As a full-time relationship coach, marriage celebrant and married man for more than thirteen years, I have learned that getting married and staying happily married are two completely different challenges many people underestimate. Right now, you might think you’re in love and want to get married, but the real question is, are you ready for marriage?
Fox News recently reported on a Delaware County couple that has been married for 70 years.
Back after the Second World War, the couple had been together for one year and four months when Dominic (husband) popped the question and Armajean (wife) said yes.
And they’ve been married ever since.
When asked what’s the secret to a loving marriage is, they said:
the secret to a good marriage is patience, understanding and a good sense of humour.
That great advice that I’d like to add to.
I think that 90% of the secret to a loving marriage comes down to choosing the right person to get married to.
The other 10% is your approach to marriage which includes things like practising patience, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, presence, active listening, physical intimacy, playfulness, a good sense of humour etc.
In fact, when you’re married to the wrong person chances are you won’t display any of the necessary 10% to make up the 100.
It will end up becoming a chore and hard work rather than a natural expression of your deep love for your significant other.
Consequently, any initial so-called feelings of love you might have had at the start will be replaced over time with feelings of frustration, regret, disappointment, and even resentment.
And no matter how long a couple stays in that situation, given enough time, the relationship will come to an end.
It might take 10, 20, or 30 years, but it WILL end.
If not physically then definitely emotionally.
That’s potentially half or a whole lifetime wasted.
So, making sure you’re ready for marriage with your current chosen eventual life-partner, is crucial for living a good life while avoiding wasting the only life you have.
Now, the goal is NOT to be married long.
It’s great if that’s the case in for you, but it’s not the point I’m making here
It’s far more important to be married happily than long.
If you can do both, great, but that’s not the point here.
I’d much rather you wait for 40 years to meet the right person and be married happily for 40, than getting hitched at 20 but breaking up 10 years later, just because you succumbed to family or social pressure or expectation.
Furthermore, in saying all of that, I also need to be honest in saying that I don’t think it’s possible to be 100% sure of anything, including when or who you choose to get married to.
There’s always a 0.0005% chance for things to go haywire.
It might be small but it’s still a possibility.
That’s just life.
But you CAN improve your predictive accuracy greatly by considering just a few questions and a little introspection, which I share below.
By taking your time, being patient, knowing yourself and your partner well, and considering a few important things, you can greatly improve your chances for knowing you ARE ready for marriage.
Important Elements Indicating You’re Ready for Marriage:
Your partner is supportive and encouraging.
Life can be a cold and lonely place if you try to tackle it alone, and not all spouses turn out to be supportive and encouraging.
But, if you want to be happily married for a long time, these are important qualities to have in your marriage.
So, if your partner provides these two things consistently, chances are you might have a keeper on your hands.
If you’re having a tough day, whom do you call?
Who is your biggest fan?
Do YOU also support and encourage your partner?
If you lack these elements in your relationship at the moment, I would question whether you’re ready for marriage.
And instead of rushing into marriage, perhaps you need to spend more time developing them before tying the knot.
Just a thought.
Your partner doesn’t need to be saved.
This is super important.
I shared a quote on Instagram a while back which created a lot of reaction which showed me I hit a nerve.
Do not treat a man as a renovation project. Make sure the guy you choose has sorted himself out. If his past is still haunting him, he’s addicted to something or is still a child, then steer clear. Be friends all you want, but unless he has fixed himself, you won’t either. A broken man cannot love you the way you need until he has sorted himself. You only end up becoming a person who gave so much of yourself, that you need renovating yourself in the end.
Now, even though women tend to take men on as “fixer-uppers,” it obviously can happen the other way as well.
It’s not that common for men to “save” women, however, for various reasons, but it does happen.
The point is that you’re not ready for marriage when you or your partner needs to be saved.
Yes, good people have the urge to help others.
And yes, we all have constant room for improvement.
But, should you find yourself believing marriage will magically fix your partner into a Mr or Mrs Right, then you’re in for a huge surprise.
You’re asking for huge trouble if you marry someone that needs to be saved by you.
So whether you or they have emotional, substance abuse, or financial issues, it’s best to be cautious.
Sort those things out first as marriage will not fix it in MOST cases.
And you being the exception does not make it the rule for everyone else.
I’m happy if your partner managed to “save” and get you back on the straight and narrow, but that’s not usually what happens in my experience.
Two broken people will not make a whole relationship.
Neither does one broken and one whole person.
You understand that a long-term relationship isn’t always fun and requires work.
You’re definitely not ready for marriage if you believe it’s going to be easy or always fun.
Building and maintaining a life-long happy marriage takes daily intention and work.
Sharing your life with someone day in and day out has its ups and downs.
Hopefully more ups than downs, but still.
Even in the happiest and most relaxed marriages couples have disagreements and problems from time to time.
Granted, HOW they deal with them are completely different from those in unhealthy and unhappy relationships, but they still happen.
So, expect to face some challenges along the way.
Being ignorant or in denial about this is a sure sign you might not be ready for marriage.
Your primary motivation is love.
Why are you getting married?
Or why do you want to get married?
Fear of loneliness?
Some people marry to have children, for financial security, or because all their friends are married.
The point is different people marry for different reasons, and you need to make sure you and your partner are marrying for the right reasons.
If you don’t, you might end up with different expectations, needs and wants which when not met, typically lead to disillusionment, frustration, exhaustion, resentment and eventual breakup.
Save yourself the time, energy, and pain by making sure you want to get married for the right reasons, of which (actual) LOVE is the most important.
Your needs for sex and affection are met.
I still remember watching a Dr Phil show years ago where a couple had intimacy issues.
He said to them that when sex in a relationship is healthy and good, it contributes to about 10% of the overall satisfaction and wellbeing of the relationship.
But, when sex is a problem (in some form or another) it’s 90% of the problem.
Now, without getting lost in the semantics, I couldn’t agree more with the principle.
It’s super important to get on the same page with your partner about matters of the bedroom before you get married.
I don’t care if you’re saving yourself for marriage or whether you’ve had numerous partners before marriage – again, that’s not the point here.
The point is whether you and your partner (spouse to be ) are satisfying each other’s sexual and physical needs and wants in a way that works for you.
How much affection and physical intimacy do you and your partner require to be happy?
Are you or your partner happy with that?
You’re able to solve disagreements effectively.
If you don’t know this yet, let me save you the shock – there will be disagreements!
No matter how much you love your spouse, you WILL disagree on some things at some point.
However, what’s important is not THAT you have conflict but rather HOW you deal with conflict.
If you are able to solve disagreements effectively and constructively, you are definitely heading in the right direction as far as being ready for marriage is concerned.
Take a moment now and think back to your biggest “fight” with your partner.
How did you both handle it?
Were you both satisfied with the eventual outcome?
Also, as you think back to the times when you have disagreed about things (big and small), what patterns do you notice?
Are you OK with that?
Would you be OK with that as part if your marriage?
If not, you might need to spend some time working on this before getting married.
You trust your partner.
Let’s be brutally frank here – you can’t have emotional comfort and therefore marital bliss without trust.
This doesn’t only mean that you believe your partner won’t cheat on you, which is super important.
It also means that you can take your partner at their word.
Their “yes” is their “yes” and their “no” means “no.”
You can trust that they’ll play their part and handle their responsibilities.
When you cannot rely on your partner, your marriage will eventually pay the price.
Trust me on this.
I’ve coached enough couples where one partner was unreliable and could not be trusted.
In the end, it always became too much for the other partner to bear and the relationship suffered or ended.
So the question here is,
Do you and your partner do what you say you’re going to do?
Can you trust each other completely?
If not, you might want to consider if you’re ready for marriage at this stage.
You’re comfortable being alone.
Do you want to be married or do you just have a need to not be alone?
This is a crucial question to consider.
If you’re getting married just to avoid being alone, I’ll simply come right out and say that you’re NOT ready for marriage.
Why? Because in marriage there are plenty of moments where you’ll feel alone (even though you’re not) and you’ll be dealing with stuff your spouse does not understand.
They want to, but they can’t.
Which essentially means you’re alone in your struggle with them as powerless bystanders.
Which makes it worse.
Listen, being alone might not be your preference and might not be great, but it should be manageable.
It should NEVER drive you into the wrong marriage just so you can be with someone.
And no, being with the WRONG person is NOT better than being alone.
I’ve done five years of that.
The question I need you to ask yourself is, can you be comfortable with being alone?
If not, you’re not ready for marriage.
Remember the expression,
If you’re not enough without them, you will never be enough with them!
This means you have the same long-term goals.
In other words, you want the same big things in the long run.
It also means that you can live together in the interim.
When you’re aiming for different things in the long run while being busy with or focused on different (often competing) things in the short run, chances are you’ll eventually drift apart.
I’ve seen this happen with quite a few couples who have been together for a long time.
Unless you actively keep working on your marriage and find ways to keep growing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and experientially, your relationship will most likely die a slow death over time.
So, to save yourself from this drawn-out torture ask yourself this,
- Do my partner and I want the same things long term?
Also, consider that there are a few types of couples that commonly struggle in the long run:
- One partner is introverted (energised by silence and solitude) and the other extroverted (energised by socialising and people)
- One person is bored, or the other is stressed and miserable. It’s hard for both to be happy at the same time.
- One person likes to spend money and the other likes to save.
- One is a slob and the other is extremely neat.
- One is a chronic pursuer and the other one constantly withdraws.
Do you fit the bill?
If you do, how will you compensate for this?
If you’re not compatible on the issues that matter, chances are you might not be ready for marriage just yet.
It would serve you to spend a bit more time thinking this through before jumping into something you’d regret later on.
Here’s another quote I shared on Instagram a while back,
If you have a persistent, nagging feeling that you’re in a relationship with the wrong person, chances are you’re right. That feeling will most likely only grow and eventually shift the relationship in a negative direction, shorten your tolerance fuse, and steal your happiness and overall sense of fulfilment. Listen to the quiet voice in the back of your mind.
Take Away …
Listen, a little caution and patience can save you a lot of grief.
Just because your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread right now, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to be married.
Take a look at the things that really matter before making this important decision.
Be sure you’re ready for marriage.