I'm nothing if not a straight shooter. Some people like it, some people don't. When I taught at Mass College of Art and Design I offered a refreshing view of working as an artist (or that's my opinion). When they tweeted out to name the professor who made the greatest impact on your career two of the most successful graduates named me, much to the school's horror. They didn't appreciate the fact that I offered real world 21st Century advice while they were in the "follow your dreams" and get a second job realm. I've had current Mass Art students reach out to me for help calling me Andy Wan so I'll use it.
Today I want to give you some advice about choosing your significant other. This is a conversation I will have with all three of my sons at some point, and one I wish my Dad (also a very straight shooter) had with me. I'm certainly not referencing my amazing wife Veronica when I say that, but I've had my share of bad choice relationships.
1- How are they with money? You know what-- this is the hardest one and the most important. Are they the kind of person that is always asking you for money? Do they borrow money from other family or friends? Do they have a job but somehow never have any money? YUGE red flag. Money is the root of all evil in this world and that goes into relationships too. You will fight about money when you are living together if you don't choose wisely.
2- Do they live on their own and how does the place look? Do they clean up after themselves? Do they shovel to the pavement?* Do they do things like set flowers and open windows on a nice spring day? If they go from parents house to your house I see trouble. It's not easy living on your own, it's easy to let the place turn into a squatting situation. How do they treat their neighbors or roommates? Are they always the person who has been wronged?
I'll throw in a real world example here-- last Valentine's day Veronica made cookies for all the neighbors and then brought them around. If she treats people she doesn't know well that good, you can imagine how nice she is to me. Big points there.
*You know why I shovel to the pavement? Because that's how you shovel and if you aren't going to do a job right don't do it at all. I do it because my neighbors have to walk down the hill. I do it for the mailman who has to come down my walk. I do it for the kids that have to walk to the school bus. I do it to be a good neighbor.
3- Do they have a job or do they have a career? Do they like it? That's a biggie too because around age 35-40 they're going to re evaluate their lives and decide they've been on the wrong course or that their life doesn't have meaning. It sounds melodramatic but it's a fact of life. You want someone who has drive, who finds pleasure in doing whatever they have to do to put food on the table.
There is that great story about the guys who work the fish market in Seattle (book is called FISH!) and it's all about being positive and making the best of your time here.
Because really when it comes down to it here are the two things I live by; Finish each day and be done with it and don't look back and leave whatever place you were in better then when you got there and that goes for the people as well.
If the person you're with is miserable with their life it's going to impact yours
4- It's a cliche but how do they treat the waitress? I'd add how do they treat store clerks, salesmen, etc? It every conflict is a war imagine how that's going to be when they focus that anger on you.
5- Do you agree on the fundamentals? Kids? Separate Checking Accounts with a joint house account? Lock on the bathroom door? Saving money? Vacation plans? Do they ask you for opinions when making plans or do they just do it all and you're along for the ride?
The reason the divorce rate is so high is because we don't actually take the time to evaluate our prospective partner. It's easy to fall into the excitement of things without looking at them realistically and seriously.
Divorce is costly-- emotionally and financially. Expect $100,000 when all is said and done. That's some serious money and all the more reason why you need to look at this with a clear head.