How to Choose a Life Partner: Think of the Future

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Defining Decade" by Meg Jay. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to choose a life partner? Why is this choice so important?

Deciding on how to choose a life partner is a huge decision. So you have to think carefully about the life you want, and what kind of person can provide it for you.

Read more about how to choose a life partner.

How to Choose a Life Partner

Nobody is truly a hundred percent sure about how to choose a life partner. But here are some things you can consider that will likely lead you to the right person for you.

Pick Your Partner With Your Family in Mind

When choosing a life partner, it is easy to forget that the decision involves more than just the two of you. Western culture prizes independence and often glosses over the fact that in picking a spouse, you are creating a future family. This family will include not only your future children but also your new in-laws and extended family. 

When you don’t fully consider the impact this new family will have on your future happiness, you risk setting yourself up for difficulties. The family you create and adopt with your partner will define your life in the decades ahead. 

Of course, you shouldn’t settle down with a partner just because you love her parents and siblings. Your relationship with your partner always has to come first. However, you should give your situation serious thought if you are considering settling down with someone from a family you don’t feel comfortable in. Marrying into a family you don’t fit into might make your life miserable in the future and may also reflect values in your partner you’ve overlooked. Maybe you meet your partner’s family and discover they’re unaffectionate and distant. You may find this explains some of your partner’s behavior, and you might decide this is not how you envision your own future family. 

This is, again, not to say that you should reject someone based only on her family. But her family must factor into the decision. 

If you yourself come from a difficult family background, this decision is even more important, and because you don’t have stable family experiences to draw from, it’s often more difficult. If you are one of these people, you now have an opportunity to create a family environment for yourself that you may once have thought was unobtainable. Examine consciously and thoroughly the kind of family life you envision for yourself in ten and twenty years. Being explicit with yourself about your goals will prevent you from choosing a partner reactively and allowing yourself to fall into the family patterns you would like to evade. 

How to Choose a Life Partner: Think of the Future

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Defining Decade summary:

  • Why the twenties are your most important decade
  • How you were fooled into thinking it was an extended period of youth and freedom
  • Why you should use this decade to find personal and professional success

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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