A happy couple doesn’t need an audience to show that they value and care about each other because it’s their daily reality. They don’t shy away from their problems or bear pain silently because they understand that friction, difficulties, and differences of opinion won’t break their relationship apart, but can make it stronger. They don’t fear exposure of their weaknesses because doing so allows them to work on bringing out the best in each other.
What makes them this way?
From my own anecdotal observations, it’s because all the happy couples have these requirements:
- Both people value the same lifestyle and share a vision for the future
- They have very different personalities and drives, and value these differences in each other
- They continually give to each other emotionally and physically
- They work on and resolve individual and common problems together
You will notice that I left off things like common interests or activities. While they’re nice to have, they actually matter much less than people think.
In the working world, the high performing team is a close parallel because it requires members that have different but complementary skills, knowledge, and abilities, and have different ways of thinking. They must be able to communicate regularly and authentically with each other to identify and analyze problems and situations, and generate and debate new ideas and approaches to solve existing and new problems. They must be able to figure out and appreciate what motivates others, give recognition for what each person brings to the table, learn from/mentor/teach others, and trust that each person is committed to thinking and working to strengthen each other and the team. Individuals in the team may take on a variety of roles depending on what is needed, ranging from doing routine tasks to organizing, or researching to leading the team. Lastly, in order for there to be a sense of shared investment in and reward from being part of the team, each person must wholeheartedly support where the team is headed and what they’re trying to achieve.
Where the team parallel ends is at the emotional and sexual: Happy couples can and do get very angry with each other, occasionally saying or doing hurtful things. They are comfortable revealing deeply personal thoughts to each other. Also, it’s a good thing for couples to spend aimless, leisure time together, and feel romantic love and lust for each other — kissing, hugging and having sex — as much and whenever possible, in fact.
Why does any of this matter to you — a single person seeking a mate? My idea is that these basic happy couples requirements can be used to guide your search. Below are some question that you should ask yourself, no dodging or platitudes. After you find your own answers, pose them when you meet with your dates. If nothing else, these questions could make for interesting date discussions.
- Lifestyle and Vision for the Future (should be the same or very similar to yours):
- What type of lifestyle do you want? How is it different from your life now?
- How would you like to be able to describe the life you led when you’re 80 or 90 years old? Why?
- Are you happy at work? Why/Why not?
- Personalities and Drives (should be different from and complementary to yours)
- What are you good at? What do you need help with?
- What do you enjoy spending time doing? Why?
- What do you hate doing? Why?
- What do your friends complement you for? What are their complaints about you?
- Giving to others emotionally (see whether your date has meaningful relationships with others, and show appreciation for different personalities)
- Who do you spend most of your free time with? Why?
- Who are the people you implicitly trust? Why?
- What’s your family like? Who are you close to and why?
- Self-awareness, approach to solving problems:
- Why do you think you’re driven to do the things that you like to do?
- What are you dissatisfied with in your life? Why? What are you doing to change that?
- What wouldn’t you ever change in your life? Why not?
- Why are you dating now? What are you hoping you’ll find in a date?