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Think you’ve found The One? Put her under the Men’s Health relationship microscope to find out for sure, and save your heart and your bank account from being emptied.
The cost of marrying the wrong partner is way more than just replacing half your CD collection; it’ll set you back serious money. “Most men decide quite early on that they ‘know’ their partner, so they stop reading between the lines and ignore vital early warning signs. Bad traits like lying or a temper will only get worse over time, while good traits, like shared interests, often don’t last,” says Dr John Van Epp, registered marital therapist, counsellor and psychologist. Read further to figure out if she’s a keeper before you get too emotionally, and financially, embroiled.
Is she self centered?
While you don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot, studies conducted by the University of Texas found her generosity of spirit is respon-sible for your happiness. After monitoring couples, they discovered that women are responsible for ‘maintenance behaviours’ – selfless acts like taking charge of the household chores and starting ‘couply’ rituals, which will directly influence how happy you will be in years to come.
The test:. Dinner for two. Once you’re settled, study her rather than looking around the restaurant. This is a great opportunity to assess whether she’s into you or not. “Women tend to be ‘people-pleasers’ so signs that she doesn’t care about your wellbeing are a real warning,” says Dr Ian Kerner, author of She Comes First.
Fail: She leans over and grabs food off your plate without offering a bite of hers in return. “This ‘space invading’ signals a dangerous ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is also mine’ attitude.”
Pass: She doesn’t dominate the conversation; “Keepers ask more questions, speak for shorter periods and use ‘hedgers’ – words that show consideration for your feelings, such as ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’,” says Dr Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men.
Does she have patience?
The University of Texas study shows empathy and patience are vital for long-lasting unions. “If she doesn’t have these traits, once the honeymoon period is over and she sees the ‘real you’ – foibles and all – she’ll be out the door,” says Kerner. Taking the dog, car and your favourite music with her.
The test: Hit the shops.Go to the supermarket and see how she reacts to other stressed shoppers. “How she treats others is an indicator of her true nature,” says Van Epp.
Fail: If the corner of her mouth curls up slightly it’s a sign of contempt according to Dr Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California Medical School.
Pass: She’s mimicking the slack-jawed teller’s expression. Various studies by the Université Paris found that we tend to mimic the facial expressions of people we empathise with when they talk.
Is she fatalistic?
While you don’t want to be dating a martyr, you do need to make sure she can take responsibility for her own actions. “If she can’t face up to her own faults every time you argue, she’ll pin all the blame on you,” says Haltzman.
The test: Ask about her day.
The next time she is sounding off about her crazy boss, listen. “Is she always the victim or does she admit she might have played a part in what happened?” says Haltzman.
Fail: She’s passive rather than active in her narrative. “If things keep ‘happening’ to her she may be unable to face up to her own (bad) behaviour,” says Van Epp. Beware: she’ll expect you to rescue her. Repeatedly.
Pass: She doubts herself.
“If she questions what she did or mentions how she will change her behaviour this shows problem-solving ability and adaptability – two traits crucial for maintaining a
relationship,” says Van Epp.
How does she treat her loved ones?
“How she treats those closest to her predicts the way she’ll treat you,” says Van Epp.
The test: Meet the parents.
“Parental behaviour will be her blueprint for a relationship,” says Van Epp.
Fail: You disagree with the way her family fights. “Take careful note of her family’s arguing style – do they sulk or scream. How similar is this to your own?” says Van Epp.
Pass: Her parents resolve differences. “It’s not the arguing that kills a marriage it’s the arguing style,” Dr John Gottman, author of Why Marriages Succeed Or Fail, “Don’t get personal or defensive.” Make sure you have five positive interactions for every fight.