Month 1: Maximize Opportunities to Get to Know Each Other

Be sure you feel good about yourself when you’re with your date. The number one requirement for a mate is that they help bring out the best in you.

Don’t lose sight of what’s important: does your new prospect have the qualities that you want in a mate? Be sure you are not just being charmed by good looks, attentiveness, and well-planned time together. Don’t turn your date into a made-up version of what you’re really looking for.


Month 2: Spend Time in Each Other’s Homes

Spending time in each other’s homes gives you a picture of how you would be living if you lived together. Present a true picture, and savvy marketing!

Make sure your home, like you, is “relationship ready.” Put his or her favorite food and drink in your kitchen. While the stomach is probably not the pathway to a man’s heart, all men like to be fed. And while most women don’t expect a full larder, they want to feel survival with you would be possible. Love


Month 3: Reality Check

Concentrate on how your potential mate likes to be treated. Decipher their needs (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and then determine whether you are willing to meet them. At the same time, make sure your own needs are being recognized and fulfilled.

It’s important to teach your date how to treat you well through requests, not through demands. State your desires, and when met, communicate how happy and appreciative you are.

This is also the time to be certain your life goals are compatible. Compare what you want to accomplish, where you want to live, family values, and emotional needs. Continue the relationship only if all important choices are shared. Your dream mate is out there somewhere. If you’re not with the right one, then hold out for the one you want!


Month 4: Determine Emotional and Sexual Compatibility

Sex is a large part of a good relationship, but it can also keep people in relationships that they consider undesirable by all other measures. Lust can be a good connection, but in a playful sense. Sustainable sex is based on depth of love, like, and respect.

If you have decided to postpone sex, discuss your desires openly and thoroughly. It is a red flag if only one person is having problems sticking to the decision. Being on the same page sexually and emotionally keeps a connection in the relationship.


Month 5: Do Things Together

How do you function as a couple? Make sure the things you do run the gamut from traveling, volunteering, and taking courses to double dating, hosting joint parties, running errands, exercising, shopping, and sharing boring, everyday chores.

You need to make sure you enjoy your potential dream mate during run-of-the-mill activities. Anyone can appear attractive and appealing over a great meal by candlelight, but a dream mate will be also be enjoyable to be with while you’re doing simple things like yard work!


Month 6: Get Personal

Know and accept each other’s backgrounds, emotions, work patterns, social patterns, and goals. If you haven’t accepted these things, reevaluate your relationship.

This is also a good time to explore your feelings about the influential people who would be a part of your life together. Think twice if you can’t accept and respect them — particularly if they live in the same town or visit often.

If you think family conflict is an issue that will go away with time, you could be waiting forever (make sure it’s something you two are willing to deal with as a team). When you get married, you rarely marry just the person — you get a whole family and sometimes a village.


Month 7: Determine Spiritual Compatibility

Spiritual compatibility may or may not mean going to services together every week; it means feeling a spiritual connection to your mate. More than being in love with love, spiritual connection is devotion, a sense that this is a good person, and loving your connectedness. A spouse is a huge investment of emotions and time. Without this depth of compatibility, you are likely to think your mate isn’t worth the investment at some point.

You should feel drawn to each other, like just talking is a pleasurable activity. You should also feel confident that you could enjoy each other indefinitely.


Month 8: Conflict Resolution

Couples succeed or fail based on their ability to handle conflict and change. You must be able to communicate anger or sadness without melodrama or excessive pain. Reasonable changes in the relationship should be able to be requested without eliciting a disproportionate response.

Can you offer each other comfort and unconditional support? Can you both express love and joy in a satisfying way? When a fight was over, did you both feel satisfied, listened to, and respected? Conflict is a part of any relationship. If you resolve it quickly and painlessly, learn from the exchange, and achieve a better understanding, then you’re on the right track.


Month 9: Hide Nothing

Honesty is essential. Disclose everything from health problems and debts to family difficulties and skeletons in the closet. And don’t hold back on self-revelation because you fear disapproval. Instead fear holding back and having a partner who is resentful.

Be fully confident you have heard nothing but the truth. It’s impossible to make an informed decision about someone when all the cards aren’t on the table. Not every single past error needs to be revealed, but if something weighs heavy on you, or impacts the present or the future, it needs to be brought to light.


Month 10: Seek a Soul Mate

Whether you like the term or not, a soul mate speaks to something deep within you. There’s trust and intimate intertwinement. You are best friends, and you should feel a closeness that is unmatched by any other relationship.

You couldn’t imagine not going through life arm in arm. Not every relationship looks pretty on the outside, and it doesn’t need to. It is hard to assess what two people feel. You can match or not match. All that matters is that you agree on it. Soul mates know it’s their experience that matters, not having an attractive wrapper.


Month 11: Marriage Is Mutual

Every topic from children and money to sex and household management should be resolved. Make sure you are very clear about the life you want before you say, “I do.” Be certain you are able to speak freely with your mate on any topic, and that you believe you will hear the bad truths — as well as the good. If a wedding is in the works, then you should be so eager that you are ready to run down the aisle.


Month 12: This Is Your Marriage

After nearly a year together, you are experiencing what marriage will be like. If you are not happy, satisfied, and content with what you have now, then change it now!

What you see now is what you will get. Things aren’t going to change just because you have a marriage license and wedding bands. If you can’t live with your partner’s behavior and attitudes, either adapt and make the necessary changes, or exit. Doubts require action.

If you’ve discussed the big things, your partner meets your basic requirements, and you are thrilled about the idea of getting married (and are confident in your ability to be and have a great mate), then you are good to go. Remember this feeling, and let it remind you of why you chose this person in the first place. The best is yet to come.

Click here for a complete list of all Dr. Janet Blair Page’s articles.
Dr. Janet Page is a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years in NYC and Atlanta, and taught for 22 years at Emory University. As the author of “Get Married This Year,” she speaks to audiences around the country about keeping love alive and finding your mate. Click here for more information on her “Get Married This Year” seminars.
  1. Excellent article. Love this quote “The number one requirement for a mate is that they help bring out the best in you.” These are great tips and hopefully will help couples avoid the opposite end of marriage in divorce!

    Thanks for a great read.


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