Whether you’re single, dating, in a relationship or newly engaged, some things are just good to know. See if you land on the “marriage material” list.
What is marriage material anyway? In reality, everyone is marriage material and can walk down the aisle. The real question is, how do you know if you are marriage material and have the correct skills to be in a healthy, long-term, and successful marriage?
If your ultimate goal is to be in a lasting, awesome marriage, these tips provide several must-have skills so you feel more confident about truly being marriage quality and ready. That’s the ticket!
As I said, anyone can walk down the aisle and get married. Anyone can be married for a few years and then find themselves in the “divorced” line, having to start over. I am betting you would rather have the opportunity to celebrate a 25-year or 50-year wedding anniversary with someone and be proud of your accomplishment. Yes? We all want someone to be our partner for life! The on-again, off-again, starting over thing is exhausting and sucks.
I have been married for almost a year now, and I certainly am no expert in marriage yet. However, as an International Dating & Love Life coach who has coached hundreds of singles with numerous long-term relationships including seven marriages, I’m privy to what it does take to get off the dating market and enjoying a satisfying marriage other people admire.
I literally didn’t know until the night before if I was going to get married or not. That’s the honest truth. Why? I had been engaged twice before and never married, and being that close to making the commitment of my life was terrifying. I wanted to run for the hills as I had done in the past. I still had many concerns I needed to express and have addressed.
You maybe wondering why I waited so long. I didn’t. They flooded up, so I left no stone unturned. I know it sounds crazy. I guess I was terrified of making the wrong decision. This was his third marriage and I didn’t want him to have to go through another divorce. I wanted us both to be as sure as possible. It wasn’t until the night before I was supposed to walk down the aisle that I said, “yes” to being with him for the rest of my life. I was committed to meaning every aspect of the words “I do”. We had some very intense conversations before our wedding day. I am so happy we went through that because there was nothing unsaid between us.
As I said, everyone is marriage material whether you believe it or not. However, there are some important and necessary skills one must learn to maintain the relationship and have a healthy marriage.
5 Ways to Know if You’re Marriage Material
#1) You’re capable of complete transparency.
Being transparent is never easy. I remember when I first met my husband. I had to share some very personal news with him before we considered making love. I almost wanted to die. Five years before, I was cheated on and given the skin virus HPV. The thought of sharing this with him was very embarrassing, but I knew I had to. He was really great and consoling with me. That was the first time I knew that he could be “the one.” I am now HPV negative.
Some questions to consider about being transparent:
- Are you willing to be a windowpane of glass with someone?
- Can you be a space for someone to say anything to you?
- Do people have to be careful with you?
When real trust is built, you both know to your bones that each of you can openly and safely express anything to each other, good or bad. Once you understand this about your relationship, this special connection is worth taking a step towards marriage. Until then, I’d recommend practicing and building the muscle to be able to be fully transparent. It’s the difference between a two-year marriage and a 50-year marriage. It builds a level of trust between you that’s unbreakable and solid.
#2) You have the capacity to grow and learn alongside another person.
Many people think once they get into a relationship or marriage, they have arrived. I’m sorry to burst some bubbles. From experience, I’ve learned this is just where the learning, growing and expanding begins. It’s true that, for most people, going from being single to a loving relationship takes a transformation. I highly recommend taking classes together—especially if you have a fear of the relationship becoming boring, routine and predictable. Continue to expand as a partner and as a couple. I also recommend having individual goals and goals as a couple.
My husband and I enjoy taking Landmark Worldwide vacation courses, and soon we are exploring a Tantra class. Why? Why not? It’s a fun exploration, and we only live once.
#3) You must be able to talk about the uncomfortable stuff.
Discussing topics such as sex, money, things that do not work, and my past were very uncomfortable subjects when we first got together. Sometimes I found them scary, no matter how gentle I thought his responses would be. They just were.
Some questions for you to ponder:
- Can you talk openly and freely about money without concern?
- Are you willing to discuss your sexual needs and wants?
- Are you able to talk about what’s bothering you in a healthy way?
One day, my husband brought up “living wills.” Huh? It was important for him to talk about. He wanted to know we’d be taken care of contractually if one of us passes. I had never had that discussion with a boyfriend before. As we talked about it, I sat at the table with tears flowing down my face at the thought of one of us dying and leaving the other.
Although I hated having this discussion two years into our relationship, the clarity and peace it brought to our minds was amazing. Be confident that you can talk about any subject with your partner, even if it makes you a little squeamish. One of the best ways to increase your skills, and be marriage ready, is to be able to frame conversations, approach a subject, ask questions and listen to the answers.
#4) You must be an adult.
When I was engaged, twice in my early 30s, there were many times I’d stomp out the door and run because I was mad. I’d get so mad, I wanted to punch a wall. When I thought about it, I realized I was being a big baby about things if I didn’t get my way. I had to learn to have a conversation even when something started to bother me.
If I could feel myself making my partner wrong about something, I knew it was time to broach the topic to prevent things from building up. As I knew from my past, when things build up too much, an explosion can occur. Being an adult in a relationship is not about everything being perfect. Rather, it’s about being willing to have a two-way conversation. It also takes talking live on the phone or in person, instead of trying to discuss something via text message or email. Just sayin’.
#5) You must have guts.
One of the scariest and most fun things I’ve ever done is gotten married. Maybe that’s why it took three engagements and being 44 years old to actually go through the process and say “I do.” I got close, but never took the plunge. Looking back now, I’m grateful I waited.
Making a choice to go out with someone, fall in love and then choosing to be married for a lifetime takes tremendous guts. It takes balls to take this risk and go for it. Mostly, it takes courage to go all-in and give it everything you have. What if we all gave 1000% to our marriages? Maybe there would be fewer divorces?
There are many, many more must-have’s to be marriage material. These are the five I thought you should consider first as you’re on your adventure of a lifetime…LOVE!
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[images: via Simon Powell and J.K. Califf on flickr]