I was meeting with a long-time mentor of mine and I asked him a question I’d been wrestling with for years–
“How do you know if you’re ready to get married?”
His answer —
“You don’t know you’re ready to get married until you’re actually married.”
Well, thanks. That doesn’t help much.
Sure, he was right. Sort of.
Everything you think you know about marriage flies out the window once you’re actually married.
Yet, now that I’m married I do believe there are some signs you’re ready to get married. Or at least more ready than not.
And if the stats are right, there’s a lot of Millennials in particular that aren’t even sure marriage is for them. They would much rather have kids than get married.
1. Right when your favorite song comes on, your friend changes the radio station. And you don’t freak out!
That exact moment in some shape or form, happens about once a week in marriage. If you can take some deep breaths and sometimes let your song, your plans, your ideas go, you might be ready for marriage.
If you have to fight to have “your song” on all the time in marriage, you’re going to be fighting a lot.
2. The one thing you absolutely know is how much you don’t. And you can live and breathe in that space.
Marriage has a funny way of challenging everything you were absolutely sure you knew. If you need to be right all the time–then in marriage you’ll be absolutely wrong no matter how right you are (I might be speaking from ass-like experience here).
If you’re as flexible as a piece of wood, then marriage will smack you upside the head with it.
3. You can clean a toilet.
And mop floors. Buy groceries. Pay bills. Basically you’re becoming, you know, all groan up and stuff.
4. You’re ready for a crazy-ass adventure through the absolute depths and heights that life has to offer.
Picture the worst moment of your life.
Now picture the best.
Now picture someone standing right there next to you, holding your hand, trying to read your face.
In marriage you don’t visit someone at their worst moment. No, you live with them through it. (click to tweet that)
If that doesn’t freak you out too much, well saddle up partner to holy matrimony.
But the real beauty of it–you learn more about how to love someone and what love is not during the Instagram moments, but during those hard moments you don’t want anyone else to see.
That definitely can sum up the unexpected way I met my wife.
Honestly, having someone to share my life with, the good and the bad, is one of my favorite parts of marriage. It makes the bad a lot easier to get through and makes the good that much sweeter.
5. You’ve tackled some of the monsters hiding in your back closet.
Marriage will not solve any of your problems. Marriage will show you just how many problems you really have.
As another mentor shared with me when I was struggling to find “The One“ — “Don’t focus so much on finding the right person. Focus on becoming the right person for whomever you marry.”
The more skeletons you can face in your closet now, the more monsters you can tackle and then throw out the back door, the better off and more prepared you’ll be for marriage.
The more skeletons you try to sneak into marriage, the scarier marriage is going to feel for awhile.
6. You’re sick of sowing all those wild oats
If you’re throwing your oats out there like bird seed to pigeons, marriage might not be in the five year plan.
If you’re sick of sharing your oats with everyone to only get a bunch of pain and regret in return, and you’d rather have a nice, hot bowl of gluten-free oats at home, then marriage might be around the corner.
Or as All Groan Up reader Abby wrote in the comments section for the article 17 Signs You’re Actually…gasp…an adult:
When I just want a fun guy with a bitchin’ ride and awesome hair!” has been replaced with “I just want a nice guy with a good job, 401K and a plan for the future.”
7. You’re starting to define and live by your soul values
If you don’t know the core stuff that is most important to you that drives your decisions and actions, then how can you or your spouse trust your decisions.
As I first wrote in 15 Questions You Need to Ask When Dating:
Too many marriages start (and end) with vague and un-identified core values.”
8. You’re secure enough to talk about where you’re the most insecure.
We don’t connect through our pretend perfection. We connect through our shared struggles.
If your dead-set on living a life pretending you don’t have any problems, then marriage is going to be one giant one.
Your partner is going to know what you struggle with probably better than even you do.
Marriage is about complementing each other’s weaknesses. If you keep pretending you don’t have any, that’s going to be a weakness that’s really hard to work through.
9. You’re done believing love should be effortless and easy…
Falling in love is simple. We all fall face first into stuff.
Getting up and daily working for love is the hard part.
As I wrote in 3 Things Love is NOT —
Love is war. Not against one another, but for each other.
In a relationship, you have to fight against everything that is trying to keep you fighting.
Marriages don’t just explode, they slowly unravel.
Day by day, life and time and to-do’s and struggles and hurts and strains and bad habits left untouched create rifts that grow over time.
As I wrote in 5 Myths About Marriage:
Marriages don’t fall apart because of one big compromise. They fall apart due to a thousand small ones. Like a windshield crack, the longer you drive on without addressing the issue, the more shattered your relationship will become.
Sure no one is ever going to have it all figured out when they say “I Do.” I know I didn’t.
Yet, the more intentional you can be about having a healthy marriage before you’re actually married, the better off your marriage will be.