Our story about Compatibility, Communication, and Commitment.
My fiancée and I have been trying several approaches to enrich our relationship since we started dating some years ago; we are grateful to have found some which have been incredibly rewarding for both our growth as individuals and as a couple. Our friends will often chuckle when hearing accounts of our trials and very frequently ask us to re-tell these stories. The Six Month Conversation is by far the most popular one; since it's a longer story that takes a while to tell, I'm putting this in writing for more convenient sharing :P
Note: keep in mind that this is being shared as an idea which was explored and worked well for me and my fiancée, but it is certainly not meant to suggest that it would work for others :)
So, let's begin by addressing the question, "What exactly is the Six Month Conversation?"
For our budding relationship, the Six Month Conversation was a fork in the road mutually identified and agreed upon very early on (i.e. 1 month into dating). When we reached this point, we would have a lengthy conversation about absolutely everything to the best of our ability and maintaining complete honesty, even in the face of challenging topics. Immediately following the conversation, we would jointly make a decision about whether to (1) stay together in this lifetime, or (2) part ways amicably then and there. We both believed that simply having passed the two litmus tests of having chosen to date one another and the subsequent choice to enter into an exclusive relationship were not enough to keep a couple together, as has been widely evidenced. We both recognized that having a fulfilling and lasting relationship would involve many hardships down the road, and it would be essential that we make the informed, deliberate decision to continue to be in this relationship.
In this post, I will share the agenda my fiancée and I used for the Six Month Conversation, some of our discussion points, and our top three lessons learned. Yes, there's a much longer back story about how we arrived at the idea of even having this conversation and the decision of six months as the marker; that's for another post :)
The Agenda we developed and followed for the Six Month Conversation:
- Core values and beliefs
- Career and financial ambitions / strategy
- Culture and heritage
- Family planning
- Health and wellness
- Lifestyle aspirations
Note: we did not cover relationship-specific questions during the Six Month Conversation. These types of questions were pro-actively addressed along the way in our first six months together.
In each of these categories, I've provided two examples of question trails that came up during our conversation. There were many more questions and lots of scenario-specific discussions, but I hope this provides you with a general idea about the intention for each point :)
Core values and beliefs
- What are your non-negotiable values? Where are they from? What if... (situational questions)?
- What are your and your family's views towards politics? religion? other ideology?
Career and financial ambitions / strategy
- What have you set out to accomplish? For what purpose? Will you be satisfied with any alternatives?
- How are your current finances? How will you manage them to meet your future financial goals?
Culture and heritage
- What are the most important aspects of your culture/heritage that you strive to maintain?
- Does your (entire, extended) family have a history of successful marriages? hereditary conditions? good/bad habits?
Family planning (three examples here, because important.)
- Where is your entire family? How close are you to them? How close do you want to be?
- Do you want to have children? If so, what sort of parents to be? If not, why do you believe this to be the case?
- What are your current thoughts on caring for your parents/family in their old age? Is there such an expectation?
Health and wellness
- What are your health and wellness goals? How are you working towards them? How can I support you?
- What would you do if [scenario] happened to me (e.g. accident, senility, mental illness, terminal illness, and so on)?
- What would be your ideal lifestyle? Why? Is this likely to change? Okay, then where/how can this best be accomplished?
- Where do you want to live? settle down? (e.g. urban/rural, condo/house, mountain/forest/prairie/ocean, etc.)
Our Top Three Lessons Learned (written to younger past ourselves):
- Allocate a lot of time to this conversation, it takes much longer than the three hours you have planned for it (i.e. it ended up going for nearly 18 hours).
- Try not to leave everything about the relationship to be discussed at this checkpoint. Definitely table/park some difficult topics for this checkpoint if it makes sense, but maintain a constant stream of honest and open communication in your relationship.
- This conversation will prove to be a phenomenal experience for discovery for both the self and the couple (i.e. unveiling deeply-rooted reasons for why certain beliefs are held). You may find this to be challenging and find yourself falling towards being defensive, but keep your composure, keep an open mind, and try not to fight.
That's it, thanks for reading! :) would love to hear your thoughts, and I wish you all the best in any such conversations if it turns out to be a thing you decide to do!
Photo Credits: THIS IS IT STUDIOS; https://www.facebook.com/thisisitstudios