Your new dating relationship is going great, until…
There are so many possible problems we could use to complete that sentence, from the mildly worrisome to the hugely frightening issue that’s popped up between the two of you.
Are you being too hasty? Or should you get out now?
Let’s talk about how to tell the difference in a few specific issues.
Your Significant Other is a Weird Dresser
I’ll start with the apparently shallow.
I remember my little sister, at a young and foolish pre-teen age, talking about how she would never date a guy who was nerdy or weird, or who wore this or that. So of course, years later when she dated a guy who continually wore Crocs on his feet, we kind of didn’t let her live it down.
But by that point in her life, a few years more mature, she was able to see past the Crocs to the… never mind, that guy ended up being super-weird. She maybe should have taken a cue from his footwear and realized their incompatibility.
In all seriousness, if you meet a guy or a girl who likes to wear things you find strange, it definitely shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in and of itself. What it might be, though, is a signal that the two of you are rather different.
A person’s clothing choices can say a lot about them. Someone who always dresses very sloppily with little care for their appearance might be sloppy in other areas of their life. A hipster with a graphic design job probably won’t be wearing cowboy boots and Wranglers. Just like a cowboy is probably not going to be sporting skinny jeans and a man-bun.
So if you’re finding yourself turned-off by a strange attire choice, stop and ask whether it’s a silly and shallow inclination on your own part, or whether it’s signaling a deeper incompatibility between your personalities.
Your Significant Other Snores like a Buzz saw
Now, if you’re a good Catholic couple practicing chastity, you might never even think of this one pre-marriage. In fact, I remember when I was probably around seven or eight, a non-Catholic extended family member brought his live-in girlfriend to our house one Christmas, and she made some awkward comment about how loudly he snored. My innocent little mind wondered how in the world she had come to know that!
But the reality is that there are actually a few possible ways to glean this information about the person you’re dating, ways that don’t involve cohabitation —like simply asking the person or their roommates. Or like when I fell asleep on the shoulder of my now-husband during a car-trip and snored so loudly that the other three passengers all awkwardly stopped talking and turned to stare.
Could a snoring issue like this be a big problem in the long-run? Possibly. If the non-snorer is a terribly light sleeper, this might not make for a great dynamic in marriage. Some people are chronically grumpy when they don’t get a good night’s sleep. And when you eventually add screaming babies into the mix, things could get ugly.
But should learning that he or she is a terrible snorer be a dating relationship dealbreaker? I would say probably not. Because like a lot of issues, if the two people are set on practicing sacrificial love toward one another and get married, they’ll hopefully be willing to try something like ear plugs or maybe those nose-breathing strips, to find a solution.
But still, it’s definitely something to be aware of as a possible future source of problems.
You Discover you’re Dating a Micromanager
I think there are a lot of different levels to this one. I myself am a bit of a micromanager. If left unchecked, I would probably micromanage the crap out of you.
I try to reign in this tendency of mine as much as I can toward my husband, because I know he’s not terribly fond of it. But I still catch myself occasionally instructing him in the most efficient way to load the dishwasher, or reminding him to un-bunch his dirty socks before throwing them in the laundry hamper.
He’s gotten used to it in the time we’ve been together, but I know some people who wouldn’t be able to stand it—which means they definitely wouldn’t be able to stand an even harder-care micromanager than me.
Case in point: A particular acquaintance of ours likes to try to plan out what her husband eats, what he does in his free time, and I can only imagine every aspect of their household in an even more controlling way than I do. Luckily for them, her husband doesn’t seem to mind.
But if this sounds like your worst nightmare, don’t assume that the hints of it you see now in your dating relationship will go away or lessen with time.
Different personality types go together naturally better than others do. If your significant others has micromanaging tendencies and being micromanaged is at all an issue for you, assess early on how much the two of you will be able to adapt for each other, before it’s too late and you end up with a spouse who drives you insane by planning your every move.
You Have Radically Different Perspectives on Spending Money
I come from an extremely tight-fisted Swiss heritage. My dad and his immigrant parents have the mentality that you save your money. That’s it. You don’t spend money unless you have to. You save it for when you need it.
Whether it be from genetics or instilling, I’ve carried this mentality with me my whole life. But when my now-husband and I started preparing for marriage, things got a little complicated.
My husband was not raised this way at all. His family tends to treat money as something you enjoy when you have it, rather than merely being for your absolute necessities.
I remember as he and I went over a little packet of questions at our engaged encounter, we kind of hit a wall when it came to money discussions. We were just so very different in our mindsets.
But here we are, in a happy marriage despite those differences. Possibly, it’s because we’re actually kind of poor and have simply had to be on the same frugal page. But it’s also taken a lot of compromise and sacrificial love, once again almost entirely on my husband’s part (I found a really good one!).
I’ll be honest, though. I’ve seen or heard of a lot of other marriages becoming strained or worse over money issues. Being married to someone who just does not agree with the way you like to spend or not spend can be very hard.
So if you find yourself at odds with your significant other in the matter of spending, take it seriously. Talk about how set each of you are in your mentality and practices. And if it’s clear that one or both of you really can’t bend on the matter at all, it’s quite possible that you should consider it a dealbreaker.
Some differences really are silly, trivial little things that can be overcome with effort and love. But sometimes, the issue has the makings of a significant problem, and some serious discernment is in order to figure out if the two of you can actually make it in the long-run as a happy and holy couple.