As a Christian relationship coach, I'm often asked, "How will I know if my future spouse is the right one for me?" Because divorce is a norm in our society, my clients seek help to prevent a dissolution of their owncommitted relationships. The key is not to fear marriage, even though taking a leap can be scary—but instead to develop a strong sense of personal values so you can be attracted to someone who is likeminded. I have talked to individuals who believed they were in love with their significant other but hesitated to take the next step toward engagement (and ultimately marriage) because they had an uneasy feeling about "forever after" with this person.
It is very easy to rationalize away intuitive signals about behaviors and beliefs that do not agree with your values. Some issues can be worked through when further explored, while some only highlight what you already knew: this marriage should not take place. It is the ones who walk down the aisle anyway, knowing they are saying, "I do" to Mr. Wrong that find themselves on a very long journey of heartache.
The importance of listening to your intuition before marriage was the subject of a recent study published in Science and posted by NY Mag, suggesting that newlyweds' ignored gut instincts about their spouses were actually effective predictors of future marital satisfaction.
I'd like to share my top two pieces of advice as a relationship coach for those wondering if their cold feet are a sign of something bigger:
1. Know your core truths.
The key element in preparation for a lasting, fulfilling marriage is to examine your belief system and life foundation. It is important not to just seek a quick fix and cover emotional wounds, but rather take the steps toward lasting healing. Unfortunately, negative core beliefs tend to gain strength over time. Simply removing one's self from a detrimental environment does not eliminate programmed mindsets.
I have worked with countless individuals to help them heal emotionally and attract lasting love—and can help you too. Individuals generally fall into several categories when describing their formative years. Some say they had a great childhood and present a facade to others, denying the dysfunction of their living environment. The overwhelming driver is the conviction that if the truth were revealed, love and acceptance from others would be illusive.
A second primary group acknowledges the dysfunction, but believes distance and vowing to do the opposite of what was modeled will be enough to break the pattern and achieve a different result. When children are exposed to unhealthy behaviors, they initiate habits to protect themselves emotionally in relationships. That learned conduct does not fade with time, but rather carries into adulthood. You must give yourself time to build a new way of thinking. This process does require discipline, endurance, patience with yourself, and faith that God will show you how to change.
As a result of family environment circumstances, instinctively one attracts incidents to prove and confirm the false core beliefs are true. Foundational mindsets shape and guide life direction, including relationship choices, poor boundary formation, communication skills, dysfunctional friendship choices, and even unwise career decisions—until action is taken to overcome those beliefs. Until the identification of the original source of emotional wounds is made, one's true self is hidden because the conditioning is rooted in changing the natural personality to adapt to the environment.
If the model you had for love was dysfunctional, there's a tendency to be very uncertain about making long term commitments, as you fear repeating the same pattern. But your parents' pattern does not need to be your future. The key to an emotionally healthy marriage involves releasing these falsehoods and changing foundational beliefs.
The revelation that just one person, especially a spouse, cannot provide the healing, emotional desires, and security that can only come from faith is a powerful milestone. We cannot put that kind of pressure on our partner. The challenge of transformation, especially in conquering self-defeating behavior, is not an easy path, as many core beliefs are so ingrained, that resisting that change and sabotaging those efforts is not uncommon. That's why working with spirituality as the foundation to build is so essential.
2. Be emotionally ready for love.
The primary key to a successful marriage is emotional readiness. Before you can attract the right spouse, you must accept the concept of love mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It's easier to spend years chasing a dream or running away from love than it is to take a leap of faith and get the necessary emotional healing before making a lifelong commitment.
So when is the right time to marry? The right time to marry is when you take love seriously; not passively committing to marriage or ignoring red flags in the behavior of your significant other. You must know what you want out of love and understand the importance of making a life together. You must not so enamored with the wedding preparation that you forget to what's being celebrated. The right time to marry is when you know the correct order of your priorities, are committed to your convictions and share a strong mutual foundation of life goals with your future spouse.
Preparing for lasting love and a fulfilling marriage will not take the romance out of the equation, but will set you on the right track toward achieving those dreams you have in your heart. If you are ready to make a life commitment or have the new year goal of attracting a man who shares your dreams and goals for love, let me show you how to get started today.
Nancy Pina is a highly recognized author, relationship coach and speaker. She is dedicated to helping individuals attract emotionally healthy relationships through her practical Christian-based advice. Visit her website for coaching options and recent books. Subscribe to her free report, Is He The Right One or schedule a free coaching session with Nancy.
More love advice from YourTango: