Marriage is an exciting step in most people's lives, and with it comes both great joy and great responsibility. There are ten questions every couple should ask themselves before getting married to determine whether or not they are really ready to take this step.
1. Why do you want to get married? Some may want to get married for financial security or to avoid loneliness, due to an unexpected pregnancy, or to start a family. Others may choose to get married simply because they love one another. Neither financial nor emotional security is a good reason for marriage, and love alone will not keep a marriage alive for decade after decade.
2. Is your partner trustworthy? Are you? A strong marriage requires a great deal of trust from both parties. Partners must be able to trust one another with the finances, to help with the chores, to parent cooperatively (if children are involved), and – of course – not to cheat. If either partner has a history of violating the trust of the other or even breaking the trust of a former partner, it could lay a foundation for future trust issues in the marriage.
3. Is the past in the past … and have you both learned from it? Past relationships, past mistakes, and even childhood grief and family traumas can haunt people into their adulthood. If these issues are not properly faced and appropriately dealt with, they could emerge at a later date and create disharmony in the marriage.
4. Are you planning a wedding or a marriage? Women in particular, but men too, often become so preoccupied with planning the wedding they may forget that a marriage comes after the wedding and lasts (ideally) far longer. A couple can work towards the wedding they want, but it is important that they not forget the marriage they need.
5. Are you feeling social pressure to get married or settle down? Parents and grandparents may pressure a young couple to settle down, and as their friends and siblings all begin to pair off and get engaged or married, it can seem like the natural next step for them, too. Societal pressure, however, is never a good reason to get engaged or married.
6. Do you share similar goals for your lives? Common wisdom tells couples that "opposites attract," but science shows that compatible couples have more staying power. A couple need not share all the same interests, but if they share common goals for their lives and have similar ideals, they have a better chance of making it long-term than couples who have less in common.
7. How do you handle conflict? Fighting fairly is a critical component of happy couples. If a couple is unable to fight without name-calling, sarcasm, or bitter accusations, they probably should not discuss marriage just yet.
8. Are your finances in order? It is not a romantic question, but it is an important one. Money, or the lack of money, can be a cause of conflict in even the happiest marriages. Having not just similar financial goals and beliefs but also having their finances in order can keep a couple on the right track when it comes to their relationship. Pay off any debt and start saving before sliding those rings on.
9. Is your education on track, or better yet, completed? Again, this may not be a romantic question, but once a couple is married, it can be very difficult to complete an educational goal, particularly if it is simply a high school diploma or an undergraduate degree. It can take a great deal of dedication from both parties in order for one to graduate. If both are not fully committed to the goal, then the marriage should be delayed until the couples' educations are completed.
10. Do you like, as well as love, one another? Not just love. Like. It is "like" that gets a couple through the hard days, and it is the friendship that keeps a couple together long-term. It is the love that stokes the fires of passion and keeps the sexual energy high. A marriage can not survive happily long term without both "like" and "love" burning brightly.