One of the age old questions that I get from clients who are looking for a new partner is, “What should I be looking for in a new spouse?” The question is an appropriate one, but often times what’s not being taken into consideration, is all the necessary work that needs to occur before one can even ask the question.
First and primarily, have you worked through the relationship that has just ended? Whether the relationship ended because of death or divorce, getting into another relationship too quickly only accomplishes insulating you from having to deal with feelings. It also prevents you from asking yourself hard questions and learning from your choices.
You need to grieve the relationship that has just ended. The ending of relationships is often times very similar to a death. Giving yourself permission to let the relationship be finished is important. With that process, allow yourself to determine what was positive and negative about that relationship. What do I need to forgive in that relationship? And what in myself do I need to forgive? What did I learn from my relationship with this person?
If you can courageously ask yourself these questions you will begin to get a pretty good idea of where you want to be headed in the future. This process will give you a profile of the type of individual you are well suited for. It will also yield you the armor to be both looking for different individuals, and asking different questions than you have in the past. Know that your inclination will be to continue to be attracted to the same kind of person that you always were.
Next, given what you have been learning from your questioning, ask yourself these questions:
Often times we find ourselves unwilling to entertain these questions for fear that we may not like the answers, or that it will destroy a potential relationship. Instead we focus our energy into being swept away and falling in love.
I will end by saying you may fall in love with someone, that could still happen. However, it will be even better if you’ve done your homework beforehand, before you fall in love. Then the falling in love, and being in love will have much stronger legs to stand on. The task before all who find themselves in this position is a difficult one, but not impossible for those who slow themselves down long enough to ask questions. Then, have the courage to listen to the answers. The results could really yield you the person of your dreams.
Gerry Bruhn, LISW
Individual, Couples, and Family Therapist serving Sioux City, Iowa