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  • Writer's pictureLydia Tack

How To Know You Are Ready For Marriage

Our last blog post took a look at how to know if you’re ready for the highest level of physical intimacy. Huge piece of that puzzle is your level of commitment in the relationship. So how do you know if you’re ready for that degree of commitment?

Fear not! HRT is here to help with some things to consider before taking the marriage plunge! 

  1. Do you know yourself?

Before you can gauge whether or not you should marry someone else, you first need to know who you are. Compatibility takes two pieces, and you need to properly assess both pieces. Are you able to accurately assess what your strengths are? Your weaknesses? Do you understand how your past has shaped you? What sets you off? What makes you feel alive? What are the things you aren’t willing to compromise on? 

There are a lot of questions, and getting to know yourself takes time. If you struggle to answer any of these questions, maybe take some time to think about them. Try journaling and reflecting on some of these questions. Ask those closest to you about them and see how that might affect your thinking. 

Before entering into the kind of serious life-long commitment marriage requires, you want to evaluate if you are who you want to be. You want to ask yourself if you like the direction you are headed. Think about how you handle your emotions and if you do so in a healthy way. Do you take responsibility for your own actions and mistakes? Wherever you are in your life right now is where you are inviting someone into. Is it a good space?*

There are so many things to learn about yourself, and you will continue to get to know yourself throughout your whole life, but here are some suggestions that might give you a little more of an understanding of who you are and how you interact with the world.

What is your Enneagram type?

What is your love language?

What is your attachment style?

  1. Do you have a strong community around you?

It can be easy to have an “us vs the world” mentality in relationships or marriage, but that is not the case! Your spouse isn’t going to be your whole life or your only support. Who else do you have supporting you? Do you have people to go to for advice and support when you have conflicts in your relationship? 

It is always wise to have people who speak into your relationship; not people who meddle or stick their noses where they don’t belong, but wise, responsible people you trust, whom you can invite to help you evaluate your relationship. Mentors who have more life experience, who have maybe faced similar situations before who can offer you advice, support, and outside perspective can help keep you level-headed and realistic in a relationship. Sometimes those around us can see when something is unhealthy before we can because they don’t have the kind of partiality and emotions surrounding the relationship that we do. How does your community respond when you bring up the idea of marriage? Are they excited? Shocked? Concerned? Marriage is a major life decision, and not something to be taken lightly. Talk it over with people you trust.

You are living your life with a spouse in marriage, so think about what that life looks like. How do you contribute to the world around you? How do you participate in something bigger than yourself? 

If you don’t think you have much of an established community, that may be something to build before entering into a marriage. 

  1. Can you envision a future with this person?

This idea might seem pretty obvious. Of course if you are marrying someone, you’re thinking about the future, but what does that future look like? Do the futures you want align? Think about what gives you life a sense of purpose and joy, things you know you want to be a part of your life. Ask your partner the same thing. Can those non-negotiables co-exist? You might think about lifestyles, financial security, family dynamics, work-life balance, division of labor, etc. 

You also want to think about how you relate to this person and how that might grow or change over time. Marrying someone makes them a HUGE priority in your life. Do you love them enough to make them that priority for the rest of your life? Can you make this person your number one, go-to, friend, counsel, and confidant? **

An additional note: Marriage counseling can be a huge help when working through these questions. Don’t skip over it because it may seem “old-fashioned” because it can help you to reach better understandings before the pressure of a marriage. 

  1. Who is this person becoming?

You are not the only person who will be growing and changing in a relationship. Everyone is constantly learning, developing, and growing, so you want to ask yourself if you like the direction this person is going in. You want to take the time to really get to know their character and what they value and believe. There are three layers to someone’s values: what they say they value and believe, what their actions demonstrate they value and believe, and what their patterns enforce that they value and believe. You want to spend enough time with someone that you get to see them in a variety of settings. Do they stick to their values when it’s inconvenient for them or when life becomes difficult? Do they stay humble when things are going well and they are succeeding? 

Watch how they treat other people, especially those who seemingly have nothing to offer them, such as customer service workers and support staff. This is one of the greatest indicators of their integrity and how they live out their values. Take note of how they spend their time and what they are invested in. Are they involved in any community groups, volunteer efforts, sports leagues, etc.? How do they spend their money? These factors will show you what they are truly invested in and where their priorities lie.***

Consider how they respond when they are told no. This is especially important when it comes to your boundaries. Is their main concern ensuring that you feel safe, comfortable, and respected in your encounters, or are they more interested in what they can gain from the relationship. There will likely be times when you are tempted to compromise on your boundaries based on circumstantial factors. In those moments, you want someone who will remind you of the boundaries you set and encourage you to stick to them, not someone who will be relieved and jump at the chance to finally get what they’ve been wanting. How someone responds to your smaller boundaries earlier on in the relationship is how they will respond to your bigger boundaries later on. If your partner pushes boundaries early on or complains about what you are or are not comfortable with, that is not likely to end (in fact, is likely to get worse) throughout the relationship. 

Of course people can and do change, but we do not marry a potential person who only exists in the future. We marry a human being who has a present character. We marry someone not for who they could possibly become in the future, but for who they currently are, seeking to grow together in marriage.*** 

  1. Who do they let influence them?

Individuals do not grow on their own. To quote Corey Matthews, “People change people. No matter what I teach you here, learning from the people you care about is more important than the words on any page.” If you want to be challenged to grow as a person, you want someone who is seeking to grow and learn from others as well. The people we surround ourselves with dictate our trajectory. That may be an encouraging thought if you like the people they surround themselves with, if you want them to become more like those people, or it might be kind of alarming. Maybe their friends are into some unhealthy, risky behavior that you can’t really get behind. Maybe the people they look up to and admire treat others poorly or use people to get ahead. The image of who they want to be is, in some ways, just as important as who they currently are. 

We all are influenced and changing whether we realize it or not, so it is better to be mindful of that impact and seek out positive influences. This requires some humility and an understanding that we all still have so much to learn and room to grow. Does your partner see other people in this way, as beings who have something to teach them? 

  1. How are they working on themselves?

Everyone has flaws, but it is essential to recognize those flaws and seek to improve on them. You first want to assess if this person has the humility to acknowledge their own imperfections and weaknesses. Do they have the self-awareness to see what they have to work on and then also the meekness to work toward improvement? 

If you spy major flaws in them, these are not signs to ignore. Angry outbursts, boundary pushing, and disregard for others are likely only to get worse if they are not properly addressed. Marriage does not solve character flaws or magically make problems go away. Issues of infidelity, lack of self-control, use of pornography in dating will follow into marriage if not dealt with. That principle applies to both you and your significant other. 

I want to conclude this post with a few disclaimers. I am not a marriage expert, nor have I ever been in a position to marry someone. These are principles and issues I have heard discussed by many friends, mentors, role models, experts, and virtual resources discussing marriage throughout my adult life. The questions are not a comprehensive list or guide, but certainly a launching point when considering marrying another person. 

I also don’t want to give the impression that someone has to be perfect or have their whole lives figured out before they wed. No one is ever going to be perfect, and preparing for marriage isn’t about becoming perfect. In fact, marriage will show you lots of ways in which you are not perfect. With any level of intimacy or commitment, there is risk and uncertainty, but in marriage, you and your partner are agreeing to take on that risk and enter into that unknown together. 

I asked a friend of mine who is getting married in a few months how to know if you’re ready to get married, and, in an essence, she said: you don’t know. There are no real certainties in life and there is no set path to travel. Sometimes we think of life as a hallway with a series of doors that we walk through and we have to figure out which are the correct doors for us, but life tends to be more like a sandbox. We play, we create, we tear down, and marriage is saying “I want you sitting in the same corner of the sandbox with me.” 

Talk to some older adults in your life who have been married and see what you can learn. Reading about these ideas is one thing, but talking them out is another thing entirely. Tell HRT what you learn! We’d love to share more wisdom with you!

These resources were consulted in the drafting of this blog. Learn more about getting ready for marriage and dating here:

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