It's interesting, the things that couples learn about each other after being together for a long time. These new things that we learn can either be fantastic or cause issues. I know that it is not realistic to go on a first date with someone and ask about their values, past relationships, and future goals, but sometimes I wish that’s how life worked!
Here are some questions you can ask one another if you are in a relationship to hopefully get to know each other better. These questions will help you learn about different viewpoints that can become common causes in fights later on in the relationship:
1) What should friendships with people of the opposite sex look like when you’re in a relationship?
I see many instances where one couple believes that the other has an inappropriate friendship with someone of the opposite sex, while the other partner does not see anything wrong with their friendship. This can be attributed to different types of boundaries, values, and views. I recently asked a couple what they believe boundaries with friends of the opposite sex looked like and both partners looked like a deer in headlights. They had never even considered that question. This will come up at some point during the course of a relationship and it’s important to let the your partner know your thoughts on this.
2) How much openness is too open?
I know this may sound silly, but talk to your partner about bathroom habits! Do you want to use the bathroom with the door open? That may be a big issue for your partner! Going deeper into this point, some people have no problem with their partner looking through their phone, email, etc. but others find this a huge invasion of privacy. It’s important to establish these habits early on.
3) What does a healthy sex life look like?
I am sure that everyone reading this can relate to this one. Some people are very satisfied having sex once a month in the same position and they are not interested in any other sexual contact. Other people are interested in sexual contact on a daily basis. Everyone has different sexual menus and it’s important to be aware of our own sexual menu as well as our partner’s.
4) What are your spending habits?
Money is a huge trigger of fighting in relationships and talking about openness with money is very important - whether your finances are combined or not.
5) What do healthy fights look like?
It may sound surprising, but the way that fighting occurs can be very important. I always encourage my clients to stay away from yelling and name calling, however every couple fights differently. Some people may need to take space to think before talking through things, while other people may want to get the fight over with right away. Talking about “rules” for fighting can help when these inevitable fights occur.
Hopefully these questions will not only help you learn about your partner, but also learn about yourself. Understand that if you and your partner have different views on these things, it does not mean the end of your relationship! It just may mean learning more about each other, coming up with compromises and figuring out what works for the two of you together.
Maryellen Dance, LMHC is a modern therapist who holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Medaille College. She provides support for those experiencing anxiety, depression, life role transitions and self-esteem conflicts. She focuses on providing practical skills using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and often uses mindfulness techniques in sessions.