1. They spend too much time together.
Schedule quality time together and apart. Many couples makes the mistake of trying to spend too much time together and this time, inevitably, doesn’t amount to quality time. If you spend all of your non-working time with your partner, you’re bound to find yourselves engaging in dull, repetitive activities like running errands, casually watching TV or surfing the web – this gets boring! And if you’re bored in your relationship, you’re not growing together.
By scheduling quality time with your partner (periods where you really enjoy one another — from cuddling on the couch to attending a gallery launch), you’ll find that you connect on a more meaningful level. Rather than simply being in the same room/house, you’ll learn to actually be together as a couple. You’ll talk about novel topics (not just what you want for dinner) which helps to keep the passion alive. You’ll explore new and challenges experiences together, which creates the potential to spark dopamine and adrenaline production and restore feelings of excitement similar to those you felt when you first met.
Time apart offers a number of benefits that help you to grow together:
-You create mystery and excitement, as you don’t know your partner’s every move.
-You have more to talk about when you’re together with deepens your bond.
-You grow both as individuals and as a couple, as you have both shared and separate interests, experiences and friends.
(You can check out my personal story on this too. I share how I worried about what my new crazy travel schedule would mean for my relationship and how it actually forced us – to make the most of our time together – to spend quality time. And our tips for staying connected while travelling: A Married Couples Tips For Staying Connected While Travelling for Work.)
2. They don’t discuss financial plans.
Discussions about money can be uncomfortable, but they’re essential to a happy relationship, as finances are a primary source of conflict between intimate partners. This is because money is tied to personal values including those related to family, culture, upbringing and status. I suggest you talk about money generally first and then address specific behaviors, as once you have a better understanding of their personal values related to money, it might help you to see their behavior in a different light.
Some questions that you might want to consider include:
What does money mean to you? How did you feel about money growing up? How does your income relate to your sense of self? How did our parents approach money? How much do you want to earn? How do you feel about earning more or less than your partner (and how does gender factor into your expectations)? What percentage do you want to save? What percentage do you put aside for your kids’ education (if any)? How do you manage discretionary spending? Do you prefer to keep your money together, apart or a combination of the two? Do you (want to) financially support your family in any way? This is just the tip of the iceberg and you’ll need to have ongoing conversations as your financial situation evolves.
3. They don’t speak up about family/in-law related issues.
When a relationship is relatively new, you may have the tendency to avoid difficult conversations in order to reduce tension and conflict in the relationship. And while it’s important to let some things slide, you don’t want to suppress negative emotions, as talking about them can deepen intimacy and help you to better understand one another.
If you haven’t yet discussed the roles your families (e.g. parents, siblings, grandparents) play in your lives, now is a good time to start. Some questions to consider:
How often do you plan to get together with your family?
Is an unannounced pop-in something you enjoy?
Are your parents involved in your finances?
Do you plan to offer financial support to anyone in your family? In some cultures and families, this is the norm and in others, it’s not.
Would you like family members to stay/live with you for extended periods of time (or indefinitely)?
If you plan to have children, what role with their grandparents play in their upbringing?
4. They don’t talk About sex.
The data doesn’t lie: talking about sex leads to more fulfilling sex. Unfortunately, most of us don’t talk about sex until there is a problem and we tend to wait to discuss it until the problem festers for some time. Instead of waiting for issues to arise (they inevitably will and it’s not a huge deal!), talk about sex from the get-go. Start with the three Fs: feelings, frequency and fantasies.
How do you need to feel in order to enjoy sex?
How often do you want to have sex?
What are the themes of your fantasies?