Many couples in crisis get to this situation because they do not know each other well. Knowing each other is the first step in overcoming conflicts. In this part of “Save Your Marriage”, I am going to write about the importance of knowing your partner and teach you how to learn all there is to know about your partner. Getting to know your partner’s fears, joys, history and attitude are the first step of any relationship.
Think of marriage as a relationship between two onions. For a couple to get closer, they have to peel the layers of the onion one by one. In the beginning, when you meet a potential partner, you peel the thin external layers. As the relationship deepens, you need to peel more and more layers to discover the beautiful person hiding inside.
To understand, respect and love each other in our marriage, we must truly get to know the person sharing out life. Sometimes, just knowing what their fears are or their joys can change a whole life. I remember the first time Gal gave me his list of “50 things that make me happy” and I was surprised to find out he was happy about very little things. It was surprising, because we had lived together for over 15 years.
Assuming that if you live together you know everything is a bad idea. Even if we knew out partner well at some point, we still need to update ourselves and keep learning about them because, just like us, our partner changes with every event in their life.
If you ever go on a TV show of the “best married couple” type, they will ask how much you know about each other.
Because everyone assumes that knowing things about each other is essential to your success as a married couple.
So do you know all the important things about your partner?
Have you seen what is underneath all the layers of your partner?
Have you peeled all your layers and let your partner know the real you?
Mandatory exam before marriage
What do you think? Maybe they should make every couple take such an exam before getting married. Every registered couple must come before the marriage celebrant separately and answer the “How well do you know your partner?” questionnaire. If they pass, they can get married, but if not, they need to go home and get to know each other a bit better.
Until they do this, here is a list of things it is wise to learn about your partner. Take your time to do that, before or after you are married.
Some rules about the knowing each other activity
- Peel the same layer from both of you by discussing both your answers to each question.
- Do not try to find the “favorite” or “most” or “best”, because as people change, so do their favorites/most/best. Stick to finding out what each of you tends to like and dislike.
- Going over the whole list is likely to take time. Split it up and discuss 1-3 questions at a time. It will give you an opportunity to tell each other stories from the past and reveal some more of who you think you are.
- This is not a competition. It is not a test. Just tell each other what each answer is for you and accept that it may be different for your partner.
- Sometimes there is a need to do it again. You may want to go over your list at least once a year if you want to know each other well.
- Do not judge your partner for thinking/believing in anything. Judgment makes people close up and stops the cooperation. What your partner thinks belongs to him/her and is not yours to change. Even if you think he/she should be happy about other things, accept it when he/she thinks differently. Acceptance is a required ingredient in every good marriage.
- You can write down the answers so you can look at them later if you are not sure you will remember all that is said.
Get to know your partner
- Name one of the movies your partner loved watching
- Name one of the songs your partner likes a lot
- Name 5 things you do that make him/her happy
- Name 5 things you do that upset him/her
- Name one of his/her good friends
- What does he/she love you for?
- What will make your partner proud?
- What character traits would your partner like to change in you?
- What is your partner’s family history?
- What kind of people does your partner hate the most?
- Which people does your partner not get along with in his/her family?
- Is he/she Mommy or Daddy’s child?
- What was the happiest day of his/her life?
- What was the saddest day of his/her life?
- Name one of your partner’s wishes
- If you want to surprise your partner, what will most make him/her happy?
- If you make him/her dinner, what would be good choices of food and settings?
- Name 5 things you know your partner would never do
- Name 5 things you know your partner would never say
- What does your partner thinks are his weaknesses?
- What are your partner’s spiritual beliefs?
- What does your partner consider his/her biggest mistake in life?
- Given another chance in life, what would your partner choose to do?
- Name a book your partner loved reading
- What will make your partner laugh?
- What do his parents think about you?
- What do your parents think about him/her?
- What are your partner’s biggest fears?
- What are your partner’s goals for the next year?
- What is your partner’s life purpose?
This list may seem short, but it is a long life research about each other. When we think we know each other very well, we tend to stop this process of learning about each other and this can only bring conflicts and trouble.
Until the authorities make this a requirement for every couple before marriage, make sure you have the answers. It is a great way to make sure you do not find yourself in court one day, divorcing a total stranger.
This post is part of the series Save Your Marriage:
- Self-Regulation in Your Marriage
- How to Save Yourself from Divorce
- Marriage and Divorce Statistics
- The Marriage Institution
- Marriage is the Foundation of Families
- The Unpleasant Side of Divorce
- How to Get Things Wrong in a Marriage
- Marriage and Self Talk
- More About Self Talk
- Facts vs. Meaning in Marriage
- All Men Are… All Women Are…
- When Two Do Not Become One
- Marriage and Money
- Be Your Partner’s Best Friend
- Relationship Between Two Onions
- The Greatest Gift: Staying Married
- Marriage of Singles
- The "Right" Trap
- The Intention Trap
- Best Marriage Quotes
- 10 Rules for Civilized Dialogue
- 10 Tips for Re-Building Trust
- The King and His Servants
- The Nitpicker
- Expressing Feelings in a Marriage
- Don’t Be On Guard
- Don’t Clam Up
- Have Good Sex to Save Your Marriage
- Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)
- Emergency Relationship Coaching Essentials
- Save Your Marriage with Better Time Management
- Choice Theory Can Save Your Marriage