Whether you have been with your loved one for some time and are considering the next step, or you are at the start of a new relationship and have your sights on entering into wedded bliss, take the time to evaluate your thoughts and feelings before changing “I might” to “I do.”

Taking a good look in the mirror now is important for your long term happiness and sanity.

Join in here and consider these 19 issues, giving honest answers that will help indicate if you should get married.

1. For better or for worse

So you and your partner might robotically verbalize these traditional wedding vows before the celebrant and your guests, but does your partner sincerely encourage and persuade you to be the best you can be? If s/he becomes somewhat intimidated or threatened when you succeed and excel, this is a problem; and on the other side of the coin, do the two of you fair well in hard times? Does your partner sacrifice his or her own needs for you when necessary, and help to pull you both up when things aren’t so great? If s/he shows resentment and blame when you are sailing on rough waters, then again, this is of huge concern.

2. Mutual acceptance

No one is perfect and people change, but do you accept your partner when their true self is revealed? If you are struggling to accept some major feature(s) of their personality, you need to consider how this will impact you in the longer-term. Conversely, does your partner accept you unconditionally, and without judgement for your weaknesses?   

3. Personal acceptance

Do you know who you really are? In other words, are you established in your views of where you want to head in life and what your interests are? If you do not know who you really are, how are you able to be sure your partner is the right person for you?

4. The Happy Factor: Are you happy being in the relationship?

When two people decide to share their lives together, the goal isn’t to find a person who will make you happy. You should have been happy before entering into the relationship. Believing that marriage will be the channel to repair your unhappiness is a common misperception, and always inevitably an unsuccessful idea. Marriage will not solve your unhappiness. In addition, if your relationship is an unhappy one, for whatever reason, it is an indicator that counselling may be necessary before moving forward. Otherwise, you may need to call it quits.

5. The web

Do you feel trapped and are continuously looking for an exit, or are you completely committed to your partner? If you are not sure about how to answer this question, a clue that signifies any doubts you might have about your partner, would be your tendency to look for excuses to avoid settling down (eg, financial and career reasons), or you are just waiting until the ‘situation feels right’. At the end of the day, if you really want to be with your partner, nothing, and no circumstance, would stop you from wanting to walk down the aisle.

6. Holding back 

Are you fully attentive and thoughtful where your partner is concerned, or are you holding back from giving an all-out effort? From another perspective, does your partner inspire you to do anything and everything in your power to make him/her happy? For example, do you think ahead to important occasions such as your anniversary or Valentine’s Day, and search for gift ideas in order to express how much s/he means to you? Or do these occasions come and go with minimal preparation? Be wary if you feel that you are lacking in effort, because this might indicate that your partner doesn’t actually mean enough to you. And in reverse, does your partner go all-out for you, or does s/he seem to lack drive and enthusiasm in this area?

7. Balance

Are both of you on equal ground in the critical areas of compromise, support, and caring? Or does one of you predominantly sit back, take everything the other person gives, and get your own way? Without balance, the future does not look bright.  

8. Good times

Are you able to have fun and laugh together, even when one of you is doing something you prefer not to do? The key here is that if you are with someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with, then you will feel generally happy with that person, irrespective of the activity or occasion you are both taking part in.

9. Secure in separation

Are you able to enjoy time apart from one another without suspicion, anxiety, and dependence? Trust and security in one another are crucial to long-term relationship success.

10. Secure in your independence

Is your reason for being in the relationship based on a mutual trust, love and respect, or are you together due to a fear of being on your own? The ability to feel comfortable on your own, and non-dependent on the presence of others, will ensure that the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with is someone you are truly compatible with.

11. Road map

Is there a long term plan as to where the relationship is going, or are you living strictly for the moment? Anyone in a relationship who says “I just want to enjoy each day as it comes and not look too far into the future” is really saying, “I am not sure if you are the person I want to spend the rest of my life with”.

12. True goodness

Do you see your partner as a genuinely good person who you would vouch for under any circumstances? People ‘madly in love’ with another person may be willing to overlook some pretty big faults which signify that the person lacks some important moral values. For example, we all hear about women being drawn to ‘bad boys’, and the converse can happen for men who become addicted to ‘bad girls’. If you are in one of those situations where you love, but don’t like, your partner, your relationship is unlikely to survive.  

13. The hotness factor

Are you physically attracted to one another, or is it a fading memory? Physical attractiveness should become less of a focus over time as to why the two of you are together. But if there is no attraction at all, it will lead to the other person feeling resentful or rejected, or both.

14. The parental role

Do you see yourself predominantly as an adult, as a child, or as a parent in the relationship? Each person will be a little of everything to the other at various times, eg, nurse, teacher, psychologist, best friend etc. But when the caring role becomes the primary role for either one of you (ie, the parenting role), the power dynamic becomes unequal, and the level of respect for one another is significantly unbalanced. Over time, this dynamic is destructive for the relationship. At the end of the day, you should each, on average, be relating to each other as adult-to-adult. This way of interacting optimizes mutual respect on an ongoing basis.  

15. Team mate

Are the two of you part of a team where loyalty, support, and unity are the glue that secures you together, or do you tend to feel undermined, judged or criticized more often than not?

16. Walking hand in hand

Are you and your partner on the same page when it comes to topics such as politics, children, and religion? Any differences in views on these issues will pose a major obstacle for the two of you getting along, and can tear you apart.  

17. Growing up

Do you give each other the room to grow separately as individuals, yet share enough time together for growth to be realized as a couple? It is vital that your identity, and that of your partner’s, is not solely governed by the other person’s opinions, interests, hobbies, social networks, etc. You each need to be comfortable with who you are, and to be able to function independently from each other some of the time, so that your own development continues on a path of its own during the course of the relationship.

18. Becoming lost

This point follows on from the previous point on growing up. Are you still able to be the person you are while being in love with the other person? It is easy to get lost in love because of the desire to want to be with, and please the other person. But eventually, you will have to come back and be yourself – or lose yourself forever.

19. Basic instincts

At the most basic fundamental level, are you paying attention to your own intuition and instincts about the relationship? Have you ever had some doubts about the two of you, even though you were not able to put a finger on why you were feeling that way? There is a chance that there is nothing wrong with the two of you as a couple, but there is also a chance that your instincts are telling you to be wary for a reason. In any case, you need time to work out if there is any basis to your doubts or concerns, and once you have worked out where they are coming from, you will know whether the relationship should continue or not.

When is it time to walk away from the relationship?

If any of the issues in this article have raised concerns for you, and/or have created any doubts in your mind about whether you should get married, perhaps some more soul searching and research is needed on your end. You can click here to read my article on some other key signs on when it might be time to walk away from your relationship, or at the very least, seek some counselling with your partner.

Remember, the protection of your future happiness and emotional well-being is crucial, so take the time now to carefully consider your situation. You will thank yourself in the longer-term if you rationally examine your options now.  

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   

Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS