in: love

“Run to the Altar” Syndrome: 10 Signs You’re Not Ready for Marriage

Kristen Hick

Tell-tale sign you’re not ready for marriage (number one): executing your fairy-tale wedding takes precedence over the “happily ever after” part.  


If you’ve been to a grocery store check-out line, turned on the television, or even connected with friends on social media sites, chances are you’ve been inundated by the magazines, commercials, reality shows, advertisements, etc. portraying a fantasy-driven story line pertaining to marriage. 

The entire objective of this media is to get you to buy in to the idea of marriage—that marriage is the epitome of a successful life, of being happy—and the only legitimate relationship status. And (oh, by the way) to buy the product they’re selling related to making your Big Day super-duper special.  

Chances are you’ve bought in—at least partially—to the romantic idea of an over-sized diamond ring, expensive wedding and that all will be good and golden once you are safely married. You’ll be blissfully happy, secure and together forever

I don’t want to burst your marriage bubble, but lately it seems like people are rushing into marriage all too quickly, without thoughtfully considering what marriage is—and is not. 

Marriages can be as different as the people who are in them, and many of them, of course, are both wonderful and enduring. However, when you do what I do for a living—work with people who experience heartache, financial duress, frustration and disappointment due to separation and divorce—you start to recognize the common denominators of those who were ready and those who should have taken more time to make this “forever” decision.

“Run-to-the-Altar Syndrome” Checklist

1. Wedding Day Fantasy

Ladies (in particular): If the idea of playing out your childhood dream of wearing a fancy white dress, having a gigantic rock on your finger and throwing a big wedding excites you more than spending forever with that special person, you’re not ready.

2. Better Than Nothing

If you’ve ever seriously thought that he/she is better than having no one, or that you don’t think you’ll find anyone better so you might as well settle, you’re not ready. Similarly, if you’ve ever gotten to the point of considering that this person is not the right person to marry, but you can’t bear the thought of starting over and dating again, you’re not ready.

3. Attention From Others

Certainly some forms of friendly flirting are okay with some partners (see #5e below). However, if you entertain romantic advances or initiate/reciprocate communication (e.g., via texting, messaging, emails, lunches, etc.) with someone else and you don’t want your partner to find out, chances are your guilty feelings indicate that you are guilty of doing something inappropriate. You’re not ready for marriage.

4. Know Thyself

If you’ve never been single for long enough to feel good with just being with yourself or you haven’t gotten to know yourself outside of being in a relationship, you’re not ready.

5. Five Key Areas

If you have not had some really honest talks and found some common ground on the following key areas in a marriage, you’re not ready.

a.) Family Planning: Do you want children? How many? Who’s going to take care of them, and in which ways?
b.) Money: What sort of financial knowledge does each of you possess? Are you savers or spenders? Do you hide spending from your partner? Do you want to have joint or separate accounts? Will one person be in charge of finances or will both participate equally?
c.) Values: Do you agree (for the most part) on important values, and on how to raise children (if any) with these values?
d.) Religion/Spiritual Beliefs and Practices: How do your beliefs influence how you live your lives (e.g., family planning, holidays, participation in a spiritual community)? Do you share the same beliefs, or have you discussed what compromises will be made for those that differ?
e.) Sex: Can you communicate your desires, fantasies and dislikes? Are you able to find compromise in the bedroom? Do you believe in monogamy or in alternative practices, such as open relationships (recall #4 above?)?

6. Trust

If you cannot trust your partner implicitly to hold your interests and feelings in the highest regard and trust yourself with him/her, you’re not ready.

7. Families

If you haven’t met each other’s families (unless they are no longer living), gotten to know them and your partner’s relationship with them, and what influence they may or may not have on your marriage, you’re not ready.

8. Communication Style

If you feel you need to hide, or cannot communicate with your partner about your thoughts, feelings, or important matters, if you can’t fight fairly and find some common ground in disputes, you’re not ready.

9. Life-long Playmate

If none of your favorite past times involve spending time with your significant other, and you look forward to times away from vs. times with him/her, you’re not ready.

10. Annoying Little Things

If the little things he/she does annoy you to the point of disgust and make you pull away, you’re not ready. There are going to be some rough times ahead in marriage and if you can’t look past the little things, how are you going to deal with the big things?

If any of these apply to you and your special someone (but you are still salivating over Bride magazine!) you may have “Run to the Altar” Syndrome. If so, don’t fret. It simply means that you may need to slow things down and thoughtfully consider this life-changing decision. 

Strange as it may sound, pretty much no one goes into marriage thinking he/she will end up being one of the unlucky-in-love 60%+ that end up divorcing. It’s kind of like that statistic that 80% of drivers believe they are among the top 20% of skillful drivers on the road. But so much of this pain can be avoided if you take the time to put on the brakes and look around at your real location, and at who’s in the car with you.

[image: via Sarah C. Wilson on flickr]

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About the Author:

Kristen Hick Kristen Hick

Kristen Hick, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the area of awakened dating and healthy relationships. She is the founder of Center for Shared Insight, a private psychotherapy practice in Denver where she and her clients focus on Individual Relationship Therapy. Dr. Hick’s expertise lies in helping individuals create healthy, meaningful, and loving relationships with others through healing, strengthening and transforming their most essential relationship, with themselves. When not helping clients fulfill their personal relationship goals, she enjoys the Colorado outdoors, capturing life through photography, practicing yoga and hopes to one day manage her first unassisted headstand. You can connect with Dr. Hick on her site, Facebook or Google+

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