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August 4

Dating: 101

In an age filled with social media, Tinder and virtual dating, are we creating the proper foundations for a healthy relationship?

This seems to be the time of hi-speed relationships, where one can simply, with the brush of a finger, swipe and instantly decide on the fates of their potential partners. Call me old-fashioned, but it takes a lot more than a mere gesture to find love. Not that I have anything against dating apps; many of my close friends have found true love with the help of the technology. But what is often overlooked is that this is just the first step in the long journey to love and marriage.

Let’s fast forward a bit. Those who have been in love know how euphoric it is, but what happens when the honeymoon phase passes. What happens when you move from in love to just love.

Many people will argue that love is enough, but is it? Those who are in a long-term relationship or stable marriages will tell you that when times get tough, or money gets tight, or when someone falls ill, or when babies arrive – love is just not enough. The relationship requires compassion, understanding, communication, honesty, respect and the willingness to make it work.

And it takes guts!

Marriage is not for sissies (neither is parenting for that matter.) So to set yourself up for success while still in the courtship phase, here are some great guidelines to help you decide whether or not your partner is right for you. Life is complicated enough without the added stress of unhealthy relationships.

Spend a day going through your photo albums and baby pictures with your partner. Ask each other questions like:
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What were you like as a child?
  • How was your childhood?
  • What values do your family hold?
  • How does your family celebrate special occasions?
  • Babysit a friend or family members kids together.
  • You can ask each other questions like:
  • How did your parents discipline you?
  • How did you feel about it?
  • Do you want kids?
  • Do a competitive activity together. Competition can tell you a lot about their character.
Take a turn to prepare and cook a meal.
Ask each other:
  • Who did the cooking in your house?
  • What foods do you love?
  • Did your family sit down together for meals?
  • Who cleaned up and why?
  • Budget for a holiday or a day out.

Money is often the reason couples fight. Gaining an understanding of what your partner believes about money early on can save you in more ways than one.

Money should never be a taboo subject in a committed relationship.
Start the conversation now by asking:
  • What lessons did your parents teach you about money?
  • Do you value spending or saving, and why?
Have a chat with a long term, happily married couple.
Ask them:
  • What is the secret ingredient to a happy marriage?
  • What advice can you give?
  • How do you keep the romance alive?

This all may seem like a lot of effort (and totally unromantic) for dating, but just like a house needs a solid foundation to last through the storms, so do relationships.

Marriage and children may not be future pursuits for you, and that is ok. It is ok to be single.

It is ok to be married and not have children. It is also ok to not be married and have children.

Your life is yours to live and experience – just make sure you live it with integrity and gratitude.

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