Lesson 4 of 7  - optimize your relationships

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Courtship Worksheet

When Is the Right Time
To Commit to a Mate?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/relate/mates/time.htm

Updated  02-08-2015

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      This is one of a series of articles in self-improvement Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. This article exists because sociologists estimate up to half of U.S. marriages fail legally. Untold millions more fail psychologically, but not legally. Implication - most American couples unintentionally pick the wrong partner, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time.

      This brief YouTube video previews key points in this and related articles: The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this Web site - I've reduced that to seven.

      The wrong people are psychologically wounded, unaware, and in denial of this. Wrong reasons to commit include ending loneliness and anxiety, rescuing, legitimizing sex, proving something to someone, revenge, codependence, and other unhealthy motives. The wrong time is before both mates reduce their wounds and gain the knowledge in this self-improvement course. Does this make sense to you? Do you agree that few courting couples could name and explain these commitment criteria?

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       This worksheet is for childless couples who are dating seriously. If either of you is a single parent now, use this worksheet.

      This worksheet offers criteria for deciding when each partner is ready to commit to a primary relationship. These criteria come from the professional research I began in 1979, and clinical interviews with over 1,000 average (Midwestern U.S.) adults since 1981.

      My research suggests that one of five related reasons for the tragic U.S. divorce epidemic is unawareness of  how to make three wise courtship choices. This is one of five worksheets designed to help courting couples make three wise commitment choices for themselves and any descendents.

         Danger   - you may respond to these worksheets with what you want to believe, vs. what is - so consider getting an objective opinion on your answers.


    Prepare.  To get the most from this worksheet, first study and discuss...

    • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it

    • self-improvement Lessons 1-4 - Parts 1 and 2

    • common courtship danger signs,

    • these Q&A items on dating and marriage, and...

    • this brief research report on cohabiting before marriage  

    who's about to fill out this worksheet - your true Self or some other personality subselves. If the latter, expect distorted results.

    Print this page, and allocate at least 30" of undistracted time. Choose attitudes of...

    • open-minded curiosity, and...

    • "this is a win-win-win investment of my time for me and any future child/ren."

          If you don't genuinely feel these, a protective false self probably controls you.


  • In responding to these worksheet items, imagine being an objective news reporter or a social scientist. Scan the whole worksheet before starting to fill it out.

  • Check each main item as "true" only if you can honestly check all the sub-parts of it. Use "?" if you’re unsure.

  • View unchecked items as projects to work on alone or with your partner.

  • Jot down your thoughts and feelings as you fill out this worksheet. The process of filling it out can be just as instructive as your answers!

  • Star or hilight items that you want to learn more about.

  • Invite your partner to fill out a copy of this checklist - separately. When you're both done, discuss your findings together, and see what happens. Whatever you learn here, keep exploring the other Lesson-4 wise-choice worksheets.

          If you fudge your answers here, you're potentially hurting yourself, your partner, and any descendents.

      The more of items below you can check, the higher the odds you're choosing to commit at the right time. Caution: even if you mates are each choosing to commit at the right time, one or both of you may still be committing to the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

      Thoughtfully check each sub-item and main item that seems "true enough" now. Items are grouped by (a) each partner and then (b) for the couple:

"Is This The Right Time to Commit?"

A) Partner Readiness Factors

Me You

1) ...has lived alone as an adult for at least two years (more is better). Living alone promotes discovery of one's true Self and life purpose, self-confidence, and starting real inner-wound recovery if needed.


2) ... has had enough time to progress well on grieving major broken bonds (losses) from childhood and adulthood. Men need to grieve too!


3) ...has had time to _ honestly assess for significant psychological wounds or _ is clearly self-motivated to do that within the next month.


4) If s/he does identify as a Grown Wounded Child, s/he can now _ clearly name the specific inner wounds s/he needs to heal, and _ has clearly begun implementing a Self-motivated, viable, recovery plan to do so.


5) ...has had a stable set of friends, acquaintances, and supporters for at least 18 months, vs. being socially isolated.


6) ...has had enough time to adjust and stabilize from any major physical, emotional, occupational, financial, geographic, or other life changes - including the end of any prior primary relationship.


7) ...has had enough time to evolve a clear idea about what her/his life-purpose or mission is now, and is pursuing it; or  is now actively seeking to clarify that.


8) ...has had enough time _ to identify the personal needs that s/he wants our relation-ship to fill, and _ to learn the key requisites for a mutually-satisfying primary partnership.


9)  If s/he probably or surely has an addiction to a substance (including nicotine, caffeine, sugar, fat, and/or starches), an activity (e.g. workaholism), a person (e.g. codependence), or an emotional state (e.g. rage or excitement), s/he (a) has clearly dissolved her/his protective denials, and (b) is working steadily at a high-priority, Self-motivated personal addiction-management plan.

      Many average adults are survivors of early-childhood trauma who were or are addicted to reduce relentless inner pain. Do you know the progressive signs of an active addiction to any of these four things?









10) ...now has consistently high self-esteem - i.e. s/he believes that her or his personal feelings, needs, opinions, dignity, and rights are just as important and valid as those of other people.


11) ...can now  (a) clearly describe the seven Lesson-2 communication skills, and is (b) working actively on developing and using them now or s/he is clearly committed to learning and applying these skills in all relationships.


12) ..._ understands the difference between surface problems and the underlying primary needs that cause them, and _ s/he uses this knowledge to resolve current personal and interpersonal problems effectively.


13)  ...can now clearly describe _ what a relationship triangle is, _ why they can be significantly divisive and stressful, and (_ s/he has evolved an effective strategy for preventing - and identifying and resolving - triangles in key relationships.


14) ...has been _ financially stable for at least 18 months, and _  has no major debts now; or  s/he is working a clearly effective, self-motivated plan to eliminate major debts. S/He is _ clearly able to financially support herself/himself now.


15) ...is clearly _ well along in grieving significant losses of key relationships, dreams, rituals, securities, belongings, and identity; and is _ clearly getting on with life in a wholistically-healthy way.


B) Couple-readiness Factors

16)  My partner and I _ know what values conflicts are and _ how to resolve them effectively,

17)  We have had enough time to reach thoughtful, stable agreement on…

__  when and where to live together

__  whether to conceive children together, and if "yes," _ approximately when to do so.

__  when family loyalty conflicts arise, each of us freely ranking our relationship second (after personal wholistic health) above any other relationships and responsibilities except in emergencies.

__  _ any pre-nuptial financial contract/s either of us wants, and _  resolving major debts or legal matters either of us currently has or expects.

__  child discipline values and practices (if appropriate)

__  religious and spiritual beliefs, and worship practices;

__  the contact-frequency, priority, and boundaries with, key relatives

__  retirement and estate plans (wills and trusts)

__  life, property, and medical insurance coverages;

__  legal debt and asset-ownership titles - e.g. property mortgages, vehicle and real estate titles, retirement and savings accounts, notes and loans, credit-card debts...;

__  our strategy for effective problem-solving,

__  a joint good-grief policy, and...

__  a joint anger policy.

18)  And my partner and I have had time to learn and discuss the answers to these quizzes on...

__  personalities and psychological wounds

__  effective-communication basics

__  bonds, losses, and healthy grief

__  relationships

__  families, and if appropriate...

__  effective parenting

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      What are you aware of now? What did you just learn? Is there anyone you want to show this worksheet to and/or discuss your results?


      This is one of five Lesson-4 worksheets that exist because millions of people commit to the wrong partner, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time - and eventually divorce psychologically and/or legally. This worksheet provides a way for courting couples without kids to assess whether this is the right time to pledge long-term commitment to each other.

      This checklist differs from similar instruments because it includes recovery from psychological wounding + unawareness + effective communication skills + healthy grieving as important courtship criteria,

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