Facts for Living: Before you say “I do”

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

May through October are the most popular months for weddings. While many couples spend countless hours planning and preparing for the wedding, my hope is that they spend just as many hours preparing for their marriage. But, before making a lifetime commitment, it’s important to know as much about your partner, as well as yourself, as possible. It is a myth to think “love” is going to sustain your marriage.

080714-facts-for-living1How do you know if a person is compatible as a lifelong partner and what does it take to get to know someone? Think the three “T’s” – time, talk and togetherness. It takes TIME to really get to know a person. It takes TALKING to know what you have in common, to know how you both think and feel, and to know how you handle disagreements. It also takes enough experiences TOGETHER in different situations to see how a person acts with you and others. It’s important to see how he treats others and behaves in different situations, such as with family, friends at school, and how he handles other kinds of responsibilities.

So what does it mean to really know someone? Think FACES:

F – Family dynamics and background. Family experiences strongly influence our attitudes and behaviors. Communication patterns, dealing with conflict and stress, gender role expectations, and lessons about relationships are all shaped by our family experience.

A – Attitudes and actions of a mature conscience. How mature is your partner? What is their sense of right and wrong? Does this person make wise and kind choices or just think about their own needs? Does this person show that they have a sense of how their words and actions affect others?

C – Compatibility potential. What are your partner’s interests, skills, goals, beliefs, and attitude about life? How much do you have in common? Do you enjoy spending time together? It’s these aspects of compatibility that develop friendship and serves as the foundation for a long-lasting relationship.

E – Examples of previous friendship or relationship patterns. How we act in the past and handle different situations says a lot about how we will act in the future. How does your partner treat her friends and family? The patterns of behavior you witness in these relationships will eventually show up in your relationship.

S – Skills for relationships. How well can you and your partner communicate with each other? Is your partner a good listener (listen without interrupting or judgement)? Is she open and honest? Can you talk out your problems? The research is very clear – effective communication and positive ways of handling conflict results in healthy, long-lasting relationships. If you and your partner have a difficult time communicating or handling conflict, the good news is, you can develop the skills you need to be successful.

As with any relationship, there will always be things to learn and discover about each other, but before making a lifetime commitment to each other, it is important to know as much about your partner as possible.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at Frontier Extension’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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