You don’t have to discover all the things that make a marriage work by trial and error.
How do I know if I’m ready to marry?
- Do you love this other person so much that you are willing to lay down your life for him or her and are ready to put their happiness before your own?
- Are you marrying out of strength (I know who I am and am happy with myself) rather than weakness (I need someone to fill the gaps in my personality)?
- Have you had more than one serious love relationship so that you can tell the difference between love and infatuation?
- Have you lived independently (supporting yourself) for at least a year?
- Are you financially stable? This doesn’t mean you have to be rich and out of debt, but at least have a steady employment that is not a dead end job.
- Do most people consider you emotionally mature, able to compromise, share your feelings, and handle anger constructively?
- Are you able to keep commitments and delay gratification?
How do I know if this is the right person?
- Do you love this person with all your heart and no longer feel an urge to look further for happiness?
- Do you share similar basic values about respecting human life, fidelity, what’s right and wrong, honesty, life goals, lifestyle?
- Are you physically attracted to this person?
- Can you imagine growing old together?
Is it necessary to feel “chemistry” between us for this to be the right person to marry?
Chemistry is good and necessary for a fulfilling marriage but it is not sufficient. Unfortunately chemistry is sometimes confused with infatuation, which can be fleeting.
In the good sense, chemistry means you feel a strong physical attraction to the other and want to continually become closer. You feel happy in his or her presence and want to smile.
Infatuation means you are consumed with thinking of the other person to the point of doing silly or risky actions to be together. You are blind to the faults of the other and consumed with being noticed by him or her. Your need to be liked is so strong that you are willing to give up your own personality or morals for the other’s affection. Often infatuation is an unequal relationship between the object of adulation and the infatuated person.
What begins as a crush or infatuation, however, can develop into love if the feelings are mutual and the partners see each other as equals. The test is time.
Doesn’t living together before marriage prevent me from marrying the wrong person and thus getting divorced later on?
Although it may sound counterintuitive, studies show that cohabiting couples:
- Increase their risk of breaking up after marriage (46% higher divorce rate)
- Increase the risk of domestic violence for women, and the risk of physical and sexual abuse for children
- Have lower the levels of happiness and wellbeing compared to married couples
Why should I attend a marriage preparation program? We’ve known each other for a long time and can’t imagine we’d learn anything new.
You don’t have to discover all the things that make a marriage work by trial and error. Others have done some of that work for you. You also get a glimpse into other couple’s marriages so you can have a more realistic sense of what’s normal and is not.
Although every marriage relationship is unique, there are many tips experienced couples can share that will help you when you face bumps in your own marriage. Marriage preparation programs don’t give answers, they give you an opportunity to talk with each other about the wide spectrum of “must have conversations” before marriage. You’ve probably talked about most of them, but you may have avoided a few. This is a time to check yourselves. Most likely you will find that you gain confidence in your decision to marry as a result of attending a marriage preparation program. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.