You’ve probably heard it said often “you’ll KNOW when you’ve found the one” And truly that’s how it happened for my husband and I. We dated for 6 months, got engaged, planned a wedding in 8 months and started our life together. But there was a lot of work to get us to the stage of being ready to tackle a big life change like marriage together. If you are in a serious relationship, you might be wondering when is the right time to get engaged? Well sister, lemme tell you a few key ideas and concepts you will want to evaluate in your relationship.
1. You embrace open and loving communication: Communicating in a dating relationship is very different than communicating in a marriage. Mostly due to that fact that marriage comes with a lot of different expectations, put on us by both our society and by our psyche. My husband and I try to approach all conversations and relationship interactions with the motto of “Always assume positive intentions.” Even if he is saying something that feels negative or rains on a positive day, it’s easier for me to put that aside for a minute and ask a few clarifying questions to avoid building an unnecessary wall.
When it comes to disagreements, tough topics, and political views do you approach discussing these subjects with your partner with an open mind? Or do you wage war to win them to your side? It’s definitely important to make sure that your feelings are heard and deemed as valid and important, but no one person’s opinion is more important than any others. Are there any specific topics that are a continuous struggle for you? If so, maybe think about seeing a couples counselor or therapist who can help you dig deep and sort through the underlying causes or deep-seated beliefs on the subject.
2. You’ve processed and discussed your relationship history: Before my husband, I had seriously dated (as in dated in my 20’s) 1 other guy. And that relationship taught me A LOT! It made me learn to trust my gut instincts about red flags in relationships. It taught me to be courageous and not be afraid to tell someone what I needed in a relationship (and what I wasn’t willing to settle for). It reminded me how serious and fragile feelings are and how to make sure to treat others with care, and it gave me a reason to be true to myself and seek happiness in other aspects of my life before jumping into the dating pool again.
Is there a common thread in all of your past relationships? An issue that continues to rear it’s ugly head time and time again? It might be time to do some soul-reflecting and dive into what sort of expectations or hang-ups are keeping you from a grounded relationship. Do a little reconnaissance into your relationship past and really ask yourself, is there anything I could have done differently in this relationship to glean a better outcome and avoid the stress and heartbreak?
3. You’ve looked to the future: I had always been able to visualize myself walking down the aisle to marry whoever I envisioned in my life. The current guy I was crushing on. That sexy model on the Hollister bag. Paul Rudd. You get the picture. But when I started dating my husband, that visualization started to go further. I could see myself traveling with this guy. Investing in a home together. Starting a family at some point and raising children together. These other life changes require a significant amount of trust, respect, and desire to even think about making them a reality. And I wanted to share all of the challenges and emotions that would come with them with this one special and loving human!
Have you thought about – or better yet, talked about, where you might spend your life together? In a big city? A quiet countryside cabin? Does your future involve children, traveling, career challenges and changes? Do your moral compasses point you in the same direction and towards the same life goals? And don’t forget about the little desires of your heart too. Will he support your desire to watch every single episode of The Bachelor? Will you be willing to put aside time for the two of you to go camping together? Will you both sacrifice time and money to put each other first?
4. You focus on filling your own bucket first: This past year was really about me learning how to take care of myself, instead of relying on someone else to “complete” me. Yes, your spouse has a significant role to play in the outcome of your life, but ultimately you control where you are heading. I have learned what my own personal brand of “self-care” looks like. I have learned that if I want to work out and feel better no one else has to feel the same way; this is about me and my body. I learned that just because I am eating a certain way doesn’t mean that everyone else has to as well. My journey is about me. Me being fully who I am as I pursue my dreams, passions, and desires. And it’s an absolute blessing to have someone who wants to journey alongside me, supporting me through it all.
Careers will change, your mood will swing, and you won’t always get what you want. In order to best stand by someone else through their rockiest moments, you have to be willing to take care of your own emotional, spiritual, and physical health first. Be the best version of yourself, so you can best show up for the people you love. It takes two whole people to make an exceptional relationship. Do you constantly rely on someone else to make you feel better through their compliments or acts of service for you? Are you dating around simply because it makes you feel whole and needed? Are you pursuing the things that set your soul on fire, or simply hiding in someone else’s shadow?
5. You’ve grounded yourself in the present: The small in-between moments are always my favorite. Kissing my husband when he walks in the door from work, the smell of his deodorant when he snuggles me in the morning, watching him light up about a writing project he’s working on, unpacking the groceries together. Those moments mean just as much to me as the big life building we are doing together.
The everyday moments add up in life. Taking on the highs, the lows, the challenges, the heartache, and the changes with someone else is what marriage is really about. It’s not always dreaming about the future, or wishing life could be different than it is. Are you constantly wondering what (or who) else is out there? Or maybe you find yourself always yearning for that next great adventure? Or wanting to change your significant other? Maybe it’s not a great time for you to settle into a forever commitment.
6. You bring out the best in one another: My husband is my biggest fan, my best friend, and my greatest cheerleader! When I have been at my highest highs and forming a new business and chasing down my dreams he has been there, and also when I have been at my lowest lows – crying on the bathroom floor or ready to throw in the towel he’s been there. And in those times he always encourages me to keep going, keep moving forward. He has taught me to see things with a wider lens, to appreciate what I have right in front of me, and to be a bit more adventurous. I would have never been able to embrace my ability to “laugh it off” without him by my side. Life’s a hell of a lot more whimsical, laughable, and joyful because we have allowed ourselves to become the best versions of ourselves through encouragement and support.
Life is going to bring a plethora of relationships your way. Are these relationships building you up, or are they tearing you down? There’s no point being in a relationship with someone who makes you bitter, or constantly causes anxiety or feelings of insecurity, or makes you upset. If this is a recurring issue – again see #2 – then you’ve got some work to do. But if this person is not a team player, cannot see eye-to-eye, and refuses to encourage you to grow then you’ve got to let them go.
I encourage you to think deeply about your relationship. And don’t be afraid to have the conversations that could lead you to an exceptional marriage!
If you’ve recently said “yes” to your forever love and are beginning your wedding planning journey, don’t forget to check out the 3 Golden Rules of Wedding Planning! I’d love to hear from you if you are looking for help in planning that intimate, love-fueled celebration! xoxo