Am I Ready For Marriage?
Q: “I am recently engaged, but wondering if I am really ready to get married. I’m 27, in a stable job and have been dating my fiance for 2 years. I think I’m ready for marriage, but how can I be sure?”
A: Congratulations on your engagement! Now that you’re in the wedding planning stage of your relationship, you want to be sure that you are really ready for the big commitment that you are making to your fiance. Your awareness of the magnitude of this commitment is commendable.
Unfortunately there is no set criteria that determines whether or not one is ready to get married. There are, however, a few questions you can ask yourself to determine your readiness to make the commitment that marriage requires.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before getting married.
1. What do you expect from marriage?
Disappointment in marriage is a result of unmet expectations. Be honest with yourself and clear with your spouse-to-be about what you expect from marriage. What does a successful marriage look like to you?
If you expect to have three children and your spouse only wants two, there will be conflict.
If you expect that both of you will work outside of the home and one spouse wants to be a stay-at-home, there will be conflict.
If you expect a certain amount of quality time each week with your spouse and he or she needs or expects less, there will be conflict.
Ask yourself how you feel marriage will improve your life and ask the same of your spouse. You will both be responsible for helping each other to meet your needs with compromise and accommodation even after the honeymoon is over. If you or your future spouse have unreasonable expectations for marriage, you may not be ready for marriage.
2. How do disagree with your partner?
How do you and your fiance handle disagreements? Does one of you become overly emotional while the other shuts down? Do your disagreements rapidly escalate and then die down just as quickly? If you or your spouse-to-be use name-calling, put downs or physical aggression during arguments, then neither of you are ready for marriage.
If you are both able to discuss (whether calmly or passionately) your differing views without resorting to hurtful, childish tactics, stonewalling or aggression, then you are showing a level of emotional maturity that is suitable for marriage. If not, then you should consider individual therapy before walking down the aisle.
3. Do you like your in-laws?
Don’t forget, you’re marrying your in-laws, too! If you don’t get along with your in-laws, mending that relationship before the big day should be a priority.
If your in-laws refuse to work on the relationship, be aware of how your fiance handles the tension between you and your in-laws. Does he or she stand up for you? Do you both overcompensate to please your in-laws? What kind of relationship example have your in-laws set for your future spouse?
These are all great questions to discuss in pre-marital counseling. Before getting married, you will need to know how to deal with in-law tension, whether any currently exists or not. You’ll be surprised how much stress having children could bring to your relationship with your in-laws someday!
4. Do you or your partner struggle with any addictions or mental illness?
If you or your fiance are currently addicted to any substances or activities (such as p*rn, gaming, shopping, etc) you must have a plan to keep yourself on track. If you are in the midst of an addiction or struggling with mental illness, be honest about it and get help. If you suspect your future spouse is dealing with an addiction or mental illness, it is imperative that he or she have the addiction or mental illness under control before getting married. In my opinion, untreated addiction or other mental illness is grounds for divorce, so it is dangerous to marry someone who has not gotten his or her addiction or mental illness treated and under control.
5. Are you financially ready for marriage?
I’m not talking about the cost of a wedding here. I’m reminding you that money is one of the top reasons that couples say they argue! Are you ready to combine finances? If not, are you both clear about who will be paying for what? Do you have an agreement as to what material things you’re working toward? What about how many vacations you’ll take each year and whether or not you’ll send the children to private school? Do you agree on tithing and charitable giving? Take time to lay out a five and ten year plan with your spouse-to-be so that you both have a clear picture of where you are financially and where you are headed.
Even if you decide you aren’t ready for marriage just yet, you may feel differently after some time. If you aren’t ready for marriage yet, let your spouse know and give him or her a timeline so that he or she isn’t waiting on you indefinitely.
Will your marriage last or is it destined for doom? Find out in John Gottman’s The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work.