Ask a therapist
When are you ready for marriage?
Every Friday, we open our Instagram to the Ours community and let couples submit questions to our team of couples therapists. We pick the most interesting ones and write our thoughts here. This week’s question is: “How do you know when you’re ready for marriage?”
It’s a great question — one that reflects much consideration for making such an enormous life choice. Marriage today has evolved from traditional norms to encompass a spectrum of dynamics, commitments, and shared aspirations. It’s not merely about being in love with the right person, but about readiness on multiple levels. And, while there’s no magic formula for knowing when it’s time to say “I do,” there are some key considerations to help you navigate the maze of emotions and decisions that come with considering marriage with your partner. Some of these are more obvious and remain fluid throughout the course of your relationship, while other considerations might not be as relevant in the current lifecycle of where your relationship is presently. Eventually, you will experience all of them, as every relationship consistently ebbs and flows through the uncertainties that life brings.
Fluid considerations: ongoing aspects
Communication and compatibility: The quality of communication remains pivotal to the success of a thriving relationship. It’s not just about being able to talk; it’s about understanding each other and evolving together through open, respectful dialogue. You might not be in agreement on every topic, and it’s up to you to decide where you want to be fundamentally aligned, and where it’s OK to not be aligned.
Shared values and goals: Aligning fundamental values and individual and relational aspirations is an ongoing journey. As we grow and change, reassessing how and if we are in alignment becomes an essential ritual.
Conflict resolution: The ability to resolve conflicts constructively is a lifelong skill. It’s about adapting and refining your approach to navigate disagreements in an evolving relationship.
Continuous growth: Personal growth doesn’t stop when you decide to get married. The commitment to personal development and supporting each other’s growth is a crucial aspect of a thriving marriage — as well as showing acceptance for growth happening between partners at different rates.
Flexibility and adaptability: Life throws curveballs, and being adaptable as a couple remains important. Flexibility in roles, expectations, and plans is a cornerstone of a resilient relationship.
When do you feel most understood by me?
Less obvious yet critical considerations: relationship lifecycles
Intimacy: Intimacy isn’t static. It ebbs and flows. Understanding that it may change over time and finding ways to navigate these shifts is a lesser-discussed aspect due to the vulnerability of the topic. Navigating your own feelings around sex with honesty and authenticity can help bring ease and empowerment into having these conversations with you partner.
Shifts in priorities: Priorities evolve with time. What matters most may change — career, family, personal growth — being aware of these shifts and and how they impact us individually as well as relationally is essential.
Navigating external influences: External factors like societal expectations, career demands, or family dynamics might impact the relationship differently across phases. Being aware of these influences helps in managing and making a decision that works for your relationship together.
Future planning and flexibility: Long-term plans may change. Being open to reevaluating and reshaping goals and dreams as circumstances change is vital.
Supporting individual identities: Balancing individual identities within a partnership requires ongoing effort. Encouraging personal growth while nurturing the relationship for where it’s at in it’s currently lifecycle is a delicate but crucial balance.
Check out our card decks for more questions you can ask your partner.
Ultimately, navigating the decision to get married involves both the more obvious considerations and the nuanced, evolving aspects that characterize different relationship lifecycles. It doesn’t mean that all of these considerations need to be resolved for how you will manage them or even well thought out. Just recognizing the interplay between these many dimensions helps in making a thoughtful decision about taking that significant step forward in your journey together.
Premarital counseling can help, too
Explore the idea of marriage and prepare for your forever with premarital counseling on Ours.