Marriage is a serious matter. Be sure you’re ready for such a big commitment.
By Amy Schoen — Last updated on Jul 13, 2023
Photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock
For those of you who think you want to get married, do you have a realistic picture of what it is all about?
Do you see yourself in wedded bliss, waking up together, having a romantic day at the beach, laughing together, and enjoying a sunset dinner and a midnight walk along the water? That is possible.
But do you also see yourself arguing about who does the dishes that have piled up in the sink, unexpected expenses, or the need to be left alone after a stressful day at work? These disagreements are also part of marriage. Are you prepared for the ups and downs that marriage offers?
Here are 8 ways to tell if you’re really ready for marriage:
1. What are your reasons for wanting to get married?
There are many reasons for wanting to find a marriage partner: the companionship of a spouse and wanting a family (a spouse and children) are the top two reasons, according to my research. One of my girlfriends was divorced, 40 years old, and had a young child.
All of her friends were married, and she was the only single parent in her social group. Fortunately, she did end up marrying after meeting her second husband on the Internet.
2. What would marriage give you that you don’t already have or force you to give up?
List your pros and cons of marriage. The major issues that come up are about the loss of freedom in marriage. You have to account for the other person in all your decisions. There seem to be more family obligations when you are married.
This can take up a lot of your time but being single can take a lot of time too. One of my clients wants to find a wife so he can focus more of his energies on his business. He figures he spends at least 16 hours a week searching for “the one.”
On the other hand, wanting a spouse to support you through life’s ups and downs is a big motivation for marriage. Having a steady companion for meals and leisure time also seems to be high on the list “for” marriage. It is up to you to weigh the pros and the cons and to figure out if the scales tip toward or away from marriage.
3. How do you view marriage? What’s your opinion of marriage?
Do you have positive thoughts about marriage or a negative view of marriage? My friend Jessie — early forties, single and never married — has parents that are divorced. She claims that she knows very few happy marriages.
The view that “most marriages end in divorce” surely impacts her readiness for marriage. One of my ex-boyfriends once referred to me as “his ball and chain” to one of his friends. He has never married and is now in his late 40s. Don’t you think this perspective on marriage may have prevented him from taking marriage seriously?
4. What are your top priorities in your life?
List your top priorities in life. If finding a marriage partner or making the most of your current relationship is one of the top two, then you are probably ready for marriage. Another client had a good job that was relatively stable and a good social life of friends.
The only thing missing in his life was a marriage partner. He really wanted to settle down and have a family and was tired of singles events. This became his top priority in his life, and he did end up meeting his wife at a dinner at a local synagogue.
5. Are you willing to make the compromises to be a “we” instead of a “me?”
Once you find the person you believe to be “the one,” are you willing to sacrifice in order to make the relationship work?
I have friends who met at a singles’ weekend. He was from Washington, DC and she was from Boston. The woman ended up moving to DC and found a new job in order to make the relationship work. On the other hand, I had a male friend in New York, engaged to a woman in Boston. Neither was willing to move, so, needless to say, the marriage never happened.
6. Are you emotionally available for and ready to commit to a relationship?
Have you healed from your past divorce or most recent breakup?
Do you have commitments such as your children, an aging parent, or the financial strain of changing careers? One of my clients did not feel comfortable dating until her last child moved out of the house when she left for college. Are you truly open to dating and a serious relationship that can lead to marriage?
7. How will you know when you are ready for marriage?
Trust in yourself that you will know when you are ready for marriage. “When you find that someone special, you just know,” says Stanley, a man in his early forties who just got married. “There is a synergy and a flow!” If you find someone who shares your values and your life goals, you will just click with the other person. I have witnessed this time and time again with both my clients and my friends.
Some people just know that they want to be married, but for others, it takes the right person to come along. Oscar, a man in his mid-thirties, told me, “I never thought about marriage until I met my wife. I just knew she was the right marriage partner for me.”
One thing I’ve noticed is that those who are ready for marriage are tired of the dating merry-go-round and want some kind of stability in their life. They desire to spend their energy building a relationship and want to get beyond the “they’ll do for now” mindset.
8. Are you willing to go public with your desire to find a marriage partner or to be married?
Marriage is not a dirty word. I went to a singles’ event with my Motivated to Marry (TM) questionnaire and asked several people, “Do you want to take a quiz to see if you are Motivated to Marry (TM)?” They looked at me like deer caught in the headlights. I figured they were afraid to let others know that they were really looking to settle down. Or perhaps they were surprised to be talking to a married woman at a singles event, yet dating is my business.
I tell my clients to be very upfront about their intentions to find a partner for marriage. “Won’t I scare the guy away?” is a question I am often asked. My answer is, “If he is scared to talk about marriage, then let him be scared away. The right person will stick around because he is interested in the same thing you are.”
One of my male clients from DC met a woman online in New York. She told my client that she just wanted to be friends. He told her that he has plenty of friends and that he is looking for a marriage partner. This man is clearly ready for a marriage and is willing to stick to his goal. I commend him for his focus and determination.
So, you are the only person who can say if you are ready for marriage. It takes giving yourself a very honest assessment. If you ask yourself the questions listed above, you will get closer to answering the question, “Am I really ready for marriage?”
More for You:
Zodiac Signs That Are Terrible At Relationships (And Why)20 Little Things Women Do That Guys *Secretly* LoveThe Perfect Age To Get Married, According To Science5 Little Ways Men Wish They Could Be Loved — Every Single Day
Amy Schoen is a national expert in dating and relationship coaching who is passionate about helping marriage-minded singles find their true love and create fulfilling, life-long relationships.