Marriage is one of the most important decisions in anyone’s life, so it should be deeply felt decision. It should feel inevitable. It’s the union of two lives, after all. So you can’t simply check your watch and announce ‘it’s time. ― Debbie Macomber
Being in love and full of hopes for the future is the best thing in the world! Is there any way we could make it last forever?
We know. This is going to sound a little weird, coming from the people who are helping couples plan weddings… but don’t rush with the wedding. Take time out. Do soul-searching. Feel that it’s the right decision for both of you.
You’ve known your other half for a respectable amount of time. You positively enjoy each other’s company. Maybe you’ve lived together, maybe you haven’t. Maybe it’s a little complicated, and you still have a few things to agree on. Or maybe everything between you seems wonderful, and you expect it to be so forever. Maybe it’s the time in your life when you are ready to settle down.
Should you keep things as they are? Or should you take a leap of faith and propose? Alternatively, should you accept a proposal? Is your partner the ONE? It can sound like an easy question. Do you love them? Yes. Do they love you? Yes. High-five!
Are we done here? Maaaybe not.
“When I tell you not to marry without love, I do not advise you to marry for love alone: there are many, many other things to be considered. Keep both heart and hand in your own possession, till you see good reason to part with them.” ― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
We’re not advising you to over-complicate matters, either. True, how could you possibly know what circumstances your little family could get into in the future, and whether your beloved will continue to love you and be right for you? Each person is immensely complicated, if not unknowable. Each person changes, gets weighed down by the disappointments of life. People grow apart.
“There are no guarantees. For fear, none are sufficient. For love, none are required.” Emmanuel Teney.
Just focus on whether your partner is the right person for you right now.
“But how did you know that it was Stacy?” – “There wasn’t a green light flashing, that’s for sure,” he said. “Mostly, I felt that I didn’t need to look any further.” –
“But how can you be sure?” I persisted. “You can’t. There’s not just one person in the world who’s your type. There’s a whole group with the same likes and dislikes. But you want to spend your whole life looking for all of them? You just feel that everything’s right. You’re at peace with yourself.”
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Now I’ll Tell You Everything
And it’ll help to think through these 10 questions.
Is your partner the ONE? 10 questions to ask yourself.
1. Does your partner make you happy?
It’s a simple question. What was your first thought? What do your friends say – do they see you happy together?
Of course your relationship has ups and downs, but do you have a feeling of calm, supportive environment where you can be happy – whether you may fail, become ill, or just need something?
2. Think about the one thing that you need in your life, and whether your spouse can give it to you.
We’re not talking about things like having a friend to talk to, going to restaurants together, and cuddling up at night. You obviously need more than one thing in your life. But one thing will bubble up. Something relatively enduring. Paramount. Something that’s been a concern of yours since you were little.
If you are insecure, it may be unconditional support and belief in you. If you are frazzled, it may be calm. If you are young and ambitious, it may be wise guidance. If you are afraid, it may be someone who will take responsibility. If you have family on your mind, it may be someone who will care for your children. Or maybe it is just someone who will travel the world with you.
No one person can give you everything – people aren’t perfect – but you should be getting that one most important thing from your spouse.
3. Do you trust them?
Okay, ‘trust’ is a loaded word. Let’s say it differently. Are you confident that they will avoid doing something that would hurt you – as long as, of course, they know how you feel about the issue?
What does the past tell us about the future? Has your partner ever hurt you? Was it inadvertent? What did they do? Did they feel bad and never do it again?
Life is complicated, and people have quirks, but it is not unreasonable to expect that your beloved will not intentionally hurt you or make you unhappy.
4. Think of the qualities of your partner that annoy or upset you the most. Can you live with them?
Your partner is a mere human. These qualities make them human, and they are here to stay. In fact, you will be seeing more of them as time goes by.
Even between the happiest couples, there’s something like that. The trick is to have a positive way of thinking about it.
Let’s say you get annoyed that your partner does not get around to doing something, instead just spends their time relaxing. Can you learn to appreciate their ability to relax in stressful circumstances, so they can also help you relax? Is it something that you could live with, day in and day out, because there are other things about this man or this woman that matter more?
5. Social circles and family
Is your partner well-liked by his own circle, as well as by your family and friends? Of course, most people don’t know your beloved as well as you do, but – especially if a bit of a negative consensus is forming – it should give you a pause.
How do your families mesh? While dating, most people are too focused on the interactions with their partner alone, and don’t think much about in-laws. Yet your partner’s relatives will be a lifelong ingredient in the recipe of your married life. If there are serious negatives, don’t ignore them. You may spend the rest of your life trying to navigate a minefield and getting over disappointments, with your partner trying to defend his family. Is your future partner truly worth it?
6. Personality and red flags
Is there something about their temperament that – if you really think about it – raises a bit of a red flag? Think explosive and disproportionate anger (whether directed at you or anything else) or an addictive streak in their personality? Do they often lose control and do something like drink significantly more than would be appropriate for an occasion? How do they play competitive games? What do they find funny that’s a little weird? These things may be little, but you don’t want to be looking back and thinking about how you should have paid more attention to them earlier.
7. Key values, money and other non-negotiables
Do you fundamentally disagree on something important? For example, do you have compatible ideas about having children and caring for children? What about caring for parents? Spending free time? How do both of you feel about religion? About politics?
Are they responsible with money? Will your prospective spouse be able to make a living? Is he or she conscientious with money? Marriage is an economic institution, and your spouse’s ability to earn money will affect your own financial viability. Look for a hard worker, a person with strong work ethic. “Imagine what two people would be able to accomplish if both were filled with the same drive. But if one has to be carried all the time, that’s hard.”
Is there anything else that is very important, even non-negotiable, for each of you? You don’t always have to agree, but you should have an idea of potential future conflict, and have a sense that they can be overcome.
Just start off with the same goals in mind. If you have the same values, same goals then you’ll be on track for the same future. Angelina Jolie.
8. Think of the difficult situations the two of you have been through, and what it tells you about how difficult situations would be handled going forward.
We’re not talking arguments or disagreements.We’re talking things like loss of a job, or a death in the family. Do you feel that your partner will be by your side, supporting you until the crisis passes? How about the reverse? How easily do both of you bounce back?
How serious was the crisis? How did each of you react? What have you learned about your partner and the way you interact? Do you have an idea how your partner would react to a crisis in the future, and can you handle it on your side?
9. What about conflicts and arguments?
What causes you to argue? Some arguments are avoidable, some are based on fundamental incompatibilities, others are caused by third parties, and sometimes it’s just a habit and a way to re-set the relationship.
Arguments are not necessarily bad. They can lead to a new understanding and a breakthrough. They can facilitate a well-thought-out decision. But here’s what’s important: how does each partner behave in an argument? Does everybody have an opportunity to present their perspective? Do all opinions get the attention and respect that they deserve?
Are you both looking for a compromise that keeps both people somewhat happy? Compromising is important, although of course no one should be asking you to compromise over matters of principle, and the burden of compromising should be shared.
Can both of you rely on your sense of humor to make light of the situation and give each other space? If you stop talking for a while, is that so you can think about it and come up with a possible constructive solution?
Alternatively, if one or both of you closes the channels of communication, or behaves in other ways that are difficult for the other person to navigate, can one or both of you learn to approach conflicts more constructively? There are plenty of ways to do that.
10. Do you have the wisdom to treat them right?
“If you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. In short, it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person”. Zig Ziglar
If you’re still not sure, consider going on a long trip together. Or something else – it doesn’t have to be a trip, but the idea is to put both of you, together, in a somewhat uncomfortable, challenging or unusual circumstances. These situations will show you how the person deals with pressure, with loss, with his team, and with success. If you are just talking about things, in some ways you can pretend. All pretense falls off in real-life situations.
Of course, these 10 questions are just the start. “Is he or she the ONE?” will be the question you’ll be asking yourself if you have children, if you get a great job offer overseas, if your partner gets a great job offer overseas, if your mother gets sick and needs lots of your help. Life will present itself to you, and you will be left wondering whether this person is the right one to take it on. So you might as well start thinking about it now.
We’d love to hear from you! How did you know that your beloved was the ONE?