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7 questions successful couples should be able to answer

Adam driver lena dunham girlsMark Schafer/HBOAre you two on the same page?

People in healthy relationships know they will always be learning about their partner — and their partner will always be surprising them.

But there are certain things about your partner and the relationship in general that you should know pretty early on. We asked a bunch of experts — including a dating coach and a marriage therapist — to tell us the key questions that couples in successful partnerships can answer readily.

Note: If you can’t answer most of these (admittedly tough) questions, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed for a breakup. But it might mean you and your partner need to have some real talk, so that you both understand what you want and expect from the relationship.

What are your partner's biggest emotional triggers?

'Knowing the answer to this question is important because it can defuse conflict and increase empathy within the relationship.

'Often in life we are triggered by external events that remind us of negative feelings from previous trauma. When this happens we tend to lash out at those closest to us.

'If your partner knows what triggers you to behave badly -- and understands the pain that's motivating that behaviour, then they can take a step back and acknowledge that the tension has nothing to do with them.'

-- Emyli Lovz, dating coach

Does your partner have debt?

'How are they currently managing it and how do they plan to pay it off?

'We know that money issues are a big cause of relationships breaking up; so it's essential for both parties to communicate their status and plans so resentments or secrecy doesn't build up.'

-- Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and founder of pregnantish

What are your partner's deal-breakers? What are yours?

'Successful partners know who they are, who they aren't, what their struggles and blind spots are, and perhaps most importantly -- they know their absolute bottom line deal-breakers.

'My wife, for instance, would never tolerate me even looking like I'm even approaching getting violent with her. I make a fist during an argument, and she'll be gone. Now, I've never been in a fight in my life, but this is not about me -- this is about what she knows she cannot tolerate.

'And that's the point -- great partners are actively working on self-awareness, and they actually use their partner's feedback to help them grow.'

-- Hal Runkel, marriage and family therapist and author of 'Choose Your Own Adulthood'

What's your partner's feeling about a general timeline to start your family?

'While we can't always plan for this, it's essential for couples to both want to have a child(ren) before going down this path. This is literally one of the biggest decisions of your life and relationship and you can't have only one 'yes.''

-- Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and founder of pregnantish

Are you both committed first and foremost to your relationship and to one another?

'Do we have each other's back? Are our partner's concerns first and foremost on our minds and agendas? Even when our priorities are different, are we conscientious about considering our partner's needs in any decisions that we make that may affect the relationship?

'Partners who are present to one another are committed to their relationship. For them the relationship comes first, even with the distractions that go with career success. Everyone else should come second.'

-- Michael McNulty, Master Trainer and Certified Gottman Relationship Therapist from The Chicago Relationship Center

How can you support your partner when they are at their lowest?

'This helps you to communicate effectively during times of stress.

'Some people prefer to talk through a problem while others like to work it out in the gym to de-stress. If you know how your partner prefers to communicate in times of hardship, you can demonstrate your emotional compassion in a way that puts them more at ease.

'This can help them to better process the problem and leads to faster and more effective resolutions.'

-- Emyli Lovz, dating coach

Do you regularly point out things to your partner that you appreciate about them?

'Successful partners need to show appreciate to one another. This helps partners cultivate a habit of mind of scanning for the positive in their relationship rather than the negative, which breeds contempt, the strongest predictor of divorce.'

-- Michael McNulty, Master Trainer and Certified Gottman Relationship Therapist from The Chicago Relationship Center

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