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Life, Love and Staying Together

It seems that lately, I have been asked or in conversation about relationships.  Specifically, about romantic relationships and how you know whether they will last.

It’s an age-old topic.

Relationships are complicated and as the world spins faster, it can have an impact that confuses things even more because we never stop to get the WHOLE story and the little voice in our head gets it wrong.  So, I think it is important to keep it simple.  I have found these five key questions to reveal the answer:

Do you like what you see when you meet the Mom?

It may seem like a strange question, after all you aren’t dating the Mom.  Yep, but she is the chief of everything for your partners family and that means it will affect you.  Understanding the Mom and how she works, what she believes, what she really cares about and what she expects will help you also understand your partner more deeply.  You will understand the why things are the way they are more fully about your partner—it’s kind of like finding the missing puzzle piece.

Do you share the same version of the future?

Does anyone really know what they want to be when they grow up?  It is a moving target indeed, but we can focus on the direction of our future.  What do we see ourselves doing and why?  Where will we be living?  Do we wish to share life with someone and in what capacity?  If money weren’t an issue, what would we do?  And in the end, what do we hope others say about the impact we had on the world?

Do you share the same values?

This is an easy question to ask.  It takes work to understand the primary values that drive your behavior and motivations.  And the most important reveal is how you prioritize one over the other when critical decisions are made.  Brene Brown has recently published a list of values.  You can find it at:   http://nancymdahl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Values.pdf  Start by selecting your top 10 then narrow it to your top 5.  And then think about a scenario that forces you to choose one over the other so you see how you prioritize them.  It’s a fun exercise and especially wonderful conversation that enriches your relationship with others and strengthens your understanding of how you work and why.

Does the same person you know show up in all four seasons?

The rush of emotion that comes with feeling the connection to someone is something special. It’s important to be patient and experience life together before you know if it will last. Specifically, all four seasons-fall, winter, spring and summer. As the weather changes, so too does our ability to show up in the same way. The things we do each season are different, the way we live each season is different and it affects how we interact with each other. A carefree attitude in the summer can lead to a very different approach in the winter. Take the time to see what happens, and then reflect on how you feel about the connection.

Do you cherish EVERY PART of each other including all the unpolished spots?

We are all WHOLE people.  We come together as we are.  In fact, we meet each other as unfinished projects and that’s how our relationships start and grow.  And it’s true for the rest of your life.  It’s important to embrace all of it and not add to your “to do list” a project to change the other person.  That’s impossible.  Only the person can change themselves.  It’s better to embrace each other fully and engage in conversation about how you work together to be your best.  Remember you fell in love with each other as unfinished projects, why would you want to alter the very things that brought you together.

That’s it.  Just 5 questions!

If the answer is an absolute YES to all five questions, you have a strong foundation to build the future together.  A foundation that works in good times and bad so you can focus on what matters and work it out together.  But like anything, the foundation will require focus, practice, curiosity and refinement to keep it relevant for every stage of life.

As I reflect on my relationship with my husband and forever boyfriend, the answer is still a resounding YES.  And I can tell you in hard times, I could focus on the issue because I knew the relationship was worth the work.  This fall we will celebrate 40 years of knowing each other, 35 years since he popped the question and 34 years since we said I do.

And a super fun fact, our cabin sits on the shores of Traders Bay on Leech Lake, where he proposed 35 years ago this August.  It’s where I am sitting right now as I write to you.

Let’s keep the conversations going.  How do these five questions resonate with you and your relationships?  What other advice do you offer when you are in conversations about romantic relationships?  It’s a great conversation to have with others around a campfire, over a glass of wine, on a boat or where ever you gather.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

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