You've dated around, had a couple of long-term relationships, and hopefully figured out which qualities are important to you and what makes a relationship work. Now you're faced with the inevitable question, "Am I ready to get married?"
For women, the most important signs are:
- You share similar goals. If you and your guy have different priorities, you're going to end up being disappointed. For example, a woman called my show the other day complaining that her husband had moved their family 13 times in as many years to satisfy his appetite for wanderlust (which is a HORRIBLE thing for kids). Before you consider marriage, ask yourself and your partner about where you want to live, if you want to have kids, and religious views. Find out what the deal breakers are.
- You don't want to change him. Similar to buying a dress from the store, when you get married, you take your man "as-is". Sure, you might be able to tweak him a little bit, but you can't fundamentally change him. If you don't accept that, you're going to end up frustrated and bitchy. You don't have to adore everything about him, but you do have to make peace with the fact that on Sunday afternoons it's him and ESPN, and you're not going to change that.
- You connect on more than just a physical level. A very small percentage of marriage is spent in passionate lovemaking. You need to know that you can have fun together and enjoy each other when your clothes are ON.
- You can see past your wedding day. Many women are bridezillas: They are so focused on their wedding and being the center of the universe in their stunning white gown that they lose sight of their fiancé and the whole concept of marriage.
- You can talk to each other. You know you're ready to get married when you can talk things out rationally (without yelling or screaming) and not let issues get pushed under the rug without being resolved.
- Everyone you know says your guy is fab. It's fine if a few family members or friends aren't huge fans (you can't please everybody), but if everyone you know hates this guy, they might be on to something. Your family and friends know you, and they can look at the situation objectivity. If they're reasonably nice people, pay attention to them, otherwise your marriage is going to be a constant acid drip.
Guys, on the other hand, start feeling ready for marriage when the singles scene just doesn't appeal to them anymore, and they stop wanting to bed hot girls that they can't have conversations with afterward. Men have biological clocks, but it has nothing to do with making babies. It has to do with being financially stable and settled in their careers. Most college educated men don't consider marriage as a possibility until at least 26, and they don't enter a phase of high commitment until the ages of 28-33. Guys who have gone to graduate school hit their commitment peak even later (30-36).
Here are some signs that a guy is NOT ready to get married:
- He's financially unstable. If a guy is still struggling to pay his bills, he's not ready to get married or take on the extra burden of a family. In addition, if he buys a very expensive car for himself instead of saving up for a ring or your future, he's not interested in marriage.
- He won't commit. If a guy is unable to commit to a job, family or friends, then he can't be counted on.
- You have to talk him into it. If he says he's not interested in getting married, don't try to change his mind - believe him.
- He calls his married friends "losers" or "stupid." A guy who thinks having a family is cute is much more ready to become a husband and a father.
- He continually makes you cry (and I'm not talking about tears of happiness). If he's unreliable, abusive, a liar, a cheater, or a flirt, you need to divorce yourself from this relationship BEFORE you're married.
Above all: use your brain. Don't get married when you're in the throes of the early stages of a relationship. Fantasies are not the stuff that long-term relationships are built on.