How Do You Know You're Ready to Get Married?
How do you know when you’re ready to get married?
Dear Almost There,
Many variables come into play when you’re trying to discern if you’re ready to get married. While we can’t give you an exhaustive check-off list, there are some definite questions that should be well thought through and thoroughly considered by you both before you take the big step to get engaged. After all, next to your decision to follow Jesus, this will be the most important decision you’ll make in life.
Assuming you’re already crazy in love, you’ll know you’re ready to get married when…
You’ve spent at least four seasons together:
You've spent at least four seasons together (at the very least one year) getting to know each other and seeing each other in a variety of life situations so you can adequately assess whether your partner is a good match or not.
You are compatible in personality:
You have a shared sense of humor, similar likes/dislikes, similar drive and ambition, high levels of agreeableness, etc.
You share core values:
You have a shared faith in Christ, a similar level of spiritual maturity, and a compatible life-calling/mission/goals.
- Men: You are ready, willing and able to love her as Christ loved the church, unconditionally and sacrificially.
- Women: You are ready, willing, and able to respect him unconditionally and sacrificially.
Your character is mature:
You are honest, trustworthy, dependable, teachable, kind, have integrity; you have a strong work ethic; you are able to delay gratification.
You are emotionally mature:
You are not prone to anger or outbursts, not jealous or insecure, not prone to defensiveness or withdrawing/stonewalling. You are able to put your partner’s dreams and preferences ahead of your own. You are able to ask for and extend forgiveness. You are able to handle disappointment well. You are able to adequately separate from your parents and not be overly reliant on them for emotional support.
You are financially stable:
You are able to support yourselves independent of your parents from the time you marry. You don’t have a large amount of debt, or that debt has been disclosed, and you have a plan in place to pay it off. You are ready to be financially responsible for the other person.
You have chemistry:
While physical and sexual attraction is not a foundation on which to build a lifelong marriage, without it there is little laughter, joy or delight. You would be more like roommates. So if you’ve been dating each other for a while and are thinking about marriage, but you don’t have a problem keeping physical boundaries, you might have a concern. You should be fighting with all your might to keep your physical intimacy in check; there should definitely be a strong sexual desire for each other.
What does your gut tell you?
While it’s normal to feel a small level of doubt and uncertainty about your decision, if you feel a real check in your spirit, don’t move forward. You may just need more time for your relationship to develop or you may need to call it off. Either way, if you have a large number of family and friends cautioning you, yet you still think you hear God telling you to move forward with engagement, you better check your hearing very carefully.
Bottom line: Ask yourself the following question:
If my partner/relationship stayed the same over the next 60 years – never getting better or worse than it is today – can I live with that and be happy? Is that the kind of atmosphere in which I want to raise my children?
If after going through this list you both sense that you are indeed ready to move forward with engagement, your next step should be to arrange for premarital counseling. Click here for advice on how to choose a good premarital counselor.
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their youngest blessing, Caroline.