No matter how long you’ve been together, there’s a huge difference between being in a relationship with a guy and actually marrying him. Even if you’re desperate to fulfill your Pinterest-inspired wedding dreams, don’t dare walk down the aisle unless you’ve done these things.
You’ve addressed and worked on any problems in the relationship. Do his spending habits drive you crazy? Are you guys still fighting over the time that he didn’t defend you in front of his family? Going into your marriage with too many conflicts on your plate is kind of like paying full price for a car that only runs for 10 miles and being surprised when you’re stranded in the middle of a busy intersection. Every couple has problems, but are you still sitting on feelings of resentment from forever ago? If so, that should be a major red flag.
You have your act together as an individual. When people ask me why I’m not married yet despite being with my boyfriend for seven years, I tell them it’s because I’m wildly unstable. I don’t want to legally hitch my life to someone else’s when I know that I’ve got some nuttiness to work out and some growing to do. I’m a believer in the idea that most people should see a therapist. After all, if you’re going to get a checkup for your body, why not do the same for your brain? Consider it a service to yourself, your partner, and the world around you by taking that big step and addressing any issues that have been rattling around in your brain.
You have a backup plan in place. Your soon-to-be hubby is supposed to make your life better, not be the foundation for your life. If your marriage were to take a nosedive, you want to be able to get out of there with everything that you came in with or earned throughout. That goes for friends too, you’ll need someone to binge-watch shows with if it ends, and it can add to your heartbreak if your only friends were actually your ex’s.
You’re settled on where you’re going to live. Although I’m not married yet, it’s not ideal to rush into it if you can’t decide on where you guys are going to live now and in the future. Do your career ambitions have you moving across the country over overseas in the next few years? Does your partner mind leaving their hometown and family behind and starting over with you?
You’ve really thought about whether or not you WANT to be married. Here’s my thing: I’ve dreamed of the fairytale for a while now and I’ve always pictured it as something that I’ll do at some point in my life. However, I’m not going to rush it. Some people get married because they feel it’s the next logical step, they’re facing pressure from their family and friends, or one partner urgently wants to tie the knot and the other is appeasing them. If you’ve got a good thing going and you’re still on the fence, it might be best to hold off.
You’ve discussed the possibility of having a family and when. Do you plan on having kids right away or at all? Legislation regarding our reproductive rights may change. If you want to hold off, it’s best to do your research and find the birth control that works best for your body and your wallet. And ladies, he absolutely should be splitting the cost of your birth control if you don’t have health insurance.
You’ve figured out your long-term compatibility. Everyone is different and I’m sure that there are plenty of people that hold off on moving until they’ve got a ring on their finger, but I feel like you need to know whether or not you’ll want to keep your partner around for a while by living with them first. Leases can be broken but divorces are hella expensive.
You’re smart enough not to get into debt over an expensive wedding. Don’t go into your marriage broke. It’s an unpopular opinion to have a cheap/ low-cost wedding but I think that $20,000 spent on a ceremony could’ve been better spent on a down payment on a new home or putting a decent sized dent in your student loan payments.
You have short-term and long-term plans as a couple. It doesn’t matter how far in advance you plan, but it’s good to know that the two of you are on the same page and moving at the same pace with your ideas for the future. If you can’t agree here then you should meditate on whether or not it’s time to get married.
You know the difference between long-term love and a rush of feelings. A lot of people look for “The One” and assume that they’re always going to make you feel incredible. In a long-term relationship, especially while life is happening, you might not feel anything sometimes. The important thing is that you know in your heart and your head that you love them, and you know that loving someone is a conscious choice.
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