I know what you’re thinking. I’m young, single, and completely unqualified to write about being ready for marriage. But I googled it, read some books, and watched some videos and, not to brag, but I think I cleared out the clutter and professional jargon to 5 key signs that a relationship is ready for marriage. There are several common traits that qualified people mention in detail. So, this article is more of a note-to-self of things to watch for before making the big dive.
Your relationship might be ready for marriage if:
1. You actually want to spend time with each other, even if sex is never involved!
Sex is addicting. And it’s easy to feel like there’s a lasting connection when you’re physically involved. But sex is like cement that bonds two people together, whether you actually have anything in common or not. This is why it’s best to not have sex until you’re sure you want to be super-glued to this person forever. And the best way to be sure is to wait until the Honeymoon.
But even after you’re glued to the right person, in the later years of marriage there will come a time when neither of you will be interested in or able to have sex. And if you want to have 1 marriage for the rest of your life it’ll be a lot easier in those years if you are with someone you actually like.
2. You genuinely accept their flaws. This means all of them.
In the words of a wise troll lady, “people don’t really change.” We can adapt, sure, but in general people are going to overreact, leave the toilet seat up, and not rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
No one is perfect. And marriage takes two imperfect people and squishes them together to make one imperfect family. What could go wrong?
3. You’re not afraid of the “C” word (commitment)
“How long have you been together?” A kind lady asked me.
“Oh, over 5 yea–” FIVE?! Has it really been that long? That’s a long time. What have I missed?!
I’ll be honest, commitment is scary. But being afraid of the dark doesn’t mean I never sleep, it just means I’ll need a nightlight. Likewise, being afraid of commitment doesn’t mean that I can never be happily married, it means I will need to find a way to make the scary part less scary.
Commitment scares me because I’m afraid of missing out. Or rather, I’m afraid that if we get married we might miss out on being with someone who fits better. A “soul mate” that I never get to be with.
But there’s good news! There’s not one mate for every soul. And really, finding the love of your life is less like finding a puzzle piece and more like growing a garden. We water the love that we want to grow (but I already wrote about that here).
The only way we’ll actually miss out on a good marriage is if we marry someone and don’t try to make it good. What a relief!
4. You feel free to be yourself when they are around.
- Do you laugh at their jokes even though you don’t really think it’s funny?
- Do you say you enjoy something but hate it?
- Do they know you hate it?
- Do you pretend to be happy even when something is really bothering you?
I answered yes to 3 out of 4 of these. And that’s a pretty good sign I need to work on some things before I try to mesh my messy life with someone else’s.
You see, I’m afraid. And I’m not talking about the dark or commitments this time. I’m afraid to act like myself because I’m afraid that who I am will never be good enough for him, or that he won’t like me when I’m emotional/angry/sad/hangry.
But we work through it, or I find a snickers, and shortly after I go back to wearing a mask, and smiling even when I don’t want to. I try to text less and be busier when I’m having an “off” day, because I don’t think he will like me if I’m anything less than 100% happy.
This is not a good solution.
Don’t do what I do. Be open when you talk together. The key to productive fighting (yes, fighting can be good) is to refocus on the issue: It’s not you versus your boyfriend, it’s you and your boyfriend versus the problem.
If you can find a way to talk through your problems, you can find a way to be more comfortable with your relationship and yourself.
5. Disappointments are not a deal breaker.
Finally, the last guideline.
Disappoints don’t always make me run for the door, but even today I felt disappointed with my boyfriend. Specifically—you’ll probably laugh at this—specifically his SnapChat stories. Often times what he thinks is hilarious, I can’t even chuckle at. And while I believe curse words are completely unnecessary, he uses them like I use salt.
Yet this disappointment is not a deal breaker. It doesn’t make me want to drop everything and say “Welp, we gave it a good shot,” (or at least not all the time).
When he doesn’t bring flowers or cancels our date night, I’m disappointed, and that’s okay. I had an expectation, and it wasn’t met. I read somewhere that “expectations are planned resentments.” But something I think couples who are ready for marriage do is talk about the reason behind it.
Bad talk: “I can’t believe you canceled date night again.”
*Partner walks away in rage.*
Better talk: “I’m disappointed that you canceled our plan for tonight because we don’t get many chances to talk, just the two of us, anymore.”
*Partner nods understandingly and pulls out gorgeous bouquet of seasonal flowers.*
Okay, part of that last example is probably fictional, but guys lean on logic to solve relationship problems. They need a cause and a result, and then think of ways to fix it. They aren’t extremely sympathetic, or empathetic, but this fixer-upper attitude makes them caring in their own unique way.
So, when disappointments happen try to find the root of the problem and then work together to build a solution.
If your relationship is deeper than physical attraction, accepting of flaws, committed, genuine, and not full of expectations…Congratulations! Your relationship is ready for the big leagues!
But that doesn’t mean that you or your partner are ready yet. Take time to understand what marriage means to each of you. Talk about fears and expectations openly—without judgement. You might be surprised at what you uncover.
If you would like a more in-depth look into getting ready for marriage, check out this book!
Update: Even though the author no longer agrees with some of the principles, reading from a new perspective helped me be more patient, even with myself.