Knowing your Partner

Jill Bertelsen
Last week I introduced the Relationship Attachment Model. If you haven't read it, go back and read it before continuing on with this series. There are 5 aspects to measuring a relationship: Know, Trust, Rely, Commit, and Touch. Each has a slider, you can be high in trust but low in commitment. When you are dating you want “know” to be higher than “trust”, “trust” to be higher than “rely”, “rely” higher than “commit”, and “commit” higher than “touch”. When married we want to be equally high in all.

Let’s start with “know” in the context of dating. This one may seem the easiest to understand, you either know a person or you don’t. But a lot of times we are so smitten we don’t stop to ask the correct questions. In his book, John Van Epp talks about 5 main things we would want to know about someone before getting married. The acronym is FACES.

F - Family Background: knowing someone’s family is essential. Many believe that they are not like their parents or siblings. They may have changed and that is great, but there are tendencies that they grew up that will be their natural go to. I am not saying that if their father was a drunk then they will be be a drunk, if it is something that they have worked to change and have had time to change it, they can create new habits. But asking questions while dating can help know what the expectations would be, questions like: Did the mother work and do all the house cleaning? Were they permissive or authoritative in their parenting? Did they value possessions or experiences more? Were there clear boundaries or over dependent on each other? How much attention were they given as a child? Were they neglected or spoiled as a little child?

It is important to know about their family background because this will often be what they default to. If you are a woman and you don’t want to work and stay home, you will want to marry someone who is okay with that. The question you want to ask with the family background is not, “is it the same as yours?” Instead ask, “is this something we could work out? Are they willing to budge on certain things? Am I okay adapting to this lifestyle for our future family?”

A - Attitudes and Actions of Conscience. This one takes time to figure out. You want to see what their core is. Are they truthful, kind, and trustworthy? You can see glimpses in the first bit of dating, but people can put on a show for the first few dates. It is once you have known them for months that you find out if they are who they say they are.

C - Compatibility Potential. It is okay to be picky on who you want to spend the rest of your life with. There will be differences and you will have to figure out if you are okay with those differences. But, if you love the outdoors and they like to stay in and watch Netflix all day and you are wanting them to join you. In a few years this could be a conflict. In the beginning stages of dating people think that they can work it out, or that opposites attract. But ask yourself if this is something you want to be working on your whole life. If yes, great. If no, that is fine as well.

E - Examples of past relationships. How do they treat past boyfriends? How do they treat their parents? Siblings? Friends? Random person on the street? It is important to see them in all of these situations. Some may say that “oh he doesn’t treat me that way”. Once you have been married for a few years, they will. So know how they have treated others.

S - Skills of a Relationship. You want to know how they handle conflict. When they are upset are they willing to calm down, to see the other side, to find a common ground? There will be many things that come up in your relationships. Know how they communicate and handle conflict. This is a skill you will want them to have before you are deciding what you want your wedding colors to be.

Knowing takes time. Time talking and time together. Long distance relationships work, but you have to see what they do as well as talk to them before entering into such a strong bond. You also can’t just be together for 2 years watching movies and say you know someone as well, questions need to be asked to get to know each other.

Within a marriage, a spouse may say they know their partner. But when was the last time you asked them about a book they were reading, a co-worker, their hobbies, their hopes and dreams. These things change over time. Once you get married, you still have to be aware and work on building the know aspect of your relationship.

Next week we will cover “rely” and “trust.” Stay tuned!