Lots of people seem to jump head-first into love and marriage without really performing the necessary due diligence, and our thinking is this: If you are willing to exert the effort to build a business plan, or a career, isn't it even more important to do so for one of the most significant partnerships of your life?
In layman's terms, due diligence involves the examination of costs, benefits, and risks for any venture you're about to take on. So how does this apply to love? Well, it helps to think about all the things involved in a relationship, and what scenarios might come into play as you grow together. It's important to spend a lot of time talking to your intended about your future goals, dreams, plans, concerns, ambitions, and limitations. Spend a good deal of time with their family and friends - soon these might be your family and friends, too! In turn, have them spend time with your family and friends. See how your careers (or lack of) affect or have the potential to affect both of you on a day-to-day basis, or over the long term. Look at what you argue about now, and imagine if that conversation were to continue for another 20 years.
Seriously talk through the big stuff - kids, retirement, career goals, money habits, your penchant for risk, your plans about moving your grandparents into live with you, your dream of becoming a foster parent, running for public office, or disappearing to an island for a few years sometime down the road. Forecast different scenarios in their best and worst case; it's important to consider deal-breakers when it comes to risks, reactions to different situations, and things that might tear you apart. Yes, people can grow together and change a bit, but most of the time major problems that develop in relationship leave a good trail of clues early on if you pay attention.