If you really think about it, marriage is a strange concept. Without any knowledge (or, at best, limited knowledge) of what the future holds, you’re supposed to pick one person who’ll travel well with you on the unknown journey of life until its very end. Heavy! And yet, here in America at least, we tend to bury this significance in flowers and seating arrangements—so it feels like you’re deciding with whom to throw a party rather than with whom to join until death do you part. Rather than debating a beach wedding or a sophisticated affair, the real question to ask yourself is whether you’re actually ready to make such a life-altering decision. Here, 11 signs you’re good to go.
You don't question where you stand with your significant other. The two of you speak easily about the future, and you never feel like you have to censor such conversations so as not to scare him or her off.
He or she is the first person you go to with any news, big or small. In fact, some of the things you call your significant other about are so insignificant they wouldn't warrant a phone call to anyone else.
You don't have your partner on a leash, or vice versa. You trust each other, and not in a lip-service kind of way. For example, if your partner goes on a trip with friends, you may worry about his safety but not his behavior. You know he isn't going to disrespect you or your relationship, no matter how stupid his actions may otherwise be.
The exact number doesn't really matter—if neither of you know what it's like to have children, you don't know how you'll feel about them once you do—but it definitely does matter that you both want to have them (or don't).
In other words, when you think about marrying him or her, you are actually thinking about the marriage and not just the wedding. If all you're fantasizing about is the attention, the white dress, the party and so on, you might not be in it for the right reasons.
Or, at the very least, you're at your most authentic. In other words, your close friends wouldn't describe you as behaving differently around your significant other than you do around them, or having changed since your relationship began. (The caveat here is that if you had unhealthy friendships in the past and your partner has steered you away from them, that is a good thing. If your besties suddenly think you're a different person within the relationship, however, that's not so good.)
You have no desire to change your partner, at least not in major ways. You can't change whether someone is extroverted or introverted, for example, or whether they prefer to party or stay in. Whether they value family or don't. Whether they're religious or not. You can change their habit of throwing socks on the floor, but even that can be tough. So ask yourself: Do you love your partner 100% as is?
It's one thing to believe in your partner's potential, but it's another thing to bank on it. If you have a plan to help your partner evolve into the person you think they can be, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. If you're going to marry someone, you need to understand that who they are is going to change many times over the course of the relationship—they'll have different jobs, different moods, different health situations. It's dangerous to marry someone if you're tying yourself only to the most ideal version of that person.
Is it societal pressure? Your Instagram feed? Or a deep soul connection? Do you want to get married generally, or can you not imagine your life without this person specifically? Again, are you thinking about the wedding or the marriage? All of these are important and sometimes difficult questions to ask yourself. Everyone knows someone who got married for the wrong reasons, and it usually doesn't take long for the relationship to fall apart. Be honest with yourself—being alone can be scary, especially past a certain age, but divorce is intensely painful. You're not saving yourself any heartache by making a fear-based decision.
Even during really bad fights, you don't think, This could be the end. When breaking up has basically ceased to be an option, you know you're ready to officially commit, because that's what marriage should be—a relationship in which all troubles must be worked through instead of abandoned.
As Bella DePaulo puts it in her book Singled Out, "The way coupling is envisioned in contemporary American society is not universal, it is not timeless and it is not human nature. Instead, the reigning American worldview may well represent one of the narrowest construals of intimacy ever imagined. Where once the tendrils of love and affection reached out to family, friends and community, reached back to ancestors, and reached up to the heavens, now they surround and squeeze just one other person—sometimes to the point of asphyxiation. It is not wise to relegate all the other important kinds of people—close friends, valued colleagues, mentors and kin—to the dustbin of human relationships. Ironically, it is also unfair to the one relationship partner who is mythologized. No mere mortal should be expected to fulfill every need, wish, whim and dream of another human." We couldn't have said it better. Healthy people have a village around them—it's not realistic to expect your partner to be everything to you.
We all learn how to deal with conflict from our early familial relationships, and sometimes these are bad lessons that are tough to unlearn. (Here are a few quick and effective tips for keeping conflict clean.) You probably already know whether you and your partner have mastered the art or not. If you can't figure it out, seek therapy, as bad fights only get worse with time.