It seems the new question everyone wants an answer to before they marry is whether they can share a home without strife. While it is an interesting question, it hardly seems worth two or three years of sharing a home before agreeing to marry. Learning to Find Third Alternatives can get you through sharing a home with almost anyone you respect and care about.
Here are the three questions I encourage you to ask well before you agree to share a home or even a bed.
- Does he or she value my greatest strengths and possess strengths I have less of than I wish I had?
By strengths, I mean things like integrity, curiosity, creativity, optimism, fairness, kindness, forgiveness, social intelligence, modesty, open-mindedness, self-control, playfulness, a love of learning, spirituality, piety, persistence, a sense of awe and wonder, a zest for living, leadership skills, loyalty, and the like.
- Do we agree about the obligations of marriage?
Do we agree that infidelity is normal or intolerable? Do we agree on the minimum income, chore time, and parenting time required of a spouse? Do we agree about a spouse’s obligations to in-laws or step-children? Do we agree about the risks a spouse can take without the blessing of the other spouse? Do we agree that marriage includes children or that it need not? Do we agree that marriage is for life, through poverty and sickness as well as better times, or that it is for as long as both of us meet our obligations, or that it is for as long as we both care to stick around?
- Do I know this person’s Love Language, and am I willing to show my love this way?
If your spouse measures the quality of your relationship in acts of service, are you prepared for a life of service? If your spouse needs words of affirmation or respect, are you prepared to offer them, even if words seem cheap to you? If your spouse thrives on gifts, are you prepared to invest the effort to think of frequent gifts and make or buy them? If you marry someone whose love language is physical touch, will you engage in sex even when your libido is low and offer massage and hugs as needed? And if you marry someone who measures love in quality time spent together in activities or conversation, can you make the time to be present in these?
To me, these are far more important than the question of whether you are good at living together.