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You Can’t Help Who You Fall in Love With… BUT

You do have a say over who you have a baby with. You can help who you move in with. You can decide who you will marry. You may be able to remodel a house, but you can’t remodel a person. It doesn’t work to try to change someone after you have started a serious relationship with that person. 

So, think hard about yourself. What is important to you? What are your values? What can you tolerate and what can you not tolerate? Now, pretend you have children. Ask yourself those questions again. Do the answers change? You may think you are able to live peaceably with someone who does not share your religious views, but what about when you have children? And please don’t fool yourself into thinking your significant other will change when he/she has children. If they are unable to pay their bills now, they won’t suddenly become fiscally responsible because they have children. 

Here are some possible questions to ask about someone before you move in and set up house together:

  1. Is this person religious?
    If so, get specific. If you are a Catholic and he/she is a Mormon, that could be an issue, if not now, at least when/if there are children.
  2. What is this person’s views about family?
    Are you expected to live with your in laws because that is normal in their culture?
    Is it normal for in laws to come and stay with you for 3 months when they “visit”?
    Is there a mentally ill relative waiting in the wings to move in and live with you?
  3. What is this person’s views about raising children?
    Do they want the children to be raised in the church?
    Do they want children to be involved in sports?
    Do they believe they should be financially responsible for children for the rest of their lives or just until they are 21?
  4. What is this person’s views about politics?
    Do those views freak you out or can you live with them and their associated news programs?
  5. Can this person pay their bills?
    Are they responsible and stable?
    Do they regularly spend more than they have?
    Is this person a shopaholic?
  6. Does this person think about others at all?
    Do they volunteer anywhere?
    How do they treat strangers? Waiters?
  7. Is this person addicted to anything?
    Do they get drunk regularly?
    Do they use marijuana regularly?
    Even if you think that is ok now, will it be okay when there are young children in the house and one of them needs to be driven to the emergency room?
  8. Is this person extremely neat or extremely messy?
    Can you live with their idea of housekeeping?

Those are just a few questions, but it’s a good place to start. And of course, you won’t find out the answers to all these questions at your first meeting. Even if you think you know someone, take your time. In a year of being together, you should get a pretty good idea of who someone is and whether you will be able to build a life together.