Family Law

How Do I Know If I'm Ready for Marriage?

By Amy Castillo, J.D., University of Minnesota School of Law
If you're wondering whether you're ready to marry, read through this list of factors and get a sense for whether you're on the right path.

If you’re recently engaged, you’re probably preoccupied with fantasies of how your wedding day will look. But before you go too far with daydreams about your big day, it’s a good idea to think about the main purpose of a wedding—namely, a public declaration of permanent, legal commitment—and whether you’re truly ready to be someone’s spouse.

You and your partner have history together.

You and your soon-to-be spouse are familiar with each other’s irritating habits and annoying quirks, and you love each other in spite of them. You’ve fully disclosed your financial histories to each other, and where there’s something problematic to overcome, like a bad credit history, you’re committed to helping each other. You also know all about each other’s medical histories and medical problems, like a history of addiction or a degenerative disease, and these haven’t scared either of you off.

You’re not just thinking about the wedding—you’re marrying for the right reasons.

It’s tempting to focus solely on the wedding. After all, it’s probably the biggest party you’ll ever plan. But you’re not only daydreaming about the wedding and reception. You’re thinking about what it will mean to be married to your partner, how much you love your partner, and what your life together is going to be like.

When it comes to the important things, you and your partner are on the same page.

Before you even became engaged, you and your partner discussed the big outcomes of marriage—combined finances, sex, and starting a family. You share the same values and hopes, and you have a common vision for your marriage—you will or won’t have children within a certain period of time, you will or won’t buy a house together, and you share a common outlook on sex and love.

You’re not letting someone else push you into marriage.

A lot of times, well-meaning people will try to urge long-term couples into “taking the plunge.” Others will tease couples about why marriage is frightening. If you’re laughing along with these people without taking them too seriously, it shows that you’re in the right frame of mind for marriage.

Your life with your partner is an open book.

You and your partner don’t keep major secrets from each other. Not only do you know each other’s flaws and problems, you try to help each other with them. Keeping secrets is emotionally toxic because one of the main benefits of marriage is that you are committed to a person who you can entrust with everything about you, good or bad.

You and your partner share a common outlook on child-rearing.

By the time you marry, you and your spouse should be on the same page in terms of whether and when you want children, and how you want to raise them. Indeed, if one or both of you is already coming into the marriage with children from another relationship, you should each be fully committed to those children and to giving them a quality upbringing and integrating them into your family.

You’ve faced some tough times together.

You and your partner have been together long enough that you’ve faced hard times together. Maybe one of you has lost a job, or maybe one of you has lost a loved one. These situations are difficult to navigate, but as you do so together, they’re opportunities for your relationship to grow stronger and for the two of you to become more comfortable relying on each other.

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