Some people get married within weeks of meeting each other. Other couples tie the knot after spending decades together as partners. On average, most couples that plan to get married do so after two to three years of dating, whether or not they’ve lived together first. However, that doesn’t mean that’s the perfect time for you and your loved one to get married. Recognize the signs that you and your loved one are ready for marriage.
A Gut Feeling
If you’re asking yourself if it’s time to propose, you’re in the right frame of mind to embark on the next level of commitment. As for knowing when your partner is ready, you’ve hopefully discussed the prospect of marriage beforehand, but she might be giving you hints, like talking about a friend who got engaged or pointing out décor she’d like at her wedding “someday.” While a gut feeling isn’t the only sign it’s time to propose, it’s easily the most important one – and you can always wait for the rest to fall into place during a longer-than-average engagement.
Finances in Order
When you marry someone, you’re not just pooling your finances, you’re taking on responsibility for each other’s debts. A successful marriage is aided by consistent income and little debt. If you have student loans, car loans, or credit card debt, work toward paying them off or at least paying them down in the months before you propose to lessen the financial burden you face as a couple once you’re married. You’ll also need to be able to afford a bigger place to live together, unless one of you has a large enough living space you can move into, so you’ll want to save as much as possible – not to mention for the cost of the rings and the ceremony itself.
Healthy Reactions to Conflict
Except in rare cases, conflict in relationships is unavoidable – but there’s a big difference between unhealthy conflict and healthier conflict that will serve you well in marriage. If you frequently break up with your partner, marriage won’t fix the issues plaguing your relationship. If both or either of you reacts explosively to conflict, seek counseling before you take the next big step. Sometimes, if unhealthy conflict is unavoidable, it’s better to recognize that before you propose and walk away. If you come together after fights, apologize, and never give up on each other, you’re ready to tackle a bigger commitment.
You Know Your Partner Inside and Out
The reason why most people don’t get married after a few weeks is because it’s normal to feel the high of puppy love in those first few weeks or even up to a year of dating, but things people settle back into their old habits later in relationships. It’s best if you’ve spent at least a year together and you’ve seen more than just your partner’s best foot forward. You should have met his friends and family or at least know why, if applicable, he’s estranged from them. The last thing you want to find out when you make a proposal is that your secretive mate is actually married and you didn’t realize you were carrying on an affair. You should feel like you know your partner, inside and out, and that there are almost no secrets between you.
Sooner If You Want Kids
If both of you want children, there’s some added pressure to get married sooner than you might otherwise if you didn’t want to have kids. However, don’t confuse that with letting yourself be rushed into marriage before you’re ready. If you’ve been together at least a year, it’s probably time, since the sooner you have children, the easier it’ll be to birth and raise them while you’re younger and healthier. The one exception would be is if you or your loved one is under 21 and you’re still maturing. Feel free to wait until you’re around 25 if need be, as there will be plenty of time to have children at a healthy age after that.
While the proposal itself ought to be as imaginative and romantic as you can make it, that doesn’t mean you should never talk about marriage before you pop the big question. You significantly decrease your chances of getting a “no” answer if you’ve clearly discussed the desire to get married at some point before the proposal. You also won’t waste years dating someone who doesn’t want to marry you if marriage is important to you. Talk about marriage freely with your partner, and when the time is right, you’ll know.