You have met the person you see yourself marrying.
You picture how wonderful life would be by their side, sharing each important milestone together. They are your perfect match and there is nobody else you would rather be with.
But how soon is too soon to ‘tie the knot’?
The honest truth is: there really is no telling when the right time is. However, there are a few practical indicators that surpass the romantic side of it. You know, the things that really matter along with the love part?
Lets run through a few of the major marriage ‘makers’ or ‘breakers’ I have found to be important and see how many you and your partner have covered successfully. And what I mean by successfully is you both have come to an understanding and know what to do if ever a situation arose (either for the first time or again) concerning these topics.
Below are a few of the most important marriage ‘makers’ or ‘breakers’ I have found in today’s marriage schemes:
1. Where do you see yourself(ves) in five years?
Have you ever asked that question to your date or have had that asked to you? It can seem like the date is not a date but a job interview and it can make your black sequin dress seem a little too showy. You start wondering if you should have worn something a little more business casual (haha, I made a joke. I bet you grinned.).
But there is a good side to it: that means they’re interested and want to see how serious it can get between you two. If it’s the first date and they asked you, it doesn’t mean they’re creepy and they’re looking to propose. It just means they see potential in you.
Just like at job interviews, there is a reason this question gets asked on a date: it is for them to have a clear idea if you are the right person for them by comparing and contrasting their likes/dislikes, hobbies, places they want to travel to; their dreams; their employment status… with your own. It also can give a window into the phase after the honeymoon phase of marriage. They want to know when the honeymoon phase ends, what is left between you two? There has to exist some commonalities between you two matter what.
Let’s take ‘getting to know them’ a bit further. And I don’t mean going through their phone, which-let’s face it- gives off a wrong impression about both of you. Let’s not do that.
Where was I? Oh yes!
To decide more thoroughly on whom they are as a person, try observing them. Take a closer look at your partner’s habits. What I mean is observe their cooking habits, their diet habits; their hygiene habits; cleaning habits, their spending habits (you get the picture)…and then ask yourself honestly: do their habits bug you or not at all?
What about their current relationships? How do they relate to others? For example: How is their relationship with their family; their friends? Is it amicable or hostile? Are they a good son/brother/friend/coworker? How do they act toward strangers especially the less fortunate? How do they address someone in the service industry like their server? Their attitudes toward others can be the framework of how their attitude will be toward you and yours in the future.
This is probably the most overlooked because in the beginning, both parties are ‘lovey dovey’ and just want to be together. They spend each minute together and they’re loving it. But when it all fades, those little idiosyncrasies that might have bugged you about them in the beginning can get in the way of having a long-term, happy marriage.
Which leads me to my next, very important mention:
2. Communication is key.
Just like every other successful relationship, a marriage thrives on good communication. So, put the passive-aggressive attitude aside and make way into being assertive and upfront. Just don’t be rude, or blame the other person for everything, even if it might be their fault a little. Keep the yelling to a minimal too, if you can. Nobody likes to be yelled at. Raising your voice makes the other person listen less. You know the feeling: when someone yells at you, you spend more time trying to tune out their words than listen to them. In other words, if you have a problem with each other, talk about it in a diplomatic and civilized manner. If you lose your temper and fight, calm down first, apologize and talk about that too. It’s all about being empathetic to the other person feelings and they will reciprocate that. In time, there will be less shouting and more talking.
3. Don’t use ‘I’ or ‘you’, unless it involves using the restroom.
This is about the communication piece too because it is so important. The way you communicate can be just as impactful.
When you are committed to each other, there should be less ‘you did this’ and ‘I did that’ especially in times of disagreement. Let’s face it, spilling out accusations can leave the other person defensive which makes them attack back and then there is an endless stream of accusations. Sound familiar? By approaching problems by including ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ like: ‘we should work on this‘; and ‘we are better off not saying this to each other‘, it can feel more like teamwork. It gives them the impression that no matter what, you both are in this together, even at times when you could literally rip each other’s eyes out. (caution: that is just an expression, not an invitation. Be safe and mindful, guys).
No matter what, try to take deep breaths. If you cannot talk rationally without being hurtful, tell your partner you need a few minutes and ask them to do the same, if necessary. You guys can continue the conversation at a later time. Just not too much later…
Above all, don’t say anything you do not mean. It can leave scars as deep as real wounds. That can cause long-term resentment, especially if it is not addressed and dealt with in a timely manner.
4. Be clear on finances and monetary responsibilities.
This is a big one too. You do not want to be in the dark or leave your partner clueless on how you both are with finances. Before making a big decision like marriage, first make sure both of you sit down and discuss pending debts, extra incomes, retirement plans and investments (both current ones and future ones, if known). Also, be clear if you will split the bills or one will be in charge of them.
It is not very romantic but it can also lead to other proactive conversations like being able to afford a child’s needs and wants (if you both are wanting kids or have kids already). It’s worth discussing. All of this can become very important in the long run, but it is easily overlooked in the beginning.
Speaking of kids, this leads me to my next point…
5. To parent or not to parent? That is the question.
In this day and age many households are not as traditional as they were a few decades back. There’s nothing wrong with that! Everyone has the right to their own happiness and wellbeing! Some women and men might feel they are better off not reproducing, so they either decide to adopt Human babies, fur babies, both or none of the above.
The pressure is off once they make a decision on what is best for their preferred lifestyle and ultimately, their happiness.
Whether they really want to have a family or not and discussing it honestly and openly with their partners is another story. Most people might feel obligated to go in the direction of what their partner wants, so they-to put it frankly- don’t lose them. However, lack of honesty to oneself, let alone one’s partner can result in major relationship blocks in the long run. Yes, honesty might cost you your relationship, but if you both are not in any position to compromise nor do you want to, the best thing might not be what you thought it was initially (a.k.a. being in a relationship together). All in all, you and your partner’s happiness is crucial to keeping the relationship going strong.
6. In sickness and in health.
Your love can be tested when and if one of you gets sick. I don’t mean ‘getting a cold’ sick. I mean ‘you can’t walk and move for days because your immunity is compromised in some major way’ sick.
This can put a lot of pressure on both partners because one feels helpless and the other, in most cases, can become overwhelmed with the added responsibility. This falls into compassion, patience and the unconditional love piece.
Having health insurance and a steady source of income can help ease the pressure a lot, but being selfless, caring and giving when your partner needs you the most is immeasurable. This is the in sickness and in health the priest is talking about.
Family and friends can really help too when they are there for you, so make sure you understand the importance of reaching out to loved ones. Just thought I’d thought I’d mention that too. Nobody expects you to be a super hero. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Planning in that way or at least knowing your limits can help you plan ahead on what to expect and whom to ask if you ever do need any help. Regardless, just make sure the methods you plan to use are reliable.
Practicing empathy and compassion with your partner is very important but so is your attitude. Your attitude and the way you treat each other goes a long way. This can really help when things get rough, Heaven forbid. But just remember, attitude and good beside manner go hand in hand.
Alright, now for a final and less morbid piece:
7. Teamwork is key
This is no secret and it was mentioned before but it is worth mentioning again. Learn to work together!
Unfortunately, this is one thing that is usually not found out until a couple is living together under the same roof. With a little time after you have both settled in, the routine starts: there will be chores and there will be the dividing of spaces.
Here comes the tricky part: communication!
If you in any way feel that your partner’s lax behavior or complete lack of participation aggravates you but you shrug it off anyways because you can handle it on your own, you have another thing coming. There is a big chance that that initial, tiny aggravating feeling will turn into something more nagging, like resentment. Whether you are passive aggressive or straightforward with your feelings, communicating with your partner on what your expectations are in a humble way will go a long way! But remember, nobody is perfect! Keep the demands realistic! Show them what you are asking of them so they can meet your expectations. It might not be a success the first few times, but be patient with them and show them what it is you want. Eventually, they will thank you and you will thank you, too.