FINDING A LIFE PARTNER 5 Golden rules for finding your life partner by Kiogora Mugambi A relationships coach lays out his 5 golden ruled for evaluating the prospect of long term marital success. When it comes to making the decision about choosing a life partner no one wants to make a mistake. Yet, with a divorce rate of close to 50% it appears that many are making serious mistakes in their approach to finding Mr. / Mrs. Right! If you ask most couples who are engaged why they are getting married they’ll say, "We’re in love" I believe this is the 1 mistake people make when they date. Choosing a life partner should never be based on love. Though this may not sound politically correct there’s a profound truth here. Love is not the basis for getting married. Rather, love is the result of a good marriage. When the other ingredients are right then the love will come. Let me state it again: You can’t build a lifetime relationship on love alone, you need a lot more. Here are 5 questions you must ask yourself if you’re serious about finding and keeping a life partner. Question1: Do we share a common life purpose? Why is this so important? Let me put it this way: If you’re married for twenty or thirty years, that’s a long time to live with someone. What do you plan to do with each other all that time? Travel, eat and jog together? You need to share something deeper and more meaningful. You need a common life purpose. Two things can happen in a marriage. You can grow together or you can grow apart. 50 percent of people out there are growing apart. To make a marriage work you need to know what you want out of life bottom line marry someone who wants the same thing. Question 2: Do I feel safe expressing my feelings and thoughts with this person? This question goes to the core of the quality of your relationship. Feeling safe means you can communicate openly with this person. The basis of having good communication is trust – i.e. trust that I won’t get "punished" or hurt for expressing my honest thoughts and feelings. A colleague of mine defines an abusive person as someone with whom you feel afraid to express your thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself on this one. Make sure you feel emotionally safe with the person you plan to marry. Question 3: Is he / she a mensch? A Mensch is someone who is a refined and sensitive person. How can you test? Here are some suggestions. Do they work on personal growth on a regular basis? Are they serious about improving themselves? A teacher of mine defines a good person as "someone who is always striving to be good and do the right thing". So, ask about your significant other: What do they do with their time? Is this person materialistic? Usually a materialistic person is not someone whose top priority is character refinement. There are essentially two types of people in the world: People who are dedicated to personal growth and people who are dedicated to seeking comfort. Someone whose goal in life is to be comfortable will put personal comfort ahead of doing the right thing. You need to know that before walking down the aisle. Question 4: How does he / she treat other people? The one most important thing that makes any relationship work is the ability to give. By giving, we mean the ability to give the other person pleasure. Ask: Is this someone who enjoys giving pleasure to others or are they wrapped up in themselves and self-absorbed? To measure this, think about the following: how do they treat people they do not have to be nice to, such as waiters, bus boy, taxi driver etc. How do they treat parents and siblings? Do they have gratitude and appreciation? If they don’t have gratitude for the people who have given them everything, you cannot, you-who can’t do nearly as much for them? Do they gossip and speak badly about others? Someone who gossips cannot be someone who loves others. You can be sure that someone who treats others poorly will eventually treat you poorly as well. Question 5: Is there anything about this person I’m hoping to change after we are married? Too many people make the mistake of marrying someone with the intention of trying to "improve" them after they are married. As a colleague of mine puts it, "you can probably expect someone to change after marriage….for the worse!” If you cannot fully accept this person the way they are now, then you are not ready to marry them. In conclusion dating doesn’t have to be difficult and treacherous. The key is to try leading a little more with your head and less with your heart. It pays to be as objective as possible when you are dating, to be sure to ask questions that will help you get to the key issues. Falling in love is a great feeling, but when you wake up with a ring on your finger, you don’t want to find yourself in trouble because you didn’t do your homework. Another perspective… There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of, or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible not going anywhere relationships. Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse? Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know or appreciate you? The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you…the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. An African proverb states, "Before you get married, keep eyes open and after you marry, close one eye". Before you get involved and make a commitment to someone, don’t let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others or a low self esteem make you blind to warning signs. Keep your eyes open and don’t fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults aren’t really that important. Once you decide to commit to someone, over time their flaws, vulnerabilities, pet peeves and differences will become more obvious. If you love your mate and want the relationship to grow and evolve, you’ve got to learn how to close one eye and not let every little thing bother you. You and your mate have many different expectations, emotional needs, values, dreams, weaknesses and strengths. You are two unique individual children of God who have decided to share a life together. Neither one of you is perfect, but are you perfect for each other? Do you bring out the best in each other? Do you compliment and compromise with each other or do you compete, compare and control? What do you bring to the relationship? Do you bring past relationships, past hurts, past mistrust, past pain? You can’t take someone to the altar to alter them. You can’t make someone love you or make someone stay. If you develop self esteem, spiritual discernment and "a life" you won’t find yourself making someone else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain. Manipulation, control, jealousy, neediness and selfishness are not the ingredients of a thriving, healthy, loving and lasting relationship. Seeking status, sex, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship. What keeps a relationship strong is: 1 Trust 2 Communication 3 Intimacy 4 A sense of humour 5 Sharing tasks 6 Some getaway time without business or children 7 Daily exchanges ( a meal, shared activity, a hug, a call, a touch, a note ) 8 Sharing common goals and interests 9 Giving each other space to grow without feeling insecure 10 Giving each other a sense of belonging and assurances of commitment If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment, withdrawal, abuse, neglect, dishonesty and pain WILL replace the passion. There it goes, so happy hunting for your partner for life!