All the real signs you’re ready to get married

Weddings — and even marriage — aren’t for everyone (although they should be an option for anyone who wants one!). I have many friends who’ve been in happily committed relationships longer than most marriages, who have zero interest in actually getting married. But personally, I’ve loved weddings since I was a child—intensely. At age four, I fell and split my lip; as a reward for being a brave girl at the hospital, my parents took me to the toy store and let me pick out anything I wanted. I chose a child-size wedding gown. Suffice it to say I was not ready to become a wife then. But, a few decades later, I am totally game! My wedding is a few short months away, and I’ve gone through a lot of emotional growth since my days of child-size wedding dresses. That makes me a self-declared expert on the topic. Here are, in my personal opinion, the signs you’re ready to get married:

You love yourself. You don’t need the love of someone else to feel whole.

You’re looking for a partner, not a savior. As Judge Judy likes to say, “Be the hero of your own story.” You don’t need a man or woman to rescue you. Follow your own happiness, and find a teammate along the way.

You root for each other. His or her success is yours, too, and vice versa. You celebrate each others accomplishments.

You bring out the best in each other. And make each other want to be better.

You don’t mind sharing the spotlight. More bluntly, it’s not all about you anymore. You take your partner’s needs, dreams (even his or her schedule) into consideration when making dinner plans, or life plans. And when you think about your future, that person is in it.

When someone asks you what you’re looking for, you say “funny,” not “abs.” Or intelligent. Passionate about their dreams. Loves kids/dogs/his mother… You get it. Your “list” should be about who they are as a person, not what they look like on paper.

You’re cool not dating anybody else ever again. Whether you subscribe to the idea of “soulmates,” or prefer the concept of choosing your forever person, they’re it. No more Tinder. No more first dates. The buck stops with him or her.

If you’re in a relationship, you’ve talked about your life goals. Hopefully, yours are similar to your partner’s (at least on the biggies like children, finances and religion). And if they’re not similar, hopefully you’re supportive or open to compromise. For his or her sake, and for yours.

You’ve also talked about getting married. I’m all for surprise proposals that go viral. But the idea of committing yourself to another person for the rest of your life shouldn’t be a surprise, it should be something you’ve both thought about and discussed. We live in the real world, not a fairy tale.

You don’t want to change him/her. And he/she doesn’t want to change you.

You’ve been in a fight. And it didn’t get ugly. And you talked it through. And neither one of you was mean or manipulative. You survived, and grew because of it.

He/she has seen you in sweatpants you haven’t changed out of in three days, covered in a thin layer of Cheeto dust. Or maybe you wore that for your first date! That’s cool, too! Point is that you can be yourself in front of them, and you’re not afraid of them seeing or learning something about you.

You’re excited about being married. Because there’s a lot more to marriage than the wedding. Like, your entire lifetime together. Riddle yourself this: Would you still want to marry this person if you couldn’t have a Pinterest-worthy wedding? (Hint: Answer should be YES.)

You don’t even need to get married, as long as you get to spend your life with your person. A piece of paper isn’t going to make someone stay, and a legal document isn’t going to suddenly stabilize a relationship. If you’re getting married, you’re marrying the person you’re with now. If you wouldn’t change a thing and are looking forward to growing and building a life together, then marriage is just an option to formalize that happiness together.

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