Just because you pay your rent every month doesn't mean you're ready for that next big step. Now, we've all got our weird quirks, but marriage is an adult decision requiring a mature mindset. Here, the top eight questions to ask yourself before you start looking at wedding dresses.
1. Can you be alone?
Yes, this is an odd thing to ask when questioning whether or not you are ready to get married. However, it's important to make sure that you can stand on your own two feet—and not on top of your partner's. Maintaining your own social life is a healthy way to give each other space. Plus, there may be times when you have to be apart—work, family, school, vacation. If you're attached at the hip, then you won't be prepared for these moments.
2. Are you an emotionally responsive person?
Reflect on how you speak to other people—not just your partner. It's important for other people to know that you can react without apathy or with judgment. Being dismissive will only lead to an off-kilter relationship where your partner won't trust you enough to share their problems. "The key to keeping a couple together is emotional responsiveness. If you know you're going to get a soothing response to your issue—that relationship is golden. Fortunately, this is a skill we can all get better at," says Travis W. Atkinson, certified emotionally focused couples therapist & supervisor. Marriage and Family Therapist Andrea Cornell also adds: "If you can't tell the person the things you are thinking about even if you're sad or difficult, that's a problem. You then have to hold all those feelings to yourself. You have to be able to be yourself around this person—with all your doubt and insecurities."
3. Do you have a good relationship with money?
We're not saying you have to be a billionaire or only date wealthy human beings—but you need to be able to have a rational conversation about your budget. It's absolutely acceptable to want to feel secure, but financial stability can go away at any moment. It's more about how you personally handle your finances rather than how much you have.
4. Are you compulsive?
There is a dress in the window and you just have to have it right this moment. Like now. Of course, we all want everything that is going to make us look and feel good. However, there needs to be a moment of perspective where you ask if this is something you need. Most of the time the answer is no. We are acting out of urgency and not deduction. Make sure to evaluate this if the potential to get engaged is high—think … don't just react.
5. Do you care too much about what other people think?
"Our friends' and families' opinions about whether we should marry are mostly sincere and well-intentioned. But their opinions are inevitably based on their own experiences which may be good, bad, or some combination of the two," explains marriage couples counseling and life coach Andre Moore. Whether they come from a good place or not, you need to be able to make decisions for yourself—as well as filter out opinions that don't keep your personal well being in mind.
6. Are you a fair negotiator?
Things change. People change. It's safe to assume that the person you were at 19 is not the same person you are at 29. (A lot more bills!) Relationships should be treated the same way. "It's also important to view marriage like a small business that changes through the life cycle as we grow older. And like all small businesses, a lot of planning and negotiating are required," says Moore. How good are you at democratically getting what you want through compromise? Or is everything all about you?
7. Are you happy with your career?
You don't have to be—that's not what we're getting at. Sometimes when we're really focused on one part of our lives, we become blind to the other parts—and it's incredibly hard to maintain a relationship when that target becomes your whole world. If that promotion or new job is a lot right now, maybe take a step back from the romance and get all your ducks in a row. But do ask yourself if this is something you can work with in your relationship: "People always feel as if they have to figure out something in their life before they take the next step. There should be a conversation about working together, saving money, and making responsible choices as a couple," says Cornell.
8. Do you mask your problems?
We all dye our hair after a breakup. We all post on social media about how great our lives are when we're really at home eating ice cream and binge-watching Gossip Girl. The problem comes when these habits become consistent and you refuse to deal with the actual issue at hand. "People sometimes think if they get married they will be happier; as if it will be the solution to their relationship problems. Really, that is a distraction. Those problems will just switch to different shapes and colors and you'll be reach for the next to make you happy … and then the next thing … and the next thing. Nothing is being solved," explains Cornell.