Do you match? How do you know? Bringing Realism to Relationship discussions in ESL Classrooms

Are you romantically involved? Do you match your partner? How do you know? Who will you choose to share your life with? Are you considering marriage? Are you already married? Use these questions as a springboard to reflect on your options, choices, and desires on this Valentine’s Day.

Here is chapter #33 from Compelling Conversations that many friends have told me is better for native speakers than English language learners or ESL classrooms. Perhaps they are right. On the other hand, I’ve had great conversations in my adult ESL and college ESL classes using this chapter too.

As both a happily married man of 14 years and the child of divorced parents, these questions seem like smart questions to ask – even for romantics on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps especially on Valentine’s Day when the official propaganda of “love will conquer all” seems so pervasive. So whether English teachers ask themselves, their partner, or their students these questions, I’d like to share this list on my blog tonight.

I’m also including a short videoclip from Discovery News that I found quite interesting on the origins of kissing and how that satisfying activity is believed to have spread around the globe. Enjoy!

The Skinny on Smooching from Discovery News

1. Why do (did) you want to get married?
2. Do (did) you have a checklist of qualities for a potential spouse?
3. What are the three main qualifications on your checklist? Partner?
Provider? Lover? Friend?
4. When did you fall in love? Did one person fall first? Who?
5. How did you know your lover was the one? How did your thinking
evolve?
6. Did you ever have moments of doubt? How did your thinking evolve?
7. Do you think people should live together before they get married?
Why? Can you share some examples?
8. Are sex, love and marriage linked in your mind, or is each separate?
How are they different?
9. What are some endearing qualities of your companion?
10. Do you like your partner’s friends? Do you respect them? Why?
11. What advice have your parents and close friends given you? Your
extended family? How important is their opinion in your decision? Why?
12. Do you think you are marrying only an individual or are you also
marrying your spouse’s family? How would you describe your
potential in-laws?
13. What does your partner do that annoys you?
14. Do you expect to be the pilot, co-pilot, or passenger in the
marriage? Why?
15. What, if anything, would definitely cause you to divorce? Why?

Q U E S T I O N S A N D Q U OTAT I O N S O N T I M E L E S S TO P I C S • 1 0 5
V O C A B U L A R Y
Review these words and expressions. Circle the words that you know.
potential ……………………………………………………………………………………….
neat freak ……………………………………………………………………………………..
spouse …………………………………………………………………………………………..
nupital ………………………………………………………………………………………….
conflicts ………………………………………………………………………………………..
checklist ………………………………………………………………………………………..
resolve ………………………………………………………………………………………….
pre-nuptial ……………………………………………………………………………………
compatible ……………………………………………………………………………………
pack rat ………………………………………………………………………………………..
justify ……………………………………………………………………………………………
evolve …………………………………………………………………………………………..

P R O V E R B S
What do these proverbs mean? Can you share some other proverbs?
The needle is always accompanied by the thread.—Korean
Strange is the affinity that binds two in marriage.—Japanese
Whoever marries only for beauty will live in misery.—Russian

T H E C O N V E R S A T I O N C O N T I N U E S …
1. Thinking about personal preferences, do you like to stay up late or
get up early? Do you have compatible sleeping habits?
2. Do you have similar media habits? What about tastes in TV shows
and movies?
3. Where do you prefer to live? Country? City? Farm? Apartment?
House?
4. Are you a pack rat? Are you a neat freak? Are your styles
compatible?
5. Will you still love your partner when he or she is 64? Will your
partner love you with wrinkles?
6. Do you know an older couple that might be a model for a good
partnership? Who are they?
7. What activities do you enjoy in your leisure time? Will your spouse
join you?
8. Do you and your lover share spending philosophies? Do you shop
together?
9. Do you expect to live with older generations? Who? Why? Where?
When?
10. What is your approach to settling conflicts? How often do you have
conflicts?
11. Do you want children? How many?
N O T E S & Q U E S T I O N S
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1 0 6 • w w w. c o m p e l l i n g c o n v e r s a t i o n s . c o m

12. Do you believe in birth control? Why?
13. How do you think your baby would look like? Why?
14. What kind of parent do you expect your spouse to become? Why?
15. Would you want your sons to be like the man you’re marrying?
Would you want your daughters to be like the woman you’re
marrying?
16. Do you expect to follow family or religious traditions? Which ones?
Why?
17. If disagreements arise about children, how do you expect to
resolve them?
18. Do you think all money should be shared or should each spouse
have separate bank accounts? Why? How do you expect to
manage household expenses?
19. What were the best gifts that you’ve given or received in the
relationship?
20. What passions do you share? What unites you as a couple?
21. Do you have a favorite photograph of you as a couple? Can you
describe it?
22. Where do you want to travel together? What do you want to see
together?
23. What are you looking forward to doing together as a married
couple?
24. How do you expect your life to change once you are married?
What are some advantages of being married?
25. Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to create and preserve
a happy marriage?

Q U O T A T I O N S
Which two quotations come closest to your attitudes?
1. “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy;
if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
—Socrates (470-339 BC), Greek philosopher
2. “Man’s best possession is a sympathetic wife.”
—Euripides (480-406 BC), playwright
3. “I’m so gullible. I’m so damn gullible. And I am so sick of being
gullible.”
—Lana Turner (1921-1995), Hollywood star married seven times
4. “Love is the ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the
real with the ideal never goes unpunished.”
—Goethe (1749-1832), German poet, novelist, and scientist
5. “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an
institution.”
—Mae West (1892-1980), American actress
7. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
—Ali McGraw in Love Story (1970)

“Love is the ideal thing, marriage a real
thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal
never goes unpunished.”
Goethe (1749-1832),
German poet, novelist, and scientist

Q U E S T I O N S A N D Q U OTAT I O N S O N T I M E L E S S TO P I C S • 1 0 7

8. “Marriage: A word that should be pronounced ‘mirage.’”
—Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher
9. “No matter who you get married to, you wake up married to
somebody else.”
—Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls (1955)
10. “Second marriage: the triumph of hope over experience.”
—Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English writer
11. “Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it’s a mistake to make a
habit of it.”
—W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), English novelist
12. “A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too
short.”
—Andre Maurois (1885-1967), French author
13. “A successful marriage is not a gift; it is an achievement.”
—Ann Landers (1918-2002), American advice columnist

O N Y O U R O W N
With your class partner, list three celebrity marriages that have ended in divorce. For each couple who divorced, list two reasons you think their marriage did not last.
Then, list three marriages of well known people that have lasted
more than 20 years. For each couple, list two reasons why you
think their marriage lasted. Share with the class.
1. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………
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2. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….
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3. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….
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1. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………
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2. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….
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3. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….
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Visit www.CompellingConversations.com

The Skinny on Smooching from Discovery News

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