Does your vision of married life also include a trip to a divorce lawyer’s office? Probably not. Don’t worry; I’m not offended. In my over ten years of practice as a divorce attorney, I’ve often joked that no one wants to end up in my office, no matter how good the coffee is.
People spend a lot of time worrying about how to divorce-proof their marriage. They ask me about it all the time! My job gives me a unique perspective on all things love, relationship, and marriage. This knowledge includes being able to spot the common signs that someone is not ready for marriage.
Ready to dive in? Here are seven reasons to admit that you are not ready to get married.
1. You are not over your ex
Do you know the saying “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else”? It’s crude, I know, but it does have some validity. Moving on and finding someone new after a heartbreak can help you get over the loss of the past relationship. It gives you a reason to be hopeful about love and, frankly, allows your mind to focus on something and someone else.
You’ve heard of a rebound relationship, right? I’m not saying that you should automatically discount the person that you date next after the end of a serious partnership. But, (okay you knew that was coming, right?) before you jump back into another serious partnership, you need to think about whether you are emotionally ready for a new commitment or you just don’t want to be alone.
It is particularly true if you are looking for a relationship to end in an engagement and marriage. The stakes are much higher if you are looking for a long-term partner as opposed to just a dinner date. So how will you know if you are ready? Here are some things to look for:
- Are you constantly thinking about your ex and your past relationship while spending time with your new partner?
- If your ex called you right now and wanted to get back together, would you do so even though you are in a new relationship?
- Are you only in this relationship because you don’t want to be alone?
- Have you only started dating again because you know that your ex is dating somebody new?
- Do you only want a new relationship to prove to yourself (and others) that you are wanted and loveable?
If any of these apply to you, but you decided you are ready to get married, please think again. I’m not telling you that you necessarily need to break up with your current partner, but I am telling you that you need to pump the brakes. Instead, spend some time healing from your past relationship so that you can go into your new one with a full and open heart.You need to think about whether you are emotionally ready for a new commitment or you just don't want to be alone. Click To Tweet
2. You feel financially insecure
Relationships should not be about money. However, finances are a fact of life and dictate our everyday choices. Moreover, financial insecurity is difficult for people, particularly men. Therefore, you should consider the status of your finances as part of whether you and your partner are ready to get married.
I think this is particularly true today. Many millennials that I know, myself included, have student loan debt. I believe this is one of the reasons why millennials are getting married later in life. A recent study even found that student loans are contributing to the divorce rate. Having debt can put a financial strain on any relationship as it prevents you from making your future plans. Family goals, such as buying a house, are delayed because the money is going to your debt service.
I am not saying that people with student loan debt should not get married. I am also not saying that having debt is, by itself, a sign that you are not ready for marriage. I am saying is that you need to go into your marriage with a solid financial plan how you are going to handle your finances during your union.
Why is this so important? While money is not necessarily the cause of divorce, I do think that not being on the same page regarding your financial goals can contribute to the demise of a marriage. In a recent CNBC study, 56 percent of divorced Americans said they rarely talk about their finances with family members, versus 27 percent of all survey respondents. Do you think that a failure to address finances contributed to the end of those marriages? I think so.
Not having money causes stress. It just does. So, if your relationship is already fragile, adding in the burden of financial insecurity is only going to cause it to break.
So, what can you do about this?
Before you get married, sit down with your partner and talk about money. Show them your credit score and all your bills. Have them do the same. Be honest about the amount of debt and savings that you have. Then, talk about what your goals are. Do you want to travel the world? Buy a house? Bank everything for a grand retirement? Again, be honest.
Don’t think you can do this? Don’t want to? Then you aren’t ready to get married. Marriage is about communication. If you can’t communicate about finances, then you are setting your relationship up to fail.
3. You haven’t discussed your life goals
Financial goals are not the only long term plan that you and your partner should discuss before considering getting married. Have you talked about any of the following topics?
- Where you want to live after marriage;
- Do you want to have children and, if so, how many;
- Religious affiliation of your children;
- Parenting styles;
- Monogamy in your relationship (or not);
- Division of labor regarding household chores;
- How you are going to manage expenses and bank accounts;
Issues with extended family.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Every relationship is different. However, if you have not discussed any of the above issues, it may be a sign that your relationship has not gotten to a deeper level where you should be contemplating marriage.
Again, why is this so important? Let me give you an example.
What if you find out that your partner doesn’t want to have children after you get married and you were looking to start your own basketball team? It can cause tremendous strain on your union right from the start. Better to have this conversation now and break up, then end up in a divorce lawyer’s office because you and your spouse were not on the same page about this critical issue.
Also, if the reason that you haven’t discussed these topics is because you are afraid to, then this is also a sign that you are not ready to get married. Or at least not ready to marry the person that you are dating. Chances are, you don’t want to talk about these things because you know that you and your partner are not on the same page. And, you also know that once you have these discussions, you may both realize that and break up, causing the relationship cycle to start again.
Harsh talk time. Marrying someone who is not aligned with your life goals is a waste of time. It will only end in divorce. So, while it may be painful to break up now, it is much better to do it today than after years of marriage and perhaps even children. I assure you, the pain (and the expense) of a divorce is so much worse.Marrying someone who is not aligned with your life goals is a waste of time. Click To Tweet
4. You are not ready to be accountable
Someone that has been in a long-term committed relationship most likely enjoys being coupled up. Does this apply to you? Perhaps that is why you want or think you are ready to get married. Having a partner means that you have someone to go out to dinner with, discuss life’s problems, travel together. However, lasting relationships are not just about dinner dates and travel buddies. They also require accountability to the other person. Are you ready to be held accountable to someone? Let me explain what I mean.
When you are part of a partnership, you need to consider the thoughts, feelings and wants of the other person. For example, your partner asks you to go to a work dinner with them when you’d rather go out with friends. While going to dinner with your partner’s coworkers may sound like a bore, being there for your significant other is part of the responsibilities of a relationship. If you want to have the freedom to do what you want when you want, then perhaps a serious relationship isn’t right for you.
However, accountability goes deeper than just showing up for your partner’s work obligations. It also means making major life decisions with the other person in mind. For example, you are offered a new job in a new city. If you are truly ready to get married, you would not only talk about it with your partner but also consider their thoughts about relocating and finding work when making your decision.
You need to ask yourself: are you ready to make every major decision in your life with your partner in mind? Are you willing to compromise on things that you want to do (both big and small)? If you are not, then you are not ready to get married. Plain and simple.
5. You have unresolved personal issues
The most important relationship that you will ever have is with yourself. And, while no one is perfect, if you are not comfortable or do not love yourself, you will have a hard time having a successful marriage because you are not going into the union at your best.
Why is that so important? If you are not comfortable in your own skin, how are you going to weather the ups and downs of being married? Having unresolved personal issues will prevent you from fully being ready to partner with someone else.
Also, sometimes, when a person has unresolved personal issues, they will project them onto the other person. Meaning, they see the issues as problems that their partner has, not their own. Do you see yourself doing this? Projecting allows you to ignore your issues because you are telling yourself that they are not your problems. Ignoring these issues will only allow them to fester and strain your relationship.
By now, you may be saying, Liz, does this doom me for all time? Are you saying that I will never be ready to get married? No, but you are going to have to put in some work. I encourage you to seek the help of a therapist or a life coach to help you address these issues and change your thoughts. Until you do, you won’t be ready to get married.
6. You want to change your partner
Do you think of your partner as a used car or a fixer-upper? If your answer is a fixer-upper, that is a sign that you are not ready to get married. Stick with me; I promise that this analogy will make sense.
Let’s first take a used car. It isn’t perfect. The car may have a few miles on it, but you buy it anyway, dings and all. You don’t buy it with the thought that you are going to fix it up and make it into a car that you wouldn’t recognize. Instead, you buy it with the assumption that, with some maintenance, it is going to stay in its’ present condition.
When you buy a fixer-upper, you may like something about the property, but you assume that you are going to make major changes to it so that it becomes the home of your dreams. You plan to end up with a house that looks nothing like what you purchased.
Your partner should be like a used car. They aren’t perfect. Maybe they eat crackers in bed and are always running late. But you love them and, overall, you like who they are and would not want them to change what makes them, them.
On the other hand, if you see your partner as a fixer-upper, as something that needs a major overhaul to become “perfect,” then you are not ready to get married. Going into a marriage with the intention of changing your partner is asking for your union to fail. While there is nothing wrong with wanting someone to grow and learn new things, if you don’t fundamentally like who they are even before the marriage, then they are not the person for you. And thinking you can turn them into someone different is a very immature way to look at relationships, yet another sign that you are not ready to get married.Going into a marriage with the intention of changing your partner is asking for your union to fail. Click To Tweet
7. You feel societal pressure
The force is strong, the societal force that is. Even though millennials are getting married later in life, I still think the pull to get married because you are a certain age or because “everyone else” is doing so is still prevalent in society. Blame social media, blame your grandma. Whatever the reason, it still exists. And allowing those thoughts to play a significant role in deciding whether you want to get married shows that you are not ready to get married!
Are you over 30 and afraid that you are getting too old to get married, so you need to hurry up? Or do you think that dating is a game of musical chairs? And you are worried that you are going to be the one left standing without somewhere to sit when the music stops so you just grab any chair and sit down?
While I understand the desire to conform to society’s norms, do not do so at the expense of your happiness. You don’t want to end up with the wrong person. And selecting a partner based on something arbitrary like your age or because you are the last one in your group of friends to get married likely going to result in a wrong choice.
You will know when you are ready to get married because your reason for doing so will have nothing to do with the opinions of anyone else (even grandma). You will want to get married because you have decided that this is the person with whom you want to experience the ups and downs of life. They are the person that you know will support, love, and help you, no matter what. Is it possible that you haven’t met that person yet? Don’t settle until you do.