Dear Neil: I read your articles in a local newspaper. In my religion, pre-marital sex is not allowed. So how do I determine who to choose as the right person for me to marry?
Wanting to Know in South Africa
Dear South Africa: Here are some ways to evaluate who would be a suitable partner for you to consider for marriage:
How evenly matched are your interests, lifestyles and values?
How well does your partner express him/herself emotionally, verbally, through touch and through affection?
How comfortable is your partner in social situations?
How attracted are you to his/her physical appearance?
How defensive is she/he to correction, criticism, suggestions or requests?
How angry is your partner, and what does she/he do when angry? Do you ever feel scared or threatened?
How does she/he handle it when the two of you are upset with each other — or in disagreement with each other? How good are your partner’s conflict-resolution, compromising and negotiating skills? Is she/he able to discuss conflicts and differences in a healthy manner when they arise?
How tactful, diplomatic and sensitive is your partner to you? To others? In social situations? With friends and family? With strangers? How well-mannered is she/he?
How compassionate, kind, generous, magnanimous, considerate, thoughtful, accommodating and friendly is she/he?
How forgiving is your partner?
Does she/he frequently feel like a victim? Blame others for his/her predicaments? Have trouble accepting responsibility or accountability for things that go wrong or for mistakes that were made? Do you think she/he lives life with high integrity?
Is your partner wise with money? How accountable is she/he for financial decisions and choices?
What are your partner’s plans, goals or visions for the future? In your estimation, are those plans and goals realistic? How compatible are they with your visions for the future?
How focused and disciplined is your partner? Does she/he stay on tasks and go after achieving goals until they are completed?
In which ways do the two of you have fun and play together?
If you can’t answer these questions with confidence, then you are not ready to get married. You need more time to get to know your partner better.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website at www.heartrelationships.com. His book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Keeping the Flame Alive” is now available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.