Deciding on whom you want to spend the rest of your life with is one of the most important decisions you will make throughout your entire life!
Feel the pressure?
You should, because it’s something that deserves a lot of thought and preparation. So how do you know if your man is marriage material or not? Here are a few tips that will hopefully be helpful.
1. Are you marriage material? This might come as a surprise, but here are a few questions to ask yourself…
a. Are you ready to be in a committed relationship for the rest of your life? Speaking from personal experience, when you get married you realize just how selfish you are.
You’re thoughts and behaviors no longer affect just you, but your partner. Your marriage now takes precedence.
b. Who are you and what do you want in a marriage? It’s important to know yourself, your values, beliefs, wants and desires as opposed to allowing a man to define them for you.
It’s okay if the relationship enhances these or even challenges them, but if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know what path to take to get there?
c. If you don’t know the answers to these questions that’s okay, it’s all part of the journey! But seek guidance in discovering the answers.
Educate yourself on what a healthy dating relationship/marriage looks like. There are a whole plethora of books and resources out there that can help give you insight.
Seek out a friend or a couple who you feel exemplifies a healthy relationship and ask them how they do it? What has been helpful for them and what has been hard for them?
Find a counselor whom you will feel safe with discussing your fears and desires. It’s really hard to see through our own “dirt” at times, counselors are helpful in seeing roadblocks and making connections.
2. What you date is what you get. Dating is a preview of what the marriage is going to look like. Overall, you should enjoy dating your partner.
Your relationship should encourage you and make you a better person, not the opposite. And if the majority of the relationship is causing you more negative stress than positive stress something needs to change.
Walking down the aisle doesn’t magically change anyone or anything.
3. Get to know him. It’s human nature to initially be attracted to the outside, but it’s important to get past the exterior. Dating someone over time allows you to experience the inside, most importantly his character.
After all, his character is what you will eventually end up being married to.
4. Does he take action? Words are wonderful, but it can’t stop there. Does his actions line up with what he is saying?
If his actions aren’t following through while you’re dating he’s not going to follow through in the marriage. It takes two to be married and you need to know the man that you’re marrying is reliable and dependable.
A more basic question, “Does he call when he says he’s going to call”? Saying I love you is only half of it. Does his actions show that he loves you”?
5. Don’t get kidnapped. When you are falling in love it is so hard not to want to spend all of your time with that person. It can become so exciting and you find yourself addicted fast.
But it is so important to enter each other’s worlds. Hang out with friends, spend time with each other’s families, experience activities and each other’s passions. In other words it’s important to not lose sight of who you are while entering a relationship.
6. Is he investing and taking care of you? Is he actively being a part of your life? Do you feel valued, adored, treated with respect? You should feel all of these things and at the end of the day you should know that your biggest fan is cheering you on through the finish line.
7. One word: Honesty. Can you and your partner be honest about everything? You need to feel completely safe and be honest about the following: your goals, painful experiences, desires, fears, insecurities, and when you feel hurt by your loved one or are not happy.
If you find your partner lying to you that’s a character issue and it needs to be addressed. If you find yourself feeling unsafe that too needs to be addressed.
But keeping secrets causes shame and lays the first brick to the wall you just started to build between you and your partner.
8. Does he take care of himself? If he doesn’t take care of himself how on earth can he take care of someone else? Is your partner functioning in society? Is he able to hold a job, pay his bills, establish and maintain healthy relationships? Is he smart with his finances?
Overall, is he able to make healthy choices for himself? And when he does struggle does he actively seek ways to improve himself or the situation?
9. Communicate. You need to talk about your views on finances, children, family and other factors that you feel are important. Don’t make the mistake of “let’s cross that bridge when we get there.”
Address any topic that you know will be an issue because when you get married there will be plenty of “surprises” that pop up on their own.
I remember before my husband and I got married we addressed the topic of having children. Growing up, his mother stayed home and raised the children.
Therefore my husband automatically assumed that I would stay home too. However, it was the opposite in my family. My mother worked, so it felt natural for me to envision myself working.
These were things that we had to talk through and learn to compromise about.
10. Be realistic. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when you will encounter tough times with your partner, both while dating and in marriage.
We were not made to make it through this world alone. We need help. Don’t be ashamed to seek out professional help, especially a counselor.
I always encourage couples to go pre-marital counseling but what I really encourage them to do is to go to counseling before they get engaged. Neither one of you in the relationship is perfect.
You have strengths and weaknesses and you need to learn to communicate effectively and love each other through difficult times. Counseling should be viewed as preventative and not a last resort.
When you and your partner find yourself “stuck” that’s an indicator that you need some help.
Dating my husband was absolutely one of the most memorable experiences of my life, but we had to work hard for it…very hard. Be patient, don’t settle, and remember it’s your journey.
Don’t compare. I’m pleased to say that with all of our hard work my marriage has proven to be just as memorable.
About the author
Professionally, I have been working as a mental health counselor in the Nashville area since 2004. It was during that time that I fell in love with helping others through difficult times in their lives.
With eight years behind me I have gained a broad scope of experience working with children, adolescents, families, and adults. In 2010 I began my own private practice in Franklin, TN where I work as a marriage and family therapist.
Personally, I love relationships and consider it an honor from those who allow me to walk beside them in areas where they are hurting. Counseling is an incredible opportunity to love others for who they are and where they are in life.
Outside of counseling I enjoy life with my husband (married in 2008) and being an Aunt to 9 nieces and nephews.
Katherine Crouse MMFT
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