How do you know when you’re ready for marriage? That's the million-dollar question. Pose that question to the outside world and you'll likely get the played out, "When you know, you know!" A successful marriage takes more than being madly in love—some prepared self-awareness is crucial, too.
1. You Love Yourself
You can't be happy with someone else until you're 100 percent happy with yourself. Sure, you can ask for your partner's support when you're upset, but as marriage coach Lesli Doares says, "Being married is about joining two lives together, not giving up one. Being content in your own skin means you won't be looking to your partner to fill voids in your life."
2. You Start Seriously Relating to Love Songs You Once Called "Silly"
Oh, man. You used to make fun of those mushy-gushy ballads that described physical aching when a lover was away. But all of a sudden, bae takes a business trip and your chest is heavy, your insides are squirming, and you just cried at a gum commercial. Oof.
3. You're Not Still Searching for a Better, Better Half
This feels like a no-brainer, but please tell us you've deleted the dating apps, and ceased all communication with the cutie at the dog park if you're considering "for better or for worse" with someone else.
Speaking of better, instead of secretly wondering if he/she is the best you can do, focus on making your relationship the BEST it can be. (Spoiler: If you decide to get married, you'll do this for the rest of your life.)
4. You've Got More Than Your Significant Other on Your Side
Nobody knows you better than your friends and family, so if they're telling you this is the finish line—GREAT! But if they're bringing up red flags about you-know-who, it might be time to pump the brakes and address those concerns.
5. You Kinda Feel Like Superheroes Together
Whether it's tag-teaming a grocery list or assembling a particularly devilish piece of Ikea furniture, if there are moments when your dynamic duo could take on the world, this is a good sign. Peak coupledom is all about teamwork and creative problem-solving. If you're always ready to save the day together, then you can start thinking about save-the-dates.
6. You Have No Problem Apologizing
Everyone effs up at some point, so if you're taking on forever with someone, you must have the ability to look that partner in the face and say, "My bad." And it has to be sincere!
7. You Don't Threaten to Leave When Discussions Get Heated
If something in your kitchen catches on fire, the absolute worst thing to do would be running out of the house, right? If your romantic counterpart is avoiding difficult discussions or throwing out menacing ultimatums, that should sound some alarms. Marriage is about working as a team to put out the flames when they arise. There's a reason firefighters are sexy.
8. You Can Discuss Exes With Minimal Drama
Speaking of fiery conversation topics...We know ex-talk can bring up some icky memories, but it's important to confirm that the person you're with 1) is completely over any old flames and 2) learned from his/her previous relationships. Too many "crazy exes" might indicate the problem may actually lie with the accuser.
9. You Recognize Effort Is Mandatory
Everyone loves to say that true love is effortless. That's bull. Maybe the affection is easy at times and the wanting to work on your problems is natural, but the actual relationship work itself is just that—WORK. Make that distinction upfront, and be sure you and your partner don't have any delusions about "rainbows and butterflies."
10. You've Perfected the Maintenance Text
Now for some good news about the above-mentioned effort: It doesn't have to be exhausting all the time. An indication that you and your (maybe!) future fiancé understand the thoughtfulness required for spousehood is "the maintenance text." A maintenance text is not meant for information swapping. Rather, it just says, "Hi, this thing reminded me of you and I care enough about making you smile to let you know." The best ones involve inside jokes or hilarious GIFs.
11. You're Financially Stable(ish)
Oh, gross. We're talking about money. Alas, it's one of the top reasons couples report bickering with their partners. While you obviously don't have to be Bill Gates–rich to get married, you do have to be fiscally responsible as a pair, and that means being able to openly communicate about all your joint and personal #MoneyMoves.
12. You're Willing to Participate in Each Other's Hobbies
You never fancied yourself a fly fisher. But, if you went out and bought waders and a rod just because so-and-so loves steamed trout, you're in deep, friend—and we don't just mean in a cold river here.
13. You Don't Need Inanimate Objects to Have a Good Time
If you can't hang out alone sans Netflix or iPhones, then do you really have a connection beyond a joint appreciation for WiFi?
14. You Don't Set Tests for One Another
"Why didn't you text back within seven minutes?" "What if I take a mold of your thumbprint in your sleep and use it to unlock your iPhone? Will you have texted a super good-looking human who wasn't me in the past 240 threads?" Giving your partner "chances" that are actually booby traps reveals there's deep insecurity surrounding this relationship, and it's not ready for aisle talk yet. (Though, we do recommend regular talk ASAP.)
15. You're Still Discovering New Things About One Another
Periods of boredom and monotony are normal, but if you're still uncovering happy surprises about each other after years of being together, that's due to some conscious attempts at engagement on your part, and that's encouraging for the future.
16. You Start Putting Them Down as Your Emergency Contact
Before mom!? Book the venue. You're ready.
17. Your Partner Relates to All of These Signs, Too
Marriage isn't a two-for-one deal; both of you have to feel these sappy feels while also committing to toughing out the crappy parts.