Walking down the aisle. Signing official legal documents. Committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life. It is a major decision – and one that requires a giant leap of faith – but how do you know you are making a good decision? Why not ask those whose job it is to untangle lives that haven’t gone as planned?
Yes, divorce lawyers help spouses end their marriages. In that process, however, they learn much about what led to the divorce. When surveyed, divorce attorneys from around the country agree that there are a few “red flags” you should watch out for as early as the first date.
Ask questions that target bigger concerns
The survey prompted attorneys to share a few of the questions they would ask a new partner, early in the relationship. Asking easy questions with an underlying goal is a first-date way to pinpoint some issues that could become problems when far more is at stake.
If you are getting into a new relationship, you may want to ask questions that help you understand your date:
- Has extreme family relationships: Extreme can be either too close or too disconnected. No family relationship is about winning, but your marriage needs to take precedence. Conversely, be wary of someone who might be unable to sustain long-term relationships.
- Thinks marriage is a fairytale: Even the strongest marriage is not “rainbows and butterflies” at all times. You will go through difficult times, and someone who doesn’t understand that they have to put in effort, care and attention to make a marriage work might have unrealistic expectations.
- Has a career that doesn’t fit into your life: Do you want a partner who goes to all the kids’ events or is home in time for dinner? A partner devoted to a tough career or one that requires significant travel could create a problem for you. If you put financial stability or predictability high on your priority list, someone who bounces from job to job might not be the best fit either.
- Has different financial goals: Financial arguments are a big driver of divorce. If you believe in saving and budgeting, you might find it stressful to have a partner who is okay with carrying large credit card debts or living outside their means.
- Doesn’t take (at least some) ownership for the end of their last relationship: When a previous relationship was “all their fault,” it can be telling of a person’s character. A person who cannot reflect on their own choices, understand their shortcomings or maintain an honest perspective might make a difficult partner.
- Is married: In the world today, people start dating at all stages of a separation. Dating someone with an official divorce decree from a previous marriage is probably best. The underlying issue is that you want them to have moved on (past tense) and mentally prepared for a new relationship.
Keep in mind that none of these are absolute. Red flags are only potential warning signs or factors to consider as you ponder the decision to trust another person with your heart.