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Before You Get Serious. . .

It would be nice if married life, or similar long-term commitment with someone else were always like this, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Let's say you decide to get really serious about someone hypothetically speaking.  Sounds great, right?  You meet someone you like, you fall in lust (typo intentional), you get married, and live happily ever after.  Awwwww. . .  It's just like Harry and Sally.   Or Harry and. . .   Meghan.  Puh-leeze.

Let's be a bit more circumspect here and take a little time to think things through before you move in together.  It makes good sense to consider very carefully the six points below, which WILL have an influence on your daily life -- weather you realize and admit that to yourself, or not -- should the two of you decide to embark on a long-term relationship and eventual commitment that leads to the literal or figurative alter in some way, shape, or form.

1) What is he, or she like to sit across the table from during meals?
An adult who manages to enjoy mealtimes with some polish and finesse, or a toddler in the highchair?  You will have many, many, many meals together in the coming years.  Slurping, burping, eating with and licking fingers, plates, or utensils as well as chewing with his or her mouth open is going to get old really fast however mindbogglingly good the sex might be (or seem) right now.  

Sadly, these kinds of icky behaviors are rather more common -- 'Common' being the operative word. -- than you might think.  Have a meal at just about any type so called family chain of restaurants these days, or (shudder) someone's house, and look around if you dare.  The same is true of those even less savory personal habits and behaviors if you take my meaning.

Living with someone day in, day out who acts like he or she was raised in a barn ain't pleasant boys and girls.    Is the object of your desire's lack of polish at the table something that's going to make you uncomfortable, gross you or others out, and embarrass you when you have been invited out for dinner at a place where table linens and real place settings are the expectation?  Are poor table manners in a partner what you want for yourself?  Is this an environment in which you want to raise any children that might come along later?

2) What is his, or her mouth like?
The same is true when it comes to frequent and habitual use of so called blue language.  However exquisite he or she might be in the buff, do you really want to be with someone who is unable to utter a thought that isn't laced with foul language?  Don't you deserve better?

3) Is he, or she prone to calm?
Or more given to loud thumping through life, excitability, or even drama like the sort portrayed in so much reality TV?  Is this REALLY how you want your life to be once things settle down, you have a mortgage, two cars, a large screen TV mounted to the wall somewhere, and a couple of children thrown into the mix?   Do you really want to be embarrassed at work or another public place by some kind of unexpected, ugly scene?  Do you want to be faced with this sort of thing at home at the end of the day or during weekends?  Think about it.

4) What makes your current beloved laugh?
Does he or she prefer more witty, wry, and urbane observations about life?  Or is bathroom humor where it's at?  If you're into the latter yourself, great.  The two of you can knock yourselves out making hilarious hand-in-underarm Bronx cheers at the dinner table like a couple of seven year old boys in the dining hall at summer camp.  

On the other hand, if this isn't your style, imagine what many of your conversations-yet-to-come will be colored by.  Assuming you are both mentally at the same age (thinking adult), is this what you want for yourself now or down the road?  Think about it.  Do you really want to talk about intestinal issues and how hilariously funny all of that is (if you are in grade school)?  Or would you rather discuss the events of the day, current affairs, or the latest novel you are working through?

5) What are your respective backgrounds like?
It makes for a lovely Hollywood ideal to buy into the myth that two people from widely divergent socioeconomic backgrounds can somehow make it all work and live happily ever after.  You know?  The kind of idealized, warm, fuzzy bunnies and kittens, riding off into the sunset, Disney or RomCom type of stories by and through which we are socialized.  And magically, everything works out by 11:59pm on Christmas Eve when it begins to snow.  We see this cliche all of the time.  

If, on the other hand, we are brutally honest about it, and apply more mature perspective, there is much else at play when it comes to two people getting along and productively forging a life together long term.  Some readers will disagree vehemently, but it's hard enough to keep things on an even keel day to day and year to year with another person without vast differences in upbringing, education, aspiration, and outlook complicating things even further.

6) How about his, or her parents and family?

I've saved the best for last.  And there is a lot to think through here since you'll be seeing these people from time to time, like it or not, unless you are lucky enough to enjoy a considerable geographic buffer zone between you.  As much as everything might seem friendly, pleasant, and even chummy at the outset, (over-) familiarity breeds contempt, so it pays to be careful here too and look hard at the bigger picture.  

What are Mom and Dad like when it comes to their personalities?  What is their own background and level of education?  What is their conversation like?  What is their personal behavior like?  If they are retired, do they have active hobbies and interests to fill their days besides clinging to their grown children?  Do Mom and/or Dad thrive on drama?  Does one, or the other exhibit control issues?  Are they aware of and do they respect the concept of boundaries when it comes to those children and associated love interests/spouses/partners?  Is there anything here that could potentially be embarrassing to you later?  

This type of nonsense WILL have an effect on your life together unless your S.O. is really perceptive, honest with him-, or herself, and has your back if and when "the outlaws" make trouble.  Once again, think long and hard about this point.  There's a very good reason we have in-law jokes.

Laugh if you will, but all of this is nevertheless food for serious, deep thought before you ever say, "I do!" to someone. . .  and his or her family.  Some polish, sophistication, grooming, and finesse in a person on whom you have romantic designs will help make daily life much nicer together in the years to come.  Or you could take to approach of so many so called "celebrities" and simply divorce someone who turns out to be a grotesque lout once the real, as well as figurative, honeymoon is over.

Of course, there are many things to look at in the cold light of day with a rational, clear thinking mind, and  there is always compromise in long-term commitments, but to my mind, these half-dozen considerations are biggies that could, potentially, be deal-breakers.  

In an age when few, it seems, wait for things to progress more naturally, and physical intimacy is fast-tracked, an awful lot of people make uninformed, blind, even stupid choices when it comes to the people with whom they set up house.  That leads to later frustration, disappointment, heartache, and potential economic hardship should separation/divorce arise.  Inexplicably, many refuse to admit this to themselves.  

While I hardly advocate non-committal "hooking up," or old-world conventions like matchmakers, and/or arranged marriages, calmer heads should prevail more than they do in the 21st century when it comes to selecting a mate for the long haul, whether that includes actual marriage, or something else.  Guys, don't let The Little General think for you.  

On the contrary, it's in your best interest, to think things through very, very carefully, objectively, and with a clear head before you decide to make things more or less permanent.  It might even be wise to seek outside advice from someone, perhaps a parent or parent figure, who knows you well enough to be clear-eyed and straightforward with you about the romantic situation.  

And no.  None of this is asking for trouble, being mean, or rocking the boat.  It's just good ol' common sense.  Once the two of you get up out of bed and real life kicks in, long term commitment to another person in any form is difficult enough under the best of circumstances.  Why hobble yourself needlessly by ignoring potentially huge red flags flapping in the breeze around and behind your latest sweetheart?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

September P.S.

Another thing to look at in the clear light of day is this.  How loud is the object of your affection?   Is he, or she capable of moderating the voice in a public or private setting and talking quietly?  Or is every statement, every observation, every question delivered at the top or his or her lungs in a way similar to movie hound Bugle Ann?  While I certainly don't suggest  talking at the whisper all of the time, one needn't project as though at a loud bar with pounding background music, or in the midst of 50,000 screaming fans at a professional or college sporting event.  A little bit of refinement, polish, and, well, quiet in a person is a nice (and sadly underrated) thing.  If you want to live your domestic life together at the volume of TV personality (debatable) Rachel Ray, or the old Saturday Night Live sketch The Louds, be my guest.  But, wouldn't things be a little calmer and nicer day to day if it weren't carried out  at the volume of a high school football coach admonishing his team of recalcitrant state championship hopefuls through a series of drills in full equipment on a hot September afternoon?


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