Have you and your partner been discussing engagement and marriage more and more lately? Before you move into the engagement season, it’s helpful to explore the signs that you may be ready to get married. Throughout this article, we’ll explore five ways to gauge your relationship and how to prepare for marriage.
You share values and beliefs with your partner.
At your core, you and your partner have principles you live by. Many clinicians agree that core values are essential to a thriving relationship as there can be alignment on life trajectory, conflict, and one’s moral compass. Some of a couple’s values and beliefs may include:
- Gender roles
- Financial goals
Each relationship is unique, and discussing what values and beliefs are essential to you can be helpful. Make sure both you and your partner take the time to address important values and beliefs before engagement and marriage. Ensuring alignment on critical values prior to marriage leads to flourishing couples long term and avoiding pitfalls down the road.
There is transparency and trust in all aspects of your relationship.
In a healthy marriage, a couple consistently communicates and addresses concerns as they arise. This means that a couple needs to bring transparency in all aspects of their life, like finances, debt, family dynamics, and family planning. For example, a couple may be getting married and savings for a house. Yet, one partner didn’t disclose their student loan debt, and the lack of transparency could lead to trust concerns. When a couple has the full picture, they can make goals and decisions together.
Similarly, discussing expectations with family living arrangements and planning is incredibly helpful. You can prepare for a trustworthy marriage through open discussions, like if or when your aging parents will move in with you and your to-be spouse. Additionally, you and your partner should understand each other’s stance on family planning. Do you both want children? Do you both know how the other person wants to parent? What’s your partner’s stance on faith? The more honest, consistent conversations you have, the more transparency you will establish. It’s also important to note that opinions or feelings may change over time. Therefore, it’s crucial to update your partner, so they aren’t working off of assumptions or false information.
You can accept and address conflict.
Research shows that some couples believe that time will solve their problems. This can lead to sweeping items under the rug or assuming that avoiding the issue long enough will allow the relationship to resume without hindrance. However, fights can actually be good for your relationship! Addressing conflict head-on can help you and your partner learn about each other and cultivate conflict habits. Further, fighting before marriage can help you experience all aspects of your partner instead of only imagining an ideal husband or wife. An idealistic distortion could lead to disappointment in the first few years of marriage or even stoke the fear that you married the wrong person. There are healthy ways to express differences; seeing your partner’s sides before “I do” can yield less disappointment and more understanding.
Your close friends and family have noted positive changes in you since your relationship began.
Family and friends are robust support systems throughout life. It can be helpful to glean their insights into how you have changed since starting to date your partner. There is research that shows that the five people you spend the most time with are usually an accurate portrayal of you. More than likely, your partner is one of those people. It can be useful to take inventory and consider the five closest people in your life, including your partner, and whether they are helping you make positive changes or are there undertones of negative ripple effects. Having an open discussion with your family and friends allows for their influence. Those in your closest circle can give insight into whether your partner is impacting you in positive, negative, or neutral ways as you are pursuing your goals. It is important to take the time to talk to your circle of influence!
The opinion of your friends or family is not the sole indicator that your relationship is ready for marriage. For example, if your parents, family, or friends are not supportive of your sexual orientation or the ethnicity of your partner, then having other influences in your life to gauge the impact on you may be a better fit. There could also be other factors or elements that family and friends may not be approving of like an age difference, children from a previous marriage, or extended family. If you see factors like those mentioned above, then it may be helpful to talk to circles of influence that understand your relationship well.
You are great friends.
You and your partner may have excellent chemistry, but do you also enjoy their companionship? It can be helpful to consider how you and your partner relate as friends. Some couples have mutual interests or hobbies that fill their leisure time, while others teach each other about what interests them.
Remember to consider living habits and how they may change as you prepare for marriage. One partner may have a lifestyle of doing laundry monthly, while the other does laundry twice a week. Another example may be a faith practice of attending church weekly or having a daily prayer time, while the other partner does not have an active faith practice or a different expectation. It’s important to approach marriage as a long-term connection that runs much deeper than a spark. You and your partner can cultivate an entire life together.
Are you ready for marriage?
Connect Couples offers a premarital program using the Prepare-Enrich assessment – that includes specific conversations and activities that address the five signs discussed above. If this article has prompted questions, talk to your fiancé and explore premarital counseling to ensure you are ready for marriage.