7 things to consider before you enter a relationship


Many people are looking for “the one.” And regardless of whether they exist in such a way, the idea of entering a relationship has become so romanticized that a casual date can lead to thoughts of wedding bells.

Before you enter a relationship, in fact, before you set foot on the dating scene, you need to consider what qualities and attributes you want in a life partner. And we’re not talking physical attributes like “blond hair, blue-eyed, 6-foot-1-inch tall athlete with an attractive amount of stubble.”

We’re talking deal-breakers that will define a relationship and, should you choose to marry that person, your life.

If you’re already in a relationship, how you deal with differences in core values may vary due to the unique nature of each couple. However, if you’re single, there are some baseline non-negotiables to wrap your head around before you enter a relationship.


A healthy relationship of any sort is built on mutual respect. If someone doesn’t respect you with their words, behaviours and actions now, then chances are they won’t when you build a life together.

Be aware of your worth as a human being, and don’t be afraid to look for someone who will show this to you in a relationship. Your core beliefs around respecting yourself, others and the people you love will automatically filter out anyone who doesn’t value people or relationships in the same way.


Make your mind up about sex before you begin exploring these boundaries, otherwise the decision is made for you. You need to decide where “the line” is, and find someone who will respect this. You need to set up boundaries that will help you honour one another.

[Marriage] is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and move in together before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

There’s so much to discuss in this area including sexual history, boundaries around pornographic images, sexting. Sexuality isn’t just about the physical but everything that engages that part of who we are.


In most cases, it’s best to hold off on conversations about children until you know your relationship could be headed somewhere. However, it’s still essential to know if you want children. This will determine what sort of family values a potential partner must hold.

Consider the number of children you’d like to have (if any), and be certain on your views surrounding contraception, adoption and fertility treatments as well. Details and numbers can change over time, but your family values shouldn’t.

As you become more serious, details about how you want to raise a family will also become deal breakers. Make sure you have a united front with the future parent of your children so you can direct and nurture them.

Political views

Politics can seem secondary to life-altering decisions like getting married and having kids, but it still plays a role in a healthy relationship. Ask yourself: Is it important that a potential partner shares the same political views as you? Does this translate to how they choose to vote (if at all), and how would this impact your future children?

Beyond party lines, consider your views on abortion, same-sex marriage, global warming, incarceration and global injustice. You’ll want to agree with your future spouse on most, if not all, of these issues.

If politics is a contentious issue for you, then the ideology of a potential partner must match your own. Couples can, and will, disagree on things, but it’s essential they respect each other enough to allow for their differences and still stand united. 

Gender roles

It goes without saying that you deserve to be with someone who sees you as an equal. However, knowing where you stand on gender roles will play a fundamental role in any future relationships you have.

Do your research, talk to couples you respect and read books on the subject. I recommend The Liberating Truth by Danielle Strickland.

Your stance on women’s and men’s roles in the church, home, workplace and during sex will ultimately dictate what sort of ideals and behaviours you are looking for in a partner. A couple can still function if they disagree on this, but there must be some sort of compromise as this will dictate every aspect of your life and your relationship.


Contrary to popular belief, a date over coffee doesn’t equate to marriage.

However, your values around marriage need to be identified early on in a relationship.

Do you want to get married? Is this something you want in your immediate future, or do you have plans to fly solo for a few years? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, someone else will answer them for you. This could lead to an environment of distrust, doubt and frustration that won’t just hurt you but also the person you’re dating.

Ultimately, marriage is about serving your spouse.

This is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and rush into a relationship before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

Religious beliefs

It’s not as simple as finding out whether someone shares the same religious views as you. It’s about how this is expressed in their life.  You need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable having a partner who has a different belief system to you, and how strong a role you want this to play in their life. Because ultimately, it will impact you and any children you may have.

These may be hard questions to answer—especially when you’re interested in someone—but it’s best to determine what faith and religion means to you before you are swept up in romance and a deal-breaker becomes a “maybe.” 

This article was adapted from RELEVANT magazine’s ‘7 non-negotiables in every relationship’ by the same author.

Are you looking for ‘the one'?

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5 Tips for Healthy Relationships Online


Social media and the Internet are great tools— we get our work done quicker when we use it, and are able to stay connected and have relationships with the people around us. That being said, the perks of online relationships can come with significant cons. We can lose our privacy, take honesty for granted, become passive-aggressive, and even lose out on ‘real’ relationships if we use the Internet the wrong way.

Here are five ways you can facilitate healthy relationships online.

  1. Don’t overshare

A social media post is not the place to share your deepest, darkest fears. It is also not the place to seek self-gratification or talk about the miniscule details of your day. A good friend will be there for you to navigate the heavy parts of life, and to chat about the mundane, like what you had for dinner. Don’t share it with the world—it harms your privacy and can damage your real relationships.

  1. Think before you post

Before you press send on that message, hit ‘like’ or publish a blog, think about the consequences of your post. How will people read them? Can they be taken out of context? Will you go on to regret this?

While you may have good intentions, things we do or don’t say online can have repercussions that we can’t always control. Think about the possible outcomes before you post, not just for your own wellbeing and that of your loved ones, but also how the general public and the media may perceive your words. Will it hurt other people, even unintentionally? If you’re not sure, save it as a draft and ask for a second opinion.

  1. Prioritise face-to-face relationships

It’s not always possible to catch up with friends —this is one of the reasons social media is so useful. However, technology should never be a substitute for real contact. Make time to have a coffee with a loved one, and ask a person how the day is going, even if you just liked their latest Facebook post.

If you can’t physically see a friend, opt for private messages, emails, phone calls or video calls. There’s a real person on the other side of the screen who loves and cares for you—don’t do yourself the disservice of forgetting this.

  1. Consider your motivation

Just as we can have unhealthy relationships in real life, we can also cultivate this online when we speak, post or even ‘like’ something for the wrong reasons. Are you looking for acceptance, gratification, or are you trying to ‘impress’ someone? Perhaps you’ve had a bad day and want to vent, or maybe you want someone to say sorry, so you call them out on social media.

When we facilitate our relationships online from an unhealthy place, we do more damage to ourselves than other people. Stop. Think. Don’t press send. Instead, go and have a real conversation with said person, or seek counselling.

  1. Be selective

Just because the whole world is online, doesn’t mean you have to interact with everyone on it. Remember, a friend request is optional. You don’t have to respond to every message, like every picture or Tweet every day. Don’t let your online relationships steal away your precious time and wellbeing.

Get in the habit of assessing the pros and cons of your online relationships. If there are more cons than pros, perhaps it’s time to take a sabbatical from Facebook or shut down social media for a while. Remember, you are in control, and you have every right to be selective in who you interact with, and what, when and where you do this.

Do you struggle to maintain healthy relationships online? Would you like to strengthen your relationships with loved-ones? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How You Respond to Your Partner Can Change Your Marriage

How-You-Respond-to-Your-Partner-Can-Change-Your-MarriageWhen you notice something, it is quite natural to mention it to the people around you. For instance, if you said, “That’s a nice car; I’d like to buy one of them someday,” you would look to the people around you to comment back and affirm your statement. We do this to develop relationships and strong bonds with people. But we don’t always receive this engaging response to our bid for others to turn toward us.

Imagine if, instead of encouraging you to pursue this dream of buying your “dream vehicle,” your friend said, “As if you’ll ever be able to afford that!” Automatically you shut down, feeling devalued and incapable of reaching this fleeting goal. You might make another attempt at connection and rebid saying, “You never know!” Yet you receive a similar negative response. The other person has chosen to respond to your bid for connection by turning against you.

Then there’s the third option. We all know how disheartening it is to make a comment and receive no reply and no recognition in response to it. When someone ‘turns away’ from our bid, they look away, appear uninterested, or may even bring up a completely irrelevant topic such as, “Can I borrow five bucks?” When people turn away from our bids, we are unable to build a relationship with them.

In a marriage relationship, we send out and respond to countless bids every day. A hand on the shoulder, a question about the day, an apology or witty banter are all ways people show their partner interest and, in essence, build an intimacy with them. Because of this, the way we respond to each other’s bids plays an important role in the day to day, and long term health of our relationships.

In his book “The Relationship Cure” John Gottman talks about the couples we see as “marital masters.” They are people who have a wonderful intimacy, who even in their arguments take the opportunity to hear each other, show one another respect and act mutually interested. These couples are able to weather the conflicts that arise in marriage because they respond to each other’s bids in a positive way; in other words, they ‘turn towards’ each other.

By looking at a study which observed the behaviour of sixty married couples over a weekend and then their relationship status a decade later, Gottman also looked at the consequences that come when we ‘turn against’ our partner, and the long term effects of ‘turning away’ from each other.

Couples who responded negatively in ‘turning against’ their partner’s bids were shown to stay married longer than couples where one party continuously ‘turned away’ and ignored their partner’s bids. Eventually though, many of these couples who responded in an unhealthy manner did divorce. In fact, Gottman goes so far as to say that the regular behaviour of ‘turning away’ through a dismissal of affection, attention or respect is “actually destructive,” and typically resulted in an early divorce among the couples observed.

How do you respond to your partner? Do you engage with their bid for connection and show an interest in them? By doing this, you are building on a solid and long lasting foundation. Perhaps it is easier to habitually respond to your partner in a negative way. You might be absolutely sure of your point of view and find it offensive when your partner questions you. By reacting in this manner and ‘turning against’ them, you are missing the opportunity to engage with your partner in a healthy way.

Or maybe you often take the third option and ‘turn away’ from your partner. You might be preoccupied with the stress of work and finances, perhaps you have lost that ‘spark’ or are uninterested in what they are saying. When we do this, we put a wall between ourselves and our partner. So if you find this occurring in your relationship, make a point to turn off the TV, look your partner in the eye and listen to them. Respond with patience and give them the connection they long for.

A relationship is cultivated every day through our responses to each other. Our bids for connection make our relationships unique and pave the way for intimacy in every season of marriage. To build a healthy marriage, look at how you respond to your partner. Do you turn towards them, turn against, or turn away from them? By taking steps to positively engage with our partner, we can establish a healthy and long lasting relationship.

This blog was put together using John M Gottman PhD’s and Joan DeClaire’s, ‘The Relationship Cure.’ Printed in 2001 by Crown Publishers, pg. 15-18.

Do you want to take your relationship to a new level? Would you like to discuss how cultivate a healthy connection?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Chivalry’s Not Dead

Chivalry-is-Not-DeadIt has often been said that chivalry is dead, but new research by The University of Virginia suggests that couples who stick to old-fashioned values often have healthier and longer lasting relationships.

It is common for couples to live in de facto relationships, and this can be perceived as a natural and healthy progression in a relationship. Interestingly, this study says that people with fewer sexual partners prior to marriage are far happier once they are married. It also highlights that couples who move in together only once they are married, or with the intention of marriage, have a higher expectancy of maintaining a long lasting relationship. In the same way, couples who choose to make their relationship official with a marriage ceremony are shown to have longer lasting relationships. Perhaps it is due to the support of community, or the public recognition of the relationship, but couples who have a larger amount of wedding guests also appear to have more sustainable relationships. What’s more, while it is common to have children prior to marriage, there is a greater possibility of a relationship breaking up when this occurs. You can read the study here.

So what does this mean for you? Are you in a healthy, stable relationship? What can you do to take your relationship to the next level? Perhaps this means considering marrying your partner or committing completely to them? For parents, this could mean speaking to their young adult children about what creates a healthy long term relationship and showing them the research to suggest they navigate these major life events with great thought.

And if you already have children? Perhaps this research shows us that the family unit is more stable within the context of marriage. Consider discussing how to solidify your relationship and in doing so, you can facilitate a stable environment for your children.

It may seem old fashioned, but taking the traditional steps to recognise and maintain a relationship seems to be the best for us. Chivalry’s not dead- in fact it seems to be a factor in creating and maintaining healthy long-term relationships. How can you be more chivalrous in your relationship?

Do you want to take your relationship to a new level? Would you like to discuss how to best prepare for a family?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

5 Traits of a Healthy Relationship

We are all familiar with the strain we feel when we have a friend, family member or a spouse who is particularly demanding. When relationships are not cultivated in a healthy manner, they can leave us feeling physically drained and stressed. Emotionally, an unhealthy relationship can also lead to feelings of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness. It is common to assume that we must always be agreeable and generous in our relationships, but what happens when we are giving too much of these qualities and are receiving none of them back? A quality relationship must be worked at by both parties involved. Here are 5 traits marking a healthy relationship that is both life-giving and fulfilling to everyone involved.

1. Understanding

A healthy relationship will have both people feeling actively empathetic to each other. They will understand the stressors and scenarios that arise in each other’s lives and will cater to this. Therefore, if one person in unable to fulfil an obligation due to arising circumstances, the other will understand and can act as a support network during this period.

2. Forgiveness

Mistakes are made in every relationship and it is inevitable that people will hurt one another, even when they have the best intentions. When conflict comes up, both people actively forgive each other because they acknowledge that their friend has their best interests at heart. There will not be a condoning of the circumstances, but the opportunity to start afresh.

3. Boundaries

Even the closest relationships need down time and it is unhealthy to live in each other’s pockets 24/7. A good relationship is characterised by the ability of both parties to not only ask for help, but to say “no” when they are unable to give it. This may occur if a person needs their own quiet time, must invest in other important relationships, or if they find that the demands of the relationship are impacting their quality of life.

4. Community focused

While a healthy relationship will nurture and grow the bond between two people, it can become clique and fuelled by jealousy if both people limit their quality time to a singular person. A healthy relationship will accept the numerous people in each person’s life and will be understanding and inclusive of these relationships.

5. Honesty

Whether it is little annoyances or life changing scenarios, a healthy relationship is marked by the willingness of both people to talk about the situation and how it can be resolved. In this, both people will speak and listen with a loving intent, respecting the words of the other and discussing openly how this impacts each other’s lives.

Do you struggle to retain healthy boundaries in your relationships? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship with a significant other, relative or friend? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment with Colleen, click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to her online appointment calendar by following the prompts.