Is he ready to commit?
Let's face it, when you make things official with the cute guy you've been dating, you are not always thinking about whether or not he is husband material. Heck, we may not even be sure he's boyfriend material!
There comes a time, however, when your thoughts turn toward the future and whether or not there is one with your current beau. Believe it or not, many women start wondering when their boyfriend is going to pop the question without ever actually having a conversation with him about marriage. As much as you love your man, big things like this just can't go overlooked.
So, if you're beginning to wonder if your guy has what it takes, ask yourself these five big picture questions.
1. Does he dream about getting married one day?
Before you face palm yourself wondering how you made it through the last two years of romance without actually having this conversation, know that you are not alone—you would be surprised by how few couples actually discuss this question.
For most couples these days, each step of the relationship is something a little bit more like falling than intentionally moving forward. We fall into hanging out, we fall in love, we fall into committed relationships. But far from threatening your success, breaking your momentum to think about the future for real can save you down the road.
It is good for romance to move forward with intention and to do that you must decide on a mutually desirable destination before you get in too deep. If you want marriage within the next few years but he is perfectly happy to coast along as boyfriend and girlfriend, this is something that you need to know. Furthermore, it's definitely a strike against his husband material score.
2. Does he fight with you respectfully?
If you have been dating for a year or more, chances are you have had some disagreements or flat out fights. This is not necessarily a bad thing for your future prospects and is actually quite normal.
What does bode poorly for a long and happy future together is fighting with contempt, criticism, defensiveness, or just avoiding confrontation all together and stonewalling instead. Marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman, says that these behaviors are the markers of an unhealthy relationship that, unless fixed, will lead to marital dissatisfaction and divorce.
Now, if your guy tends to stonewall or get defensive every time an issue arises, that doesn't mean you can't both work on your conflict style and overcome. But if those behaviors aren't improving or he isn't willing to put in the effort, this may mean your man—as much as you love him—doesn't have what it takes.
3. Does he share some of your most important life goals?
As married Verily readers share here, you don't have to have everything in common to have a happy marriage. But marriage is a lot easier and fulfilling when you and your future husband share similar or compatible life goals.
Some of these make-it-or-break-it life goals can be children (do you both want them?), travel (yeah, travel is expensive and can take a toll on a relationship if both people aren't into it), quality of life (do you both need a country club membership to be happy?). If your aspirations in these areas don't sync up, marriage could feel like you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
4. Does he share your values?
Our personal values influence so much of what we do and the kind of people we become, so it's important to marry someone who is able to accompany you as you grow and develop.
This doesn't necessarily mean a couple needs to share the same faith (although sometimes it does), but it is important that your individual faiths inspire compatible values and perspectives of the world. It may seem insignificant now that he thinks the life of man is nasty, brutish, and short (Thomas Hobbes anyone?) and you believe that everyone is basically good and that life is a box of chocolates, but when you get married this difference could get old fast.
5. Does he make you feel safe?
Sometimes we get into relationships with men who, whether it's physically or emotionally, don't make us feel safe. Your boyfriend could be abusive but you have developed an attachment; it takes a lot of courage to leave abusive relationships and it can often be tempting to justify it rather than leave.
It can also be that he is a super nice guy, but for whatever reason, you don't feel comfortable opening up to him emotionally or the prospect of being physically intimate with him makes you more anxious than excited.
Whatever the reason, in any relationship—and especially in marriage—feeling safe is incredibly important.
A happy and fulfilling marriage requires an incredible amount of vulnerability and in order to have healthy intimacy both people need to feel safe. In marriage, you need to feel safe enough to communicate your feelings, opinions, and desires and if your current boyfriend doesn't make you feel safe in these ways, it may mean that marriage might not be the best thing for either of you.
This article was originally published at Verily. Reprinted with permission from the author.