating?
4. How does my family communicate? How does my partner’s family communicate? And are my partner and I communicating about the crazy ways we’ve learned how to communicate crazily?
As I write in my new book 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties:
We all go through intense communication training for years; it’s called childhood.
It only takes one Thanksgiving dinner of intentionally listening and studying your family to realize that the cranberry cheese log on the table makes more sense sometimes than your family does.
And it’s hard to unwire eighteen years of being shown how to talk and listen to others in family situations.
Sure we’re not our parents, and we can work to change our communication habits. And this does not mean that if your family didn’t exactly model healthy communication that you’ll never have healthy relationships. If having a di cult childhood precluded us from getting married or having healthy relationships, there would be about thirteen marriages out there.
However, it is good for all of us to realize that for many of us, our fallback communication plan will be the one our parents laid out for us.
Holidays, especially, are giving you a glimpse into how your partner has been taught and trained on how to communicate. Don’t just sit back and eat that holiday ham. Sit up, take notes, because believe me you’ll want to feel prepared for the test that comes later.
And this test will come like a train on a dark and stormy night when your car runs out of gas on the tracks! I promise.
5. Do our soul values and beliefs repel or compel each other?
I believe one of the greatest causes for conflict in marriage are what I call contradicting soul values.
I’d describe soulvalues as beliefs that are fundamental to how you are wired, guiding your actions, thoughts, plans, and purpose on this earth.
We all have values that direct us and help us make decisions – problem is most of us have never articulated what those values are.
And if you don’t know your values, how can you expect your partner to have a clue?
Not all values are the same and sometimes you can have two very good people with very good values, but those values can feel at war with each other.