The truth is, answering the question, "Am I really ready to get married?" is the most important issue to consider. In fact, there are 12 indicators of a successful marriage that can help you decide if you're ready for the next step.
If you match these indicators that predict you will have a successful marriage and you feel good about your answers to these questions, you are ready to get married.
In our speeches, blogs, and world travels we are often asked, "Are there ways to ensure that a marriage will succeed?" The answer is of course, "No." Life, love, and marriage do not come with absolute guarantees.
However, you can greatly increase the odds that your marriage will last a lifetime if your relationship closely resembles the following 12 findings we have gleaned from our research and the marriage research of others we highly value.
If your "marriage profile" looks like this, you're ready for a lifetime commitment to marriage. These are, in essence, the "predictors of a successful marriage."
The 12 Indicators Needed For A Successful Marriage:
1. Get Married When You're At Least 25 Years Old.
Couples who get married after the age of 25 are far more likely to stay married than those who get married at a younger age. Doing so will pay many dividends over the years ahead. Experience and wisdom that comes with age will certainly contribute to the success of a marriage.
2. Do Not Have Children In The First Year Of Your Marriage.
Nora Ephron once said, "Having children is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage!" Children are wonderful, but they bring stress and challenges to a marital relationship, especially to a new marriage. Have children when you know and understand each other and your marriage is ready for the responsibilities associated with parenting. Your marriage will be well-served, make no mistake about that. Have you taken steps to insure that you don't get pregnant before marriage or early in your marriage?
3. Have An Income-Producing Job With Stability Before You Get Married.
Here's what we know, couples with annual incomes over $50,000 (vs. under $25,000) experience a drastically reduced risk of divorce. It only makes sense that couples that have steady jobs with steady incomes are far more likely to have a successful marriage. Do you and your partner have stable income-producing jobs? Are you financially independent so that each of you can stand on your own?
4. Couples That Consider Themselves Religious Or Spiritual Are Considerably Less Likely To Get Divorced.
Faith and spirituality contribute to the sense of oneness felt by successfully married couples — a necessary prerequisite to a long and happy marriage. Have you openly discussed spirituality and religious beliefs with the person you are thinking about marrying? Do you have similar views? Can you accept each other's differences? Have you talked about how you will raise your children — in what faith or spiritual upbringing?
5. College Educated Couples Have A Much Less Chance Of Divorce Than Those With Only A High School Diploma.
Education almost always leads to enlightenment and understanding and more tolerance for the views of others — so critically important in successful marriages. In fact, college educated women are more likely to get married than their less educated counterparts, and much more likely to have a successful marriage. Have you discussed with the one you love what he or she thinks about your educational goals? Have you discussed what his or her goals are? Have you discussed how you will achieve those goals?
6. Make Sure The One You Love Is Your Best Friend.
When someone asks you who your best friend is, the honest answer must be, "The person I want to marry." There is no other acceptable answer to this question. If you answer this question correctly, your marriage has a better than average chance of success. Being in love is never enough without friendship. All long-term successfully married couples know this to be a fact!
7. Always Fight Fair In Your Relationship.
All married couples argue — the good, the bad, and the ugly marriages — they all do it. The difference is how they argue. If you decide to submerge your feelings, let the anger fester, and go to bed mad at each other — well, you are heading down a path that could ultimately lead to the destruction of your marriage. Arguing is healthy for a marriage. Just fight fair and never make your arguments personal and hurtful! Do you and the one you love fight fair with each other? Do you always feel respected when you're arguing?
8. Keeping Your Individual Identity.
While in many ways "two becomes one" in the best marriages, losing who you are is not a pre-requisite to being happily and blissfully married. Quite the contrary, losing the sense of "who you are" will hurt your relationship. Be true to your identity as a human being. If you feel you are losing your individual identity because of your relationship with the one you are in love with, stop and take a good hard look at what is happening.
9. Always Allow Time To Be Alone — For Both Of You.
We have learned over the past three decades of research one fundamental truism — every human being has a fundamental predisposition to be alone, to be by themselves from time to time. Allowing yourself time to be alone to your thoughts each day will serve you and your marriage well. Extending the same opportunity to your spouse will pay huge dividends for your marriage. A relationship that does not follow this simple advice could place your relationship in grave jeopardy. Does the one you are thinking about marrying give you a chance to think for yourself? Does he or she allow you time to be alone or do you feel smothered? Is your desire to have quiet time respected?
10. Talk About Anything And Everything!
Marriages thrive on open communication and honest discussion. The most successfully married couples we have interviewed around the world tell us that they have learned to communicate frequently, fairly, openly and honestly. Mum is not the word in marriages that work! Practicing communication with your spouse each and every day is a necessary prerequisite for the success of your marriage. There should be no sacred cows in your marriage! Does the one you are thinking about marrying engage in open and honest communication with you? Is your lover willing to talk with you about anything and everything?
11. Always Show Mutual Respect And Admiration For Each Other.
The best marriages repeatedly engage in acts of kindness towards each other. They do nice things for each other with no expectation of something in return. They work hard to understand each other’s needs and wants. They say thank you and please. They open doors for each other. Successfully married couples do all these things automatically, without ever thinking about it. But remember – these behaviors take daily practice! Do you see these behaviors in the one you love? Does he or she always remember to be respectful?
12. You Must Pass The Marry The Right Guy Quiz.
If you can't get out of the starting gate by marrying the right guy, the rest doesn't matter. Take the Quiz in How to Marry the Right Guy and if you receive a score of 90 or higher, you have met the first pre-requisite of being ready to get married — finding the right guy to marry.
There is a profile for marital success — there are predictors associated with the best marriages and they do not occur by accident or happenstance. It takes hard work to make a marriage work.
When you are contemplating marriage you should start to pay very close attention to the one you think you love. Remember, actions and deeds trump words every time! Watch very carefully his or her actions and make sure that they match their words. Does he or she do the simple things day in and day out, or not? Simple things matter, and the simple truth is if you do not see the behaviors you want and expect from the one you are thinking of marrying, it will only get worse over time.
Deciding if you are ready to get married begins with love. Agreement on the "core values" of marriage will grow the love, and doing the simple things day in and day out will sustain the love.
For more essential tips on determining if your new love is actually marriage material, read How to Marry the Right Guy.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Authors of the multiple award-winning book, Building a Love that Lasts.