When you're in a long-term relationship, it's hard not to think of a future with your significant other, especially if it's going well. However, if the idea of being with your partner forever makes you feel uneasy, you might want to look for some signs that your long-time partner might not actually be a good spouse. You might love your partner and find that things are working out in the present, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're meant to be with them for the long-haul.
One of the most important factors that determine if someone who is a good partner will also be a good spouse is the expectations of the marriage that both people have before they move forward," says relationship therapist Sarah E. Clark, LMFT, LMHC, CVRT over email. "If people’s expectations of their partner are the same as those they would have of a spouse, then the relationship doesn’t change much when they get married. However, most people have expectations, even ones that they are unaware of, of what marriage should be and what a spouse should do. It’s important for both people to really explore their expectations of marriage and discuss them with each other to determine if they should take that step."
Figuring out your future can feel scary, but it's helpful to know what to look out for when deciding on your relationship's longevity. Here are seven signs that someone who is a good long-term partner may not exactly be the best spouse for you.
1. You Have Different Long-Term Goals
"Some people may have immediate goals that line up with their current relationship, but in the very long-term, they are going a different direction," says relationship expert David Bennett over email. "For example, someone may be great in along-term relationship while enrolled at a university with their partner, but not make a great spouse, because after university they plan on moving half-way across the country to take a job." You and your partner need to have a similar idea of where you see yourself after a certain time, whether that has to do with a family, career, traveling, etc.
2. Their Opinion Of Marriage Is Negative
If your partner has a marriage phobia, you might want to think twice about considering them for marriage. "Sometimes people can be a great partner for two or three years or longer with the idea that there's an easy-out clause," says relationship psychologist Dr. Paulette Sherman over email. "They may not believe in lifetime monogamy, loyalty and commitment. If so, they could be a good long term partner for a period of time but may not be a good spouse if they cannot go the distance or even get behind the concept of marriage."
3. You Feel Differently About Kids
Your relationship might feel great now that it's just the two of you, but to last forever, you need to be on the same page about having kids. "People should discuss it and decide before walking down the aisle whether or not they want to have children," says Clark. "There are a lot of compromises you can make in a marriage, but this one is too big to compromise on unless you have to. If you want kids and your partner doesn’t, you shouldn’t move forward hoping that one of you will change their mind."
4. You Want To Raise Your Family Very Differently
There are may be deal breakers in terms of your long term vision. "For example, you want to raise your kids Jewish, and he wants them to be Muslim," says Sherman. "These things may not affect you in along term relationship but might really impact your family life long-term." It's not to say you can't make these differences work, but their worth thinking about or discussing before committing your life to one another.
5. You Want To Live In Different Places
"One of you may want to live in a house in the suburbs and the other might prefer a city apartment," says Sherman. "One of you may want to live in another country, and another one may want to remain near family. Sometimes these issues are nonexistent at a certain stage in life while dating for a few years, but they become bigger in a lifetime marriage."
6. You Deal With Your Finances Very Differently
Money is a sensitive topic, but it's one that matters long-term. "There are often differences in how people handle money that are mildly amusing or irritating in a relationship, but become huge problems once joint property or debt comes into play after you get married," says Clark. "Pay attention to how your partner handles money. If your partner is dealing with a financial mess, they may not be capable of being the kind of spouse you need. Money is one of the topics that spouses fight over the most, and can be avoided if you know where you both stand before deciding to merge your life with theirs."
7. They're Unwilling To Cope With The Hard Stuff
It's easier to be a good long-term partner when you have your own space and only share bubbles of time together. "When you partner for life, live together, and commit to sharing most things, often there are more responsibilities and stressors, and you see the more challenging parts of someone," says Sherman. "The life stressors of the other person also impact you more directly. As these challenges arise and things may become less fun, a spouse needs to be willing to work through them and stay committed."