Thinking about taking things to the next level of commitment with your sweetie? It's important to be honest with yourself before committing to a lifelong partnership. Below are some questions to get ask yourself before you take the plunge.
Why? You want to be clear about what you're getting into so that you feel confident that the two of you can get through the challenges that life will inevitably throw at you.
Make sure that you feel good about the actual person you are marrying/committed to, and that you are not just excited about getting married. Getting swept up in the romance of the moment can make you blind to potential difficulties in your relationship.
It's okay to have doubts or concerns, in fact if you don't you are probably in denial. Feeling some ambivalence is normal when making a lifelong commitment to an imperfect human being, especially when you know them well enough to know their faults and to know where the two of you sometimes struggle.
A good rule of thumb is that you should feel at least 80% good about marrying this person. If you feel more doubt than that, it's probably a good idea to take a pause before deciding to marry them. Talk to friends and family members about your concerns, or seek counsel from a trusted therapist, clergy member, or coach. Your should feel solid in your heart and body about who you are building your nest with.
Questions to ask yourself before deciding to get married or make a lifelong commitment:
1) Do I feel safe with this person?
It's important to feel physically and emotionally safe with your partner. If you have reason to believe that your partner might be abusive, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT agree to marry them. You need to feel 100% safe in your marriage (this is where the 80% rule does not apply). Otherwise, you could be in for a lifetime of pain. You deserve better.
2) Do I trust this person?
If your marriage looks like most do, you will be sharing your bed, money, possessions, home and possibly children with this person. If you don't trust that they are fundamentally a good, honest person then you are in for a lifetime of anxiety and doubt, (or worse betrayal and deception). Again, the 80% rule does not apply here. You need to trust your spouse 100%. No exceptions.
3) Is this person willing to work on the relationship?
All couples struggle at some point in their relationship. Even the happiest marriages go through rough patches. The good news is that couples can survive their difficulties if they are willing to work through things together. This takes time, attention, and being willing to work on yourself. Sometimes a few good, long talks can get you through whatever is going on. Sometimes help from a professional is called for. Knowing your spouse is willing to work on things, including going to therapy if necessary, is the best way to ensure that you're signing up for life, not just for the good times.
4) Do I enjoy this person's company?
You might have the greatest sex in the world, or they might have a great income, but if you don't like being around your spouse you're going to be unhappy. Ask yourself what's most important to you in your partner: do you need someone you can have intellectually stimulating conversations with? Someone you can laugh with? Someone who you can have adventures with? Be lazy with? Our spouse can't be everything to us, but they should be someone we generally like to be around.
5) Do we share the same values?
If you're all about saving the planet and your sweetie can't bear to give up his SUV, you may be in for a challenge. You and your spouse don't have to agree on everything (my Aunt votes Democrat and my Uncle is a Republican, and they seem to do fine), but you should know where you are aligned and where you differ and be honest with yourself about what you can live with.
6) Do we want the same things in life?
Want lots of kids? Determined to stay living in the big city? Committed to a certain type of lifestyle? There will always be differences, changes, and negotiations about these kinds of issues in any marriage. The key is to make sure you've talked about what you each hope for and what is important you you, and that the things you don't see eye-to-eye on are things you can live with. Some of the singles I work with would not feel complete without having children, others feel okay either way, and still others want to live child-free. Be honest with yourself about what is true for you, and make sure to honor that.
7) Do I feel loved and respected?
The person you marry should love you for who you are, respect you despite your flaws, and treat you well. They might need some gentle instruction about how to demonstrate their love (most people have different love languages and need to learn how their partner likes to be shown love), but the fact of their love and respect should not be in doubt.
If you answered "Yes!" to all of the questions above, Mazel Tov! Your relationship has all the basic requirements for the long haul.
If you answered "No" or "I'm not sure" to any of the above, get some support and get more clarity before you make a decision that will impact the rest of your life.
If you don't have all the information you need to answer the questions then you might not be ready to make the decision yet. Take some more time getting to know your partner and building your relationship.
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