How Do You Know If Marriage Is For You?

Originally posted on Brides

Marriage isn’t for everyone. For one thing, some people just want to be single—they have no interest in existing as a pair. And that’s great. But even some people who are in happy relationships shouldn’t necessarily be running to the altar. Getting married is a massive commitment—and it’s not just commitment to one person for the rest of your life, you’re also committing to spending a lot of time and a lot of money organizing a wedding, if you want to go the traditional route. Plus there’s the ‘til death do us part’ bit, which really shouldn’t be taken lightly.

But how do you know? A lot of women are on the fence about whether they want to tie the knot—and often much to their surprise. We grew up thinking that marriage was the only route available but, as we get to the age by which we thought we’d be married with children, many of us are unsure about what path that we want to take. And that’s OK. Modern relationships and modern marriage aren’t one-size-fits all, which is undoubtedly a good thing. We can make a life plan that actually works for us, rather just following one laid out by someone else. But that means finding out what we really want. So here’s how you can tell if marriage is right for you, because it’s a too big of a decision to just be a default.

The Tradition And Rituals Mean A Lot To You

For some, the tradition is important. In fact, there are many different aspects of the traditionthat can be important to you. One of my friends wasn’t interested in marriage, but her father was a minister and she felt it was important to do it for him and her family. Another felt like she wanted to signify and recognize their relationship in front of the world in a way that it has been signified for centuries—but some people don’t want to align themselves with what was once a sexist institution. It’s totally your call. Tradition isn’t important to everyone—and that’s fine—but for some people, it’s a powerful thing.

You Think That It Will Change Your Relationship

When I asked my friend what getting married meant to her, she didn’t even have to think before she responded. “It made us more of a team,” she said. “Not that we weren’t before, but now it really feels like we’re in each other’s corner.” For her—and for many—marriage felt like cementing something. It changed their relationship, not necessarily making it better, but just making it…more. People who have attached that kind of significance to marriage should probably get married if they meet the right person, because it will signify a commitment they don’t feel like they have otherwise.

But not everyone attaches that significance to being married—and that’s OK, too. If you can’t see how things will change, well… then maybe they won’t. Maybe for you marriage doesn’t have that meaning.

The Practicalities Will Make Your Life Better

There’s a distinctly unromantic side to marriage that can be very important—whether it’s for taxes, for visas, for children, or just for health insurance, sometimes doing that paperwork can come with a whole lot of perks. As long as you both understand that that’s the driving force, marriage can be huge relief from some of life’s stressful practicalities.

Stability Makes You Feel Safe, Not Trapped

Stability can evoke very different reactions in people. For some, it makes them feel safe, secure, like they’re finally able to relax and be themselves. But for others, too much stability and commitment can be totally panic-inducing. I know friends who have been with their partners 10 years, plan on being with them forever, but still get a bit jumpy at the idea of marriage. For others, it feels like finally coming home. Be honest with yourself about how this huge kind of commitment makes you feel.

It Feels Right With This Person

Look, some people never come around to the idea of getting married until they meet the right person. They don’t care about tradition, they don’t see the point, they don’t want the hassle of it—but then they meet someone and suddenly say, “Yes, let’s do this.” That’s OK. Even if you’ve spent your whole life being against marriage, you’re allowed to change your mind. (And if you always thought you wanted to get married and suddenly realize you don’t want to spend the money and the energy to go through it, that’s cool too.) We change as we grow—and sometimes the people we meet can make the right decision more obvious to us.

Even if you’re ready to commit to one person, you don’t necessarily have to do that in a white dress and a whole lot of paperwork. Commitment can look different ways to different people. Marriage is the right option for some—a natural conclusion of where they’ve been headed. But for others, it may not be the right fit. Give yourself a chance to decide.