A wedding is a chance to be a celebrity for the day, to bask in the glow of adoring onlookers, not to mention an opportunity to host an enormous party. Long after the flowers have wilted and your dress is covered in dust, though, you’ll have to live with the realities of married life. Though marriage can enrich your life, it can also be a source of immense pain if you marry the wrong person or aren’t ready for a commitment. Before you get married, you need to ask yourself these five key questions.
Am I independent?
Especially for very young people, marriage signifies the transition to adulthood. If you’re not already an independent adult, though, your transition to wedded bliss can be a bumpy one. Before you tie the knot, you need to be financially independent—or well on your road to independence. It’s also a terrible idea to get married because you don’t want to be alone. Desperation plays no role in the recipe for a happy marriage, so if marriage is nothing but a way to make it harder for your partner to leave, you’re not even close to ready.
Is this a healthy relationship?
Your relationship doesn’t have to be perfect before you get married, but it should be stable and reasonably healthy. Some signs that you’re trapped in an unhealthy relationships include:
- A partner who verbally or physically assaults you
- A history of dishonesty or infidelity that has not yet been resolved
- A history of untreated mental illness or substance abuse
- Serious doubts about your partner’s lifestyle or whether you can live together
Do we have shared goals and values?
Marriage is about more than just romance. It’s a partnership, and that means sharing finances, goals, childrearing styles, and life outlooks. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you do have to have similar dreams for the future. Some issues you absolutely must discuss prior to getting married include:
- Whether and when to have children, and how you intend to raise those children
- Your religious and ethical values
- Your career goals, including whether one of you would like to stay home with your children
- How you’ll divvy up household labor such as cleaning, cooking, and cutting the grass
- How you want to resolve conflicts
- How much time you’ll spend with one another, with friends, and with family
- Whether you’ll attend regular church services, volunteer activities, or other recurring rituals
Do we nurture intimacy?
A good marriage is built on a strong foundation of trust and openness. Many young couples think intimacy refers to sex, but intimacy is actually about emotional closeness. If you’re not ready for this kind of closeness, you’re not ready to get married. Some signs that you have not done enough work on intimacy include:
- Being unable to discuss certain topics with your partner
- Thinking some information, such as details about your health, is too “gross” or intimate for your partner
- Keeping secrets from one another
- Not talking about your day
- Not knowing key details about one another’s lives
Why do I want to get married?
A marriage is forever. It’s not a big party followed by “trying” to stay together. If you’re not certain you can stick with this person for better or for worse, no matter what, then you’re not ready to get married. Marriage is inherently challenging, and if your response to every conflict is to walk away, or if you believe some behaviors should result in an automatic divorce, then marriage isn’t for you. You will face challenges in your marriage, and if you can’t rise above them, you’ll be little more than another divorce statistic.