There are very few decisions in life that are as important as whether or not you get married and to whom you marry. I’m sure so many of you have asked yourself the question, should I get married?
The thing is that we all grow up and are led to believe that it’s all fairy tales and grand romantic gestures so we should know it’s right when it’s right….right?! Unfortunately it’s just not that simple. I am going to lay out for you 6 questions you should consider when you ask yourself: Should I get married?
1) Are you in your mid-twenties?
It seems that there is this mantra that is running rapid in popular culture that you need to get your life together before getting married. Like marriage is only acceptable after you have your education, figured out your finances, climbed Mt. Everest and solved a Rubik’s cube…you get the picture.
In reality, there is a sweet spot when it comes to getting married. Research shows the highest risk of divorce in in your teens. After you hit your twenties, your risk starts to decline with 25 being a pretty prime age to marry. However contrary to the “common sense” advice offered up by society, when you hit age 32 your risk of divorce starts to increase again. This is not to say that if you are over the age of 32 your outcome is bleak, it’s just a general trend…don’t kill the messenger. You can read more on this research here.
The idea is that it’s a balance. It is good to have some things figured out, but you don’t need to have it all together before you get married. There is something really special and powerful about growing together, before you’re too cemented in your ways, and building a life together as a couple.
2) Have you dated for 18-24 months?
I want to start by saying that there are always exceptions to the rule; however research has consistently shown that the most happily married couples date for an average of 18-24 months before getting married. Again there seems to be a sort of sweet spot here too, if you don’t date long enough you may be rushing in too fast without really knowing your future spouse. If you wait too long, maybe there’s something going on that has given you pause long or maybe the relationship has been on and off which doesn’t bode well for marriage.
So the lesson here is date long enough to know one another and develop a deep intimacy, but if you’ve just dated a really long time and you’ve reached a place of “we’ve dated forever, I guess we should get married” then take a deeper look. Do you have other issues going on in the relationship that have led to putting marriage off for so long?
Dr. Ted Houston is a great resource on courtship length and marital happiness and you can read a summary of some of his findings here.
3) Are you marrying for relationship reasons or event reasons?
When you are deciding whether or not to get married, consider the motivation underlying the decision. Are you contemplating marriage because you have a deep and loving relationship and are certain about your desire to marry or is it a marriage of convenience…like rent would be cheaper with two? Or maybe you’re already living together and it seems like the logical next step. Marriages that are entered into because of relational motivations are more successful than those entered into for reasons due to outside motivators/pressures, events or conveniences.
4) Are you blinded by love or confused by your status?
How you pace a new relationship is so important. If your relationship was a love-at-first-sight scenario that’s great, but did the relationship pace follow suit? If your relationship development was accelerated and you rushed into commitment, rushed into bed, rushed into dependence and rushed into investing your trust then chances are you may also rush into divorce.
It’s so critical to pace a relationship in a safe way, especially when feelings of love and attraction are running high. If you’re relationship has been rushed, you may want to slow it down and make sure you two really know one another before moving forward. Remember that there is no substitute for time in a relationship; true intimacy can’t be manufactured over night.
On the flip side, there are relationships that just live in limbo, in this ambiguous zone. Nothing is truly defined, yet you’re hanging out a lot and probably, from an outside perspective, it looks like a relationship. This type of relationship can feel vulnerable and uncertain. It’s a confusing type of relationship to be in, but these relationships can go on a long time and get to the place where marriage is a real consideration. So if you’re relationship has been lukewarm and characterized by uncertainty or even volatility then you should reconsider whether marriage is the right move.
5) Have you been mad at each other?
In our course for singles, we always joke that you should get someone mad on the first date (check out our course here). In reality that probably would be a really short first date, but it’s so important to see your partner upset. If you’re in a relationship where you brag, “oh we never argue” (we all know someone like that) then PLEASE pick a fight before you walk down the aisle. You have to know how your partner acts and treats you when they are angry because, I guarantee, you will not lead an argument-free marriage.
6) Have you asked tough questions?
This is a big one and seemingly obvious, yet so many people enter into marriage without really knowing one another. So, have you gotten to know your partner’s family background? Have you met the parents? Do you both want kids? You should probably be on the same page there. Have you discussed spending habits? What do you both imagine you’ll do together/alone when married? How compatible are you? Do you have the same beliefs? Faith?
Seriously I could go on all day and I wrote a post about the most important areas to get to know about a partner here, but please do your due diligence when it comes to choosing your spouse. Take your time. Really get to know them. Ask tough questions. Be curious about who they are, where they come from and where they hope to go.
Thanks for reading and if you want to read more about what to get to know about a partner check out this post! Or if you are looking for some helpful resources, like questions to ask about a partner’s family background just sign up for our Free relationship resource library!