Photo: Leo Patrone Photography
Being ready for marriage is about way more than simply loving someone. "It's about accepting them for who they really are and not who you want them to be," says Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For a Lasting Marriage. "It's about being willing to commit to addressing your own stuff and growing up." And here, in seven experts signs, is what that really looks like.
1. Your partner doesn't complete you.
You've heard this math equation before, we're sure: In a healthy relationship, one plus one shouldn't equal one — it should still equals two. When you're ready to tie the knot, "you are comfortable in your own skin and aren't looking for someone else to complete you, rescue you, or fill any emotional holes," says Doares. "You have to be able to stand up for yourself and your needs. And if you need another person to feel whole, you won't be able to do that and the marriage won't be in balance. It gives too much power to your spouse, even if they don't know they have it."
2. Your feet are toasty warm.
When you're about to enter a marriage, your feet shouldn't be cold, believes Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach. Instead, they should be toasty warm — a.k.a., confident. Being ready for marriage, she says, often comes with a healthy and appropriate sense that you're making a huge, life-changing decision. "But when you are not ready for marriage," Coleman says, "you will have nagging doubts, a fear that you may be making a mistake, or thoughts of calling off the wedding."
3. You can set boundaries.
Just as your partner can't be your everything, he or she can't be your every plan and every priority, says Doares. "While saying yes to your partner as often as possible makes for a good marriage, there are times you will need to say no," she says. "You need to be able to do this without guilt, anger, or fear of rejection. Taking care of yourself in any relationship, but especially a marriage, is critical for its success. If it's not supportive of your core values and needs, it won't work."
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4. You aren't daydreaming about someone else.
We're not talking about your obsession with Justin Timberlake. Rather, says Coleman, when you're ready for marriage, you don't think about what life would be like with someone else, whether an ex or a man or woman you haven't yet met. "You don't ever find yourself checking out attractive guys and thinking about what it would be like to date them," she describes. "You simply couldn't imagine finding anyone better for you."
5. You aren't afraid of conflict.
No matter how perfectly matched you may be, "no two people are going to agree about everything," warns Doares. But despite what many people believe, she says, disagreeing is not the same as having conflict. "If you confuse the two, you are going to make your marriage much more challenging," Doares says. "Keeping things at a level of difference of opinion or simple disagreement will make life, and the search for a mutually acceptable solution, a lot easier."
6. It isn't about convenience.
If you're ready for marriage, you can't wait to take the next step with your partner — and not because it will make life easier in any way. "It's not about convenience, finances, or finding security," says Coleman. "It's about sharing your life with your best friend and trusted partner, and growing together. You think about what your life will be like together and can't wait to get started."
7. You don't always have to be right.
If being right is most important to you, you might not be ready for marriage, warns Doares. "Building a life with someone who has had different experiences from you is challenging," says Doares. "And putting different perspectives in terms of right versus wrong turns your relationship into a tug of war. If you need to always be right, it means your partner will always be wrong. While staying within your comfort zone is understandable, being willing to be uncomfortable and trying on your partner's position will bring greater success."