How do you know when you’re ready to get married? What are some things to consider before deciding to tie the know with your partner?
Getting married is a big decision, and since half of marriages end in divorce, many people don’t approach it with the seriousness it warrants. Before deciding to marry, you and your partner should be clear and upfront about your expectations to avoid surprises down the road.
Here’s how to navigate deciding to marry, according to dating coach Logan Ury.
How to Navigate Deciding to Marry
How can you ensure that you actively choose to get married? Ury recommends that you critically examine your needs and wants prior to getting married. Humans are subject to a consensus bias: We assume that other people want and believe in the same things we do. But this bias is dangerous. It can lead us to marry people without discussing important topics because we assume they agree with us—then later end up being unpleasantly surprised. For example, you might assume that your partner wants to stay home after you have kids, only to learn that they want you to stay home instead.
(Shortform note: You might be tempted to marry your partner without discussing important topics not because you assume that they agree with you, but because you fear that they don’t—and you worry this discussion will end the relationship. For example, if you want kids but suspect your partner doesn’t, you might get married without discussing children, hoping that she’ll change her mind. To make these discussions easier, practice mindfulness, which studies suggest reduces fear. When you start to feel anxious, take note of these feelings, inhale deeply to center yourself, and try to observe your reactions instead of resisting them.)
Before deciding to marry, Ury recommends sharing both your history and your expectations with your partner. Once you’ve determined that your partner is someone who can support you and improve your life long-term, sit down with your partner to discuss three important topics.
Dedicate one night to learning about each other’s history, like how your parents dealt with serious topics or important childhood events. Dedicate a second night to discussing how you are now: Talk about how you could improve the relationship and open up about your current financial situation. Finally, dedicate a third night to discussing your future expectations, like your long-term career goals and how you want to raise your children. Ury explains that it’s OK if your expectations don’t exactly align, as long as you can talk through and have a plan for dealing with them.
|Talk About Your History and Your Expectations With Other People|
Many relationship experts agree with Ury both on the necessity of pre-marital conversations and the specific topics you should discuss with your partner. However, some argue that you should also talk through these issues with other people.
Try speaking with a happily married couple to gain advice that you might use both now and in the future, like how to improve your relationship. Speak with lawyers, who can help you assess your current financial situation and how marriage might affect it. Finally, consider speaking with a premarital counselor, who will help you navigate conversations about future expectations, like career goals and how to raise your children. They may also help you dismantle potentially damaging patterns you’ve learned in childhood via specific traumas or your parents’ bad habits so that you can communicate better.
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Here's what you'll find in our full How to Not Die Alone summary:
- A science-backed approach for finding the true love you’ve always wanted
- How your patterns may be sabotaging your quest for true love
- How to effectively navigate the twists and turns of a relationship