If you're considering taking your relationship to the next level, whether that's moving in together or getting engaged, there are 10 important questions you should ask your partner, according to a new study from the University of Exeter.
The study, which has been endorsed by Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who has represented the likes of Prince Charles and Paul McCartney in their divorce cases (yes, she's the woman who Heather Mills threw a jug of water over at the conclusion of her divorce hearing with Paul McCartney), investigated the foundations of serious relationships, concluding that they last longest when based on friendship, respect, realistic expectations, shared interests and humour.
The research team first spoke to divorce lawyers, mediators and judges in order to narrow down the main reasons why a relationship might fail, pinpointing incompatibility, unrealistic expectations, inability to face issues in the relationship and failure to nurture the relationship. They then interviewed 43 couples who'd been married for 10 years, or who had separated during this time, then ten other couples in same and opposite sex relationships, who'd either been living together, married or in civil partnerships for at least 15 years.
The findings were used to come up with a list of 10 'critical questions' that couples should ask one another to determine whether they are actually a 'good fit.'
The 10 questions you should ask yourself before committing to a serious relationship
- Are my partner and I a 'good fit'?
- Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
- Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
- Are our expectations realistic?
- Do we generally see the best in each other?
- Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
- Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
- Are we both committed to working through hard times?
- When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
- Do we each have supportive others around us?
"Wearing my 'professional hat' - as a divorce lawyer for over 40 years - more than 50 per cent of the people consulting me about divorce have said they realised either before or very soon into their marriages, that they were fundamentally incompatible with their partners," Baroness Shackleton said.
She went on to champion the need for better relationship education in schools, highlighting the fact that while pastoral care for teenagers often focuses on 'sex, drugs and alcohol,' there is still 'little or no [discussion] in relation to the most important decision a person makes - namely with whom you settle down and have children,' she said.