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?
This is going to sound a little weird, coming from the people who plan weddings… but don’t rush with the wedding. Soul-search until you 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
Let’s be real. We’re not saying, ohmigod, 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. If you want a lifetime warranty, get a Vitamix instead.
“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 – that you don’t need to keep looking. Below we suggest some questions to help you think through this.
“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
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 – even if sometimes you have a bad day, become ill, or just need something?
2. Do you trust them?
Okay, ‘trust’ is a loaded word. Let’s say it differently. Do you think that they will avoid intentionally hurting you?
What’s their track record looking like? Have they ever hurt you? Was it inadvertent? Did they do what they could to undo the damage and never repeat this mistake?
Life is complicated, and people have quirks, but it is not unreasonable to expect that you can count on your spouse to keep you safe from hurt and harm.
3. What’s the one thing that you really need in your life? Can your spouse give it to you?
We’re not talking about food and sleep. You obviously need more than one thing in your life. But maybe there will be something that keeps bubbling up. Something relatively enduring. Something you’ve been searching for all along. A theme in your life, if you will.
If you can be a little insecure, it may be encouragement. If you easily get 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 for you. 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’ll keep coming home to this person every day, and home’s a great place to find what you really need. You should be getting that one most important thing from your spouse.
4. Key values, money and other non-negotiables
Do you fundamentally agree on important things? For example, earning money, spending money, spending free time, children, parents, religion, politics?
A lot of people argue about money. Who should make it, how much, how it gets spent. But what’s fundamental to financial compatibility is this: are you both responsible with money? Marriage is an economic institution, and your spouse’s ability to earn and keep money will affect your own financial viability. “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.”
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.
Is there anything else that is very important, even non-negotiable, for each of you? You don’t always have to agree, but if you foresee a potential future conflict…
5. What about conflicts and arguments?
You will argue. Even the most compatible people argue sometimes.
And that’s okay. Some arguments are inevitable and even necessary.
Maybe your boundaries were inadvertently violated, maybe you suspect that your partner is starting to take you for granted, maybe there is a fundamental misunderstanding that is upsetting one of you. Maybe one of you is just annoyed and – although everyone knows it’s not right – they can’t help but take it out on the partner.
The aggrieved partner rightly speaks up.
What’s important is what happens next.
Does everybody have an opportunity to present their perspective? Do all grievances and opinions get the attention and respect that they deserve? 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 for constructive reasons (ie, take some time to think)?
In an argument, each partner should keep in mind that they respect and think the world of each other. Each partner should strive to keep the other partner contented. If that’s the case, an argument can lead to a new understanding and a breakthrough. It can facilitate a well-thought-out decision.
Arguments are no place for manipulation, stonewalling, insults, and other things that can irreparably damage a relationship. Not everyone knows how to argue constructively and respectfully – but everyone can find ways to learn.
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 act appropriately for an occasion? How are they with children? How do they play competitive games? Do they find something funny that’s a little weird? These may be small things, but you don’t want to be looking back and thinking about how you should have paid more attention to them earlier.
7. 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. Qualities like these make them human, and they are here to stay. In fact, you will be seeing more of them as time goes by and you get more comfortable with each other.
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. They put greater premium on 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 you love?
8. 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?
9. How do you handle difficult situations as a couple?
We’re not talking arguments or disagreements.We’re talking disappointment about a long-planned vacation, loss of a job, a death in the family. Will you be trying to support each other and protecting each other’s well-being until the crisis passes? Do you both bounce back reasonably quickly?
Every difficult situation is a bit of a test and an opportunity to reveal one’s true character. Looking back, you probably learned more about your beloved in a couple days of a crisis than in your first year of dating,
10. Do you each have the wisdom to treat each other respectfully?
“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
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.
If you’re still not sure, consider going on a long trip together. It doesn’t have to be a trip, but the idea is to put both of you, together, in 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, in some ways both of you can pretend. All pretense falls off in real-life situations.
We’d love to hear from you! How did you know that your beloved was the ONE?