Originally posted on Bustle
How do you know if you’re ready to get engaged? While marriage isn’t the be- all-end-all of relationships anymore, for some people, it is still a really big deal. “Commitment is key, not what it is called,” Rhonda Milrad, the founder and chief relationship advisor of relationship advice app, Relationup tells Bustle. “As we see from marriage statistics, being legally married doesn’t guarantee that the couple is dedicated to one another and able to weather storms.” But if you’re in a long-term relationship and your friends and cousins are starting to get married, there’s a good chance you’re feeling the pressure — from society and from your family.
Not only should you not get engaged or married to satisfy anybody else, but it’s important that you don’t do it before you’re ready, too. At a certain age, when you’ve been with someone a while, getting engaged can feel like the default. But it shouldn’t. Because if you get engaged before you’re ready, you’re just going to deal with the consequences of that later down the line. Whether marriage just isn’t for you or you don’t have the trust necessary for a long-term commitment yet, there are a lot of things that can get in the way of a healthy engagement. Here’s how you know if you’re ready to get engaged:
1. You Know The Things You Don’t Like About Your Partner
Nobody is perfect, but you do need to figure out if you can really deal with your partner’s imperfections. “Everyone has an inner voice,” Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. “Follow it. Pay attention to the immediate feelings you have when you think of the person. Next, realistically name the three things about the person that bother you, and expect that those will remain. If the feelings are there and you can live with those three bothersome traits, that is a good sign.”
If you can’t think of a single thing wrong with your partner, then you’re probably kidding yourself — and you’re probably not ready to get engaged.
2. You Like Who You Are When You’re With Them
That corny line about “being the best you” when you’re with your partner is actually true. “It’s really not about them, as it is about you,” life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. “It’s all about what kind of person you are, become, and feel like when you’re in their presence. Love should bring forth confidence and security.” If you like who that person makes you — and feel like you can be your authentic, embarrassing, silly self, you’ve checked a big box.
3. You’ve Gone Over Dealbreakers
“To determine if someone is a match for a long-term commitment, it is essential to have common ideals,” psi counselor Laurel Clark tells Bustle. “Although people want a fiery spark, those hot flames burn out after a while, so it’s also essential to feel comfortable with your partner, to be friends, to enjoy his or her company.”
It’s not enough just to get along with your partner. Go through your ideals, values, life plans and make sure that they’re all compatible before you even think about taking the next step.
4. You Both Really, Genuinely Want To Get Married
Marriage is on the decline, according to data from the National Survey of Family Growth and millennials just don’t see it as much of a necessity. That’s totally cool. But if one of you wants to get married and the other is just doing it for them, that can lead to resentment. Make sure you’re both actually on board with marriage — and clear about it what it means for both of you — before you get engaged.
5. You’re Grateful For Each Other
It’s not just about not taking each other for granted, it turns out being grateful — and showing gratitude — may be the key to a happy marriage. According to research in the journal Personal Relationships that looked at 468 married people, showing gratitude was a strong indicator of marriage quality. So you’re going to want to make sure you know how to do that before you take the next step.
6. Your Trust And Communication Game Is On Point
Communication and trust are the foundations of a relationship, so if you’re struggling with those then you need to pump the breaks before making a long-term commitment. “Since a relationship is about becoming vulnerable, trust can be a huge trigger,” Dawn Maslar, a.k.a. “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle and it can also bring out a really hurt, angry side of us. If you don’t have that figured out beforehand, it can erode your relationship down the line.
7. Your Timing Is Right
It’s not just about the timing in your relationship (though that’s important, obviously) but you need to think about the timing in your life as well. If you want a short engagement and a big wedding, are you in a place to pay for it or is it going to stress you out? Do you have the time and finances for the marriage you want? There’s no shame in waiting until it fits into your life.
Getting engaged doesn’t have to be the default in a long-term relationship like it once was. If marriage for you and your partner, just make sure you’re ready before getting engaged. There’s nothing wrong with putting it off for a while so you can be sure. Weddings will always be there.