Your Ideal Life – with Another

There are many questions to consider (alone and together) in order to create one’s ideal life – with someone else (as a partner). Below are some key areas to contemplate (regarding preferences and needs).

Home:
1. What does our home look like, physically? Outside? Inside? Any particular style?
2. How many rooms should there be and for what purpose will they be used?
3. Describe the feeling you want to have when you walk into our home. What makes you feel secure, happy? Would you like our home to be peaceful and spacious, with no evidence of the outside world? Full of laughter, warm light and coziness? Complete silence? Neighbors and friends coming and going? Both? Neither?
4. Where is our home? Describe its geographic location. What surrounds the house? Neighbors? Trees? Shops and museums? The ocean? A gated community? Acres of undeveloped land?
5. What is it? Apartment? House? Townhouse?
6. Who is responsible for keeping our home and yard (if relevant) cared for and organized? Are we different in terms of our needs for cleanliness and/or organization? Is one or both of us neat? Messy? A “pack rat”? An organizational wizard?
7. Who is responsible for grocery shopping, cooking and other tasks connected with meals? Do we eat out? A lot? A little?
8. What do we sleep on? A king-size bed? A waterbed? A futon? What else is in our bedroom besides the bed? Let yourself dream about where you will dream.
9. What percentage of our income are we prepared to spend to purchase and maintain our home on a monthly or annual basis?
10. How much will we spend on furnishings? Who will make these decisions? What factors are important in making these decisions (price, quality, style)? Do we want to be free to redecorate as our tastes change, or do we expect to invest in quality that will last a lifetime?
11. How long will we live in our current or first home? One year? Ten years? Forever?
12. Do we have a sense of our own style? Do we care? What is my style? Ours?
13. Who may also stay or live there? Do we have roommates or tenants? Do we have pets?
14. What is my wildest fantasy about our home (e.g., an outside shower, all-white décor, wild-animal preserve, three guest rooms)?

Money:
1. How much money do we earn together? Now? In one year? Five years? Ten years? Who is responsible for which portion? In one year? Five years? Ten years?
2. Are our current combined salaries enough to cover our expenses?
3. What are our categories of expense (rent, clothing, insurance, travel)? How much do we spend monthly, annually, in each category? How much do we want to be able to spend? Now? In one year? Five years? Ten years?
4. What is our ultimate financial goal regarding annual income and when do we anticipate achieving it? By what means and through whose efforts?
5. How much money do we have in our checking accounts right now?
6. How much money do we have in our savings accounts right now?
7. How much money do we have invested or saved elsewhere (stocks, annuities, retirement funds)?
8. How much money should be in our savings accounts so that each of us feels “safe”? How much do we contribute to it monthly or annually? Who makes these contributions, and in what proportions?
9. Where do we put it (bank account, mutual funds, retirement plans)?
10. Do we keep our money in joint or individual accounts?
11. What kinds of purchases must be jointly decided upon?
12. How do we decide how to spend our money? Is there an amount ($50, $500, $5,000) over which we need to discuss a purchase before committing to it?
13. Who keeps the household books and pays bills?
14. Who does long-range financial planning (retirement, investments)? How are these decisions made and who implements/tracks/manages them? How is life insurance secured? In what amounts? Who are the beneficiaries? Do we have pre-existing investments and if so, will any changes be necessary after marriage?
15. If we have dependents from a previous relationship, what part of our finances goes to them, now and in the future? When unpredicted financial events occur involving them, what is the new spouse’s involvement/input/responsibility?
16. How is health insurance secured? Does either of us have existing health needs, concerns or conditions?

Work:
1. What are our separate professional goals in terms of position or job desired? On year from now? Five years? Fifteen years?
2. Is each of us content with our current jobs? If not, why?
3. How much time will each of us spend at work, and during what hours? Do we begin work early? Will we prefer to work into the evening?
4. Outside of the office, how much of our time are we willing to put into work? What place does the others’ job have in our home life? Do we have an office at home? Do we bring work home? How much time is spent working at home?
5. What is our relationship to the other’s work? What do you expect of me in terms of support, encouragement and relationships with your co-workers?
6. If one of us doesn’t want to work, under what circumstances, if any, would that be OK?
7. How ambitious am I? How ambitious are you? Are we each comfortable with the other’s level of ambition?
8. How do I need you to support my professional/work goals? Do I need time and space to explore my creativity? Do I need financial support? Do I need your advice? Do I need time and money to attend school or receive additional professional training?
9. When, if ever, do we want to retire? Where would we like to retire? How would we like to spend our time after retirement?

Sex:
1. Am I comfortable giving and receiving love, sexually? In sex, does my partner feel my love for him or her?
2. Am I affectionate enough with my partner? Do I cuddle and cherish him or her enough?
3. Am I comfortable giving and receiving lust? Does my partner feel how much I desire him or her? Is our sexual connection satisfying on a purely physical level?
4. Are we satisfied with the frequency of lovemaking? How do we cope when our desire levels are unmatched? A little? A lot? For a night? A week? A month? A year? More?
5. What if one of us is attracted to someone else? Superficially? Deeply?
6. How do we each deal with the sexual expectations and needs of the other? What does one expect of the other in terms of sexual safety and exploration? Can I be deeply honest about my fantasies and longings and not do damage? If damage is done, then what?
7. Is there a spiritual aspect to our sexual relationship? If so, how might it be expressed or honored?

Health and Food:
1. Do we eat meals together? Which ones?
2. Who is responsible for food shopping?
3. Who prepares the meals?
4. Who cleans up afterward?
5. Do either of us have special dietary concerns or needs relating to weight, health, etc.? Does the other agree with or support these needs?
6. How much time do we spend exercising? How much time do we want to spend?
7. Do we feel comfortable about our current levels of fitness and health? Are there any areas (weight control, cholesterol levels, muscle tone, flexibility) that are of concern to one or both of us?
8. Does either of us have health concerns (e.g., chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma or illness that run in the family)?
9. Do the health, dietary and/or exercise needs or one or both of us require any lifestyle adjustments or changes? Any special financial expenditures?
10. Do we each feel supported by the other on these areas?
11. Are we each happy with our overall health? Where could there be improvement?
12. Are each of us happy with the other’s approach to health? Does one have habits or tendencies that concern the other (e.g., smoking, excessive dieting, poor diet)?

Family:
1. What do I like about my family of origin? What do I dislike?
2. What do you like about my family of origin? What do you dislike?
3. What is your current relationship to my family? Do you like this relationship? Are you close? Do you desire more or less closeness? Do they desire more closeness from you? Are you comfortable with my parents and siblings?
4. What place does the other’s family play in our family life? How often do we visit or socialize together? If we have out-of-town relatives, will we ask them to visit us for extended periods? How often? For what length of time?
5. If we have children, what kind of relationship do we hope our parents will have to their grandchildren? How much tie will they spend together?
6. What holidays and events do we feel are important to spend with our family of origin? Do we give gifts? Do we have special celebrations? If so, what is involved and where are the celebrations held?
7. What holidays and events are important for our family to observe? How do we celebrate and what kind of time is spent celebrating each other’s birthdays? Our anniversary? Our children’s birthdays? Our relatives’ birthdays, anniversaries, and special events?

Children:
1. Will we have children together?
2. If so, when?
3. How many?
4. How important is having children to each of us?
5. Is it necessary or desirable to consider adoption, infertility counseling or genetic testing?
6. How will having a child change the way we live now? Will we want or be able to take time off from work, or work at a reduced schedule? For how long? In the months or years following the birth of our child, will we need to rethink who is responsible for housekeeping?
7. When our child is a baby, will she/he be breast-fed? For how long? Will we adhere to a strict feeding schedule or not?
8. When our child is older, will we try to enforce any particular dietary habits (limit sweets, prohibit processed foods, encourage vegetarianism, etc.)?
9. How will we instill discipline in our child? Lectures? Yelling? Spanking? “Time Outs”? Is one of us more naturally a disciplinarian? How will we handle our disagreements over administering discipline and teaching manners and values?
10. How much time will each of us spend with our children?
11. How much time will we spend without our children, just the two of us?
12. Who will take care of our child if we both work? How does each partner feel about daycare?
13. When our child is older, we will limit access to TV, music, computers or reading material, due to content? What type of content do we find objectionable? What sort of TV, music, computer games, Internet content or reading material will we encourage or discourage? Will we set time or viewing limits on TV? On time spent playing video games or surfing the Internet?
14. Will we raise our children with any particular religious or spiritual beliefs? If so, how do we do this? Will we give our children a religious education or expect them to participate in religious rituals (observance of Sabbath, religious holidays, conformations, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, etc.)?
15. If we decide not to have children, are we both completely comfortable with the decision? What if one of us changes his or her mind?
Regarding children from previous relationships:
16. How much time will we spend together?
17. What does the birth parent expect in terms of his/her child’s relation to the stepparent? What does the stepparent expect? What role, if any, will the new spouse play in the care, discipline and education of her partner’s child?
18. What is the child’s physical and emotional space in the new family and home? What special care needs to be taken to assure his/her comfort and security in the birth parent’s new relationship?

Community and Friends:
1. With whom do we socialize as a couple?
2. How do we meet new people?
3. Are we satisfied with the quality and quantity of friends we currently have? Would we like to be more involved socially? Are we overwhelmed socially, and do we need to cut back on such commitments?
4. Was one or both of us into an ethnic or religious community? What role, if any, does this community play in our life together?
5. What kind of community do we envision ourselves in? Close-knit? Occasional get-togethers? Based around work, religion, cultural pursuits or hobbies? How do we achieve that community?
6. Which of us is responsible for creating community? Is one partner more outgoing than the other? Does one partner have a greater need for outside friendship and groups?
7. Do I appreciate/resent the way my partner interacts with my friends? Of my existing friendships, do any seem particularly wonderful or threatening to my partner?
8. What are my partner’s needs for cultivating or maintaining friendships outside of our relationship? Is it easy for me to support those needs or do they bother me in any way?
9. Do we belong to or support (with money and/or time) any charities or causes?
Spiritual Life:
1. Do we share a religion? Do we belong to a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple? More than one? If not, would our relationship benefit from such an affiliation?
2. Do we share a spiritual practice such as mediation, yoga or some other type of “non-traditional” observance? If not, would adding such a practice enrich our lives together?
3. Does one of us have an individual spiritual practice? Is the practice and the time devoted to it acceptable to the other? Does each partner understand and respect the other’s choices?
4. What does each desire of the other in terms of support and/or participation in the other’s practice?
5. How do we mark births and deaths within our family?
6. What place do spiritual and/or religious beliefs play in our home and home life?
7. Do we observe any spiritual rituals? Celebrate any religious holidays? Together? Separately?
8. Will we be buried? Where? If not, what do we want to happen to our bodies?

Considering Marriage?