Are You Ready to Get Married?
Posted by Jenn Clark on November 22, 2012 at 8:02 PM
Ah, marriage. For most of us, it's our ultimate relationship goal. It’s the natural conclusion to dating and falling in love. Even as marriage rates decline, very few of us don’t want to get married at some point. Once we meet a great guy and are boyfriend and girlfriend for a year or two, the desire to marry him can be overwhelming.
Just because you want to get married, however, doesn’t mean that you should. Too many people get married too soon, for the wrong reasons, or to the wrong person. Women are especially susceptible to wanting to get married simply for the sake of being married - which is never a good reason to say “till death do us part.”
Just as a good marriage can be the best aspect of your life, a bad one will ruin it. So before you start sending out the “save the date” cards, it’s always wise to make sure you’ve got what it takes to give yourself the best chance of wedded bliss. Use the following as a check list to see if you’re really ready to settle down.
You have a career path in place. Years ago, it was common for a woman to go to college in order to receive a “Mrs. Degree,” meaning she advanced her education simply to find a husband with no intention of having a career. Nowadays, women are discovering they want to work and, in many cases, have to work due to financial stresses. Having career goals you are working toward and won’t abandon once there’s a ring on your finger is a good thing.
You’re independent. As you think about blending your life with another person, it may sound counterintuitive to strive to be independent. These days, however, very few men want a woman who doesn’t know how to take care of herself or handle her business. If you're able to live successfully on your own, you’ll have a better chance of being successful as a married partner. So if you’re simply planning to transition from living off your parents to living off a man, it’s time to rethink that. Instead, work to create your own best life first. That way, you’ll be a valuable addition to a partnership rather than a burden.
You’ve had previous relationships. The idea of marrying your first love may be nice in theory. In reality, however, it’s better to have had some dating experience in the past. Think about it: How do you know what you really want unless you’ve determined what you don’t want? By having a dating history, you’ll also be less likely to feel as though you missed out on having fun and sowing a few oats in your youth. Getting married and having children are grown-up things. It’s perfectly okay to enjoy being young while you can.
You want a marriage, not just a wedding. It’s true that most women long for their wedding day. The dress, the flowers, and a whole bunch of people focused exclusively on you. It may sound fabulous, but while the wedding is one day, your marriage is a lifetime. If your reason for wanting marriage has more to do with planning your five-figure dream ceremony than building a life with your guy, you’re not ready to get married. That kind of thinking will only leave you broke, disappointed, and disillusioned once the honeymoon is over.
You work to resolve conflict. No relationship will be free from disagreements. Even the happiest couples have their moments of misery. When it comes to conflict, the importance is not on its existence, but on how you handle it. If you and your guy are able to solve and work through your differences, that’s a great sign for your future. If you ignore problems or have unresolved issues, that’s not so great.
You like his family. (And he likes yours.) It’s true what they say: When you marry someone, you also marry their families. Plenty of marriages fall apart due to toxic in-laws and family dynamics. While it’s important you get along with each other’s close relatives, it’s also crucial both of you have boundaries with them. Having a difficult mother-in-law is problematic. Being married to a man who won’t stand up for you with her is a complete deal breaker.
You’ve discussed your long-term plans. It’s a fallacy to believe all you need is love for a relationship to survive. Counting on it to keep you together when day-to-day married life begins will set you up for failure. Of course, love is a necessary element in any successful marriage, but also important to have common objectives when it comes to your life together. Whether or not to have kids (and when you’ll have them), how to handle your finances, and having similar goals for the future are just a few of the things you’ll need to address before you get hitched. After the wedding isn’t the time to find out you don’t want the same things out of life.
You trust him. There are plenty of women who think once they get their wandering boyfriend to walk a straight line down the aisle, they’ll cease to have trust issues with him. These women should think again. Simply saying “I do” won’t cause a cheater to change his ways. Sure, he may try to be a good boy for a while but, as they say, once a cheater... It’s bad enough to have a cheating boyfriend; a cheating husband is much, much worse.
You like who he is. Are you okay with his biggest faults or largest pieces of baggage? If you’re constantly struggling to change him into the man you want him to be, chances are you’re not a great match. Marrying someone with the hope they will eventually change is a recipe for disaster. You don’t have to love everything about him, but you do have to love him enough to be able to overlook his flaws.
You like who you are. Being complete and content as an individual is key to any successful relationship. If you’re expecting a marriage to drastically improve how you feel about your life, it’s time to let go of the fairy tale. Marriage isn’t the solution to your problems or struggles, nor will it make you feel whole or less lonely. Legally joining yourself to another should be seen as an addition to an already satisfying life; not as an escape route from unhappiness. When you can honestly say, “I would marry me,” that’s when you are ready to get married.
It should never be forgotten that marriage really is a big deal - despite what divorce rates say. The decision to get married should never be made without a lot of thought, planning, and patience. Even though you might feel anxious and worried that you’ll never make it down the aisle, remind yourself that there’s no rush. It’s better to be absolutely sure you’re doing the right thing than to make a mistake you will have to live with - one way or the other - for the rest of your life.
Be sure to check out Part Two of Jenn’s series on marriage next week when she helps you figure out if he’s ready to get married!
Jenn Clark is a relationship advice expert and author of the book “How to Be a Goddess (A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Woman Men Dream About…).” You can find it on her Facebook page or on Amazon.com.