When you're wondering whether your relationship is a good candidate for a long-term commitment there's a lot to take into account. This checklist focuses on maturity in a number of different areas. Answering these questions may help you and your partner to get a fresh perspective on how ready you are right now to make and sustain an ongoing commitment.
The checklist was developed by author and former counsellor Rhonda Pritchard. It is published in her book Love in the Real World, about starting and keeping close relationships. As she says " We don't have to be models of maturity all the time. However, it helps a relationship to put value on being grown-up and to make that a goal for oursleves. This is a lifetime endeavour".
The Grown-Up Checklist
(From Love in the Real World by Rhonda Pritchard)
In what ways do we show we can each fend for ourselves?
- Does each of us manage our own physical care, run a household adequately, take care of our own health?
- Are we each financially self -supporting, at our level of capability, or have we demonstrated our capability to be financially self-supporting?
- Do we each plan ahead, for example take responsibility for birth control, improve our education or training? If we have disposable resources, do we each insure any property we may own against damage, save money, plan holidays, prepare for setbacks?
- Does each of us pay our bills on time, stay out of serious debt, and pay tax?
- If either of us has a problem, whether financial, physical, emotional or practical, do we each apply problem solving strategies, for example discuss options, set goals, seek help?
- Do we each have friends or family or a network of people who can provide for some of our practical, social or emotional needs?
- Are there signs that each of us copes adequately with being alone sometimes?
- Does each of us have enough self-esteem to be able to survive without the constant reassurance of another person?
- Does each of us demonstrate the communication abilities to ask for help, set limits and be direct about our concerns?
How much self control do we each have?
- Does each of us have enough control over our impulses to refrain from violence, raging outbursts, or other kinds of abusive behaviour?
- Does each of us have control over our drinking or substance taking, for example will stop before getting drunk and will sometimes refuse to have any?
- If either of us is attracted to another person, will each of us resist the temptation to become sexually involved with that person?
Do we each take responsibility?
- Are we both reliable enough to act on any promises or commitments we each make, and by the agreed time?
- If either of us does something wrong, do we each own our mistake, or do we defend ourselves or blame someone else?
- Are we both willing to apologise for offending the other?
- Are we both willing to accept that if the other does not interpret our behaviour in the way we intend, this is not the other person's 'fault'?
- Do we each recognise our own feelings of hurt, fear or anger and know how to express them without sulking or dumping on the other?
- Do we each take responsibility for our actions and avoid blaming parents, or whoever else influenced us as children?
- Do we each examine our own behaviour and take steps to change those patterns that are destructive?
How do we each show signs of being able to care for someone else?
- Does each of us have the ability to empathise (to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, to imagine how someone else might be feeling)?
- Does each of us care when another is unwell, or upset?
- Are we both willing, sometimes, to relinquish our claim to be 'in the right' to bring a stand-off to an end? To sometimes choose peace, rather than to insist on justice?
- Does each of us give warmth and affection that is separate from sexual approaches?
- Do we both make small sacrifices sometimes to make the other person's life easier or more comfortable?
- Do we offer each other practical support?
- Do we each give the other specific compliments?
- Do we both give each other pleasant surprises?
Love in the Real World is available from Parson's Music and Books in Lambton Quay, Wellington.