Once you’ve been dating someone for a certain amount of time or reach a certain age, it may feel like every other person feels the need to ask when you’re going to get married. It can be more than annoying, especially when you’re not sure how to respond or how you even feel about marriage. No matter how much you love your significant other, there is no doubt that marriage is a big step and one that shouldn’t be done on a whim to simply subdue societal pressures. With divorce rates in the U.S. reaching 40 to 50%, successful marriages are becoming a true rarity.
The great news is if you’re truly honest with yourself you probably have a pretty good idea if your partner is “the one” (or one of “the ones”) and if, as a couple, you’re ready for marriage. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to see your relationship in black and white terms. There are too many factors to consider and any clarity will be clouded over by your own fears, your partner’s feelings, and the desire to make your friends and family happy. Before you react out of frustration or desperation, and do something you’ll regret take a closer look at yourself and the relationship by evaluating where you stand when it comes to these five areas.
1. You know it’s not your partner’s job to complete you
Far too often people think that marriage will provide the answer to all their problems, that a husband or wife can fill that void or counteract any lacking qualities. Contrary to this assumption, it isn’t a partner’s job to rescue you, fulfill you, or make you feel alive. If you get married because you think this is your partner’s role, your relationship is bound to fail. A solid marriage requires two healthy, whole people to be successful. Just because you get married doesn’t mean your fears and insecurities will dissolve. Sure, your partner is there to provide support when you need it but your issues are your business and ultimately up to you to fix.
2. You’ve communicated your needs and expectations
You know yourself in a way that no one, not even your husband or wife ever will. In order for a marriage to work you need to clearly and honestly communicate your needs and expectations. Do you expect your partner to uproot their life whenever you get a job offer or have a change in career? Is it important that they share your love of travel? Maybe it’s important to you that your partner gives you your freedom or independence. Whatever your deep, true needs and expectations are for marriage, this is the time to communicate them. If you’re open and honest with your partner now, you won’t find yourself in a situation down the road where you’re trapped into something you don’t want.
3. You can handle the mundane
It’s easy to be in a relationship when things are good and easy. The true test comes when it’s time to pay the electric bill or you need to dole out household duties. Marriage is more than a sexual chemistry and fun, it’s a partnership. It isn’t okay for one person to always take the financial burden or heavier workload. As a married couple, you’re going to be faced with daily, real-life challenges like paying the mortgage, driving the kids to school, and deciding where to get the car fixed. Before you jump into a lifelong partnership with your significant other, make sure that you can communicate effectively when it comes to life’s little annoyances.
4. You love your partner as they are
Nobody’s perfect, but before you put a ring on it, you should make sure that you love who your partner is at the core of their being. This means you admire and appreciate the type of person they are and the way they make you feel when you’re with them. Sure, you probably wish they didn’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or liked to go out more (or less), but if you love and accept them as they are, those minor things will begin to seem trivial. Before you walk down the aisle make sure no part of you expects your partner to change once you’re married, you need to love them and accept them for who they are now.
5. You share core values
Some of a marriage’s biggest challenges can be avoided if you and your partner have similar values. Do you both want kids? Do you agree on how to raise them? Are you thrifty or do you like to spend money? Are you aligned in terms of religion? These big ticket items may feel like they don’t matter when you truly love someone, but after the honeymoon phase is over and real life begins, things will go a lot smoother if you either share the same core values or have a plan in place on how you’re going to tackle those issues when they come up.