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Like all good Jewish boys, I’m very close with my mom. She’s the person I come to when I need job advice, friend advice, and most importantly, relationship advice. She’s been a fountain of guidance and knowledge throughout the years, but one of the most important things she ever told me was that “there is no such thing as ‘too soon’ in a relationship to ask the serious questions.” While I don’t believe that’s entirely true (talking about kids on a first date is a great way to not get a second one), I do agree that many people put off make-or-break conversations in a relationship until it’s too late.
By the time you’re three months into a relationship, you should have a pretty good idea of whether it’s serious or not. You might not have dropped the L-bomb yet, but you should at least know whether that feeling is approaching or not. And if it is, you should know that it’s going to make it a hell of a lot harder to break up with that person, even for a valid reason. Before you get to that stage, you need to get some important conversations and questions out of the way, so you know, at the very least, that there are no deal-breakers in your relationship. Don’t wait until you’re a year, two years, or god forbid, married to discuss these things. Bring it up early, and get it over with. On the advice of the smartest woman I know, here’s what you should be asking:
Do you want kids?
This is the big one, for obvious reasons. Having kids is the biggest life decision you will ever make, and if you and your partner differ on your desire to have them, your relationship will not work. There are some things in relationships you can compromise on, and this is not one of them. A person who wants kids is never going to be happy having a childless life, and a person who doesn’t want them will hate being a parent. There are many upsides and downsides to both views, and neither are bad, but they are not compatible. Get this question out early, and get a definitive answer from both of you. This is not the time to lie to save the relationship, because it won’t work.
Will you want your kids to be raised religiously, and if so, how?
I think by now you can tell that the biggest decisions in a relationship pertain to having children. I know, when you’re three months into the honeymoon stage, asking about specific child-rearing tactics sounds crazy, but it’s not. It’s just smart. If you’re a devout Catholic, and the person you’re dating wants their kids to be raised without religion, that’s going to cause major problems. You need to be on the same page well before this issue naturally arises.
This conversation can also get very complicated, as both of you are forced to think, possibly for the first time, about how you would want your faith (or lack thereof) to get passed on to your family. I was raised religiously and culturally Jewish, and my girlfriend was raised casually Presbyterian, and it took several long, tough, and if we’re being honest, drunken conversations to figure out how we would want to raise our extremely hypothetical children. (We’re gonna celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Easter, and Passover. No church on Sundays and no synagogue on Saturdays, because they’re boring as fuck. We’re still in negotiations about the Bar Mitzvah/Baptism decisions).
What do you spend money on?
This is easier than the last two, but still very important. While it might seem like a no-brainer, this is one where you could easily get blindsided. Some people live frugally day-to-day so that they can travel as much as possible. Some people go shopping on their lunch breaks three times a week. One of my girlfriend’s friends just bought a $5,000 couch for her and her boyfriend’s apartment, which would be an instant breakup in my relationship.
It’s obvious that this misalignment in financial values would be a huge problem when you’re married and sharing a bank account, but it can be a major issue well before then. If you want to eat out at fancy restaurants every Friday while your partner allotted all their spending money to concert tickets, y’all aren’t going to hang out very often. And if you think you can figure this out without a specific conversation about it, you’re in for a rough surprise. Imagine being two years into a relationship, looking into moving in together, and your girlfriend tells you that she bought a couch for five fucking racks instead of saving that money for a European vacation or, like, an aboveground jacuzzi or something. Nightmare.
How often would you like to see your parents?
I know that sounds like the start of a kidnapper’s monologue, but it’s a valid question, especially if you live near them, and even more especially if their parents suck. If you’re the kind of person that only sees their parents on major holidays, getting roped into your partner’s family dinners every Sunday sounds like a horror story. On the other hand, if you’re super close with your parents, the idea of only seeing them four times a year is akin to being in prison. Luckily, this is one of the easiest questions to reach a compromise on.
Is eating in the bed acceptable?
This one’s not from my mom. It’s from me. You won’t find this question in any relationship guide, but goddamn it, it needs to be asked. If you don’t have this conversation early in a relationship, pretty soon you’re nearly three years in, talking about moving in together, and realizing that your girlfriend is a fucking monster who eats in bed constantly. And I’m not talking about, like, Starburst or stuff that doesn’t make a mess. Pretzels. Cookies. Ice cream. She once fell asleep with a piece of pizza in her hand. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Ask this question on date number one. Or be prepared to spend your hard earned paycheck on a two-bedroom so you can sleep in a non-crumb filled ant-infested nest of filth. Save yourselves..
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