Now that marriage equality has passed, many of us are tempted to get married quickly – to avoid the laws being reversed. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same liberty that heterosexual couples have – we can’t just get divorced and leave it at that. Every divorce in the queer community “validates” someone who opposed gay marriage in the first place, and that’s a statistic we really can’t afford to be a part of – no matter how wrong it might be.
If you want to make sure you’re getting married for the right reasons, go through this list with your partner – you should be able to answer almost every question. Expect a little hesitation on some; after all, no one is perfect, and the human brain is full of doubts. But if you find yourself struggling with every question, or a large majority, maybe your relationship shouldn’t take the next step.
1. Are you willing to be the best version of yourself?
As romantic as it is to think that you’re perfect just how you are, and as much as you want your partner to think you’re already perfect… Truthfully, you’re not, and you need to understand that. There’s a big problem if you’re convinced that you don’t need to change. No one is perfect, and everyone has room for improvement.
2. What could you be doing better?
In order for a relationship to be ready to progress to marriage, both partners will need to focus on improving themselves – not how to improve each other. No one will really change unless they actually have the motivation to change, so if you can’t identify any weaknesses in your loving style, you’re probably not loving her to the best of your ability. No one is perfect – and marriage is a constant journey of self-improvement.
3. Does she make you better or worse?
There’s this romanticized image of the whole “bad girl vibe”, but really, if you’re with a self-proclaimed “bad girl”, you’re probably going to get hurt. Make sure the person you’re going to marry is someone who actually makes your life better. She should also motivate you to do better – the woman for you is the one who will be your cheerleader when you need it the most.
4. Do you fully accept each other – flaws and all?
Just because she wants you to do and be your best, that doesn’t mean that she is allowed to have problems with you on a personal level. Everyone is unique, so if either of you is expecting the other to conform to your personal idea of “perfect”, there’s a problem.
5. Will you stick it out through the tough times?
Things are going to be hard sometimes – and there are going to be times when you want to throw your hands up and be done with the whole situation. Are you willing to push yourself through those hard times for the eventual sunshine on the other side?
6. Will you comfort her when she cries?
Not every day is going to be happy – and being able to be someone’s metaphorical shoulder to cry on is a huge part of a happy relationship. Note that I didn’t say you’ll fix all her problems – it would be unfair for either of you to expect that. You can help her through her dark times without being her light and savior.
7. Do you love her, and are you willing to make sure the love sticks around?
Falling in love happens by chance – but staying in love happens by choice. It will take a great amount of effort to love her 50 years from now, just the same as you love her now. If you’re not ready to make your love for her a priority in life, you’re not ready to get married.
8. Who are you, by yourself?
If you don’t know who you are on your own, you’re not going to be a good partner – no exceptions. You need to fully understand yourself and be able to come up with a short description of what you do, what you want to do, and your personal goals. No one else can answer this one for you.
9. Does this relationship make you happy?
Nothing is going to make you happy 100% of the time, but your relationship should have more happiness than sadness – otherwise, you’re better off single. It’s actually scientifically proven that a woman in an unhappy relationship is going to be less healthy and happy overall – so make sure your relationship really is bringing out the best.
10. Do you feel happy when you wake up next to each other?
Whether the two of you live together yet or not (I strongly believe you should live together before you decide you want to get married, but not everyone feels the same way), you need to know that seeing her face is going to make you happy – even if she gets to sleep in and you don’t. Does she make you happy when you’re half asleep?
11. Do you feel trapped? Does she?
There’s a big to-do about staying in a relationship because you’ve invested time in it. But, realistically, this isn’t a good foundation for your relationship. That time will never be returned to you, so staying in a relationship just because you’ve put so much into it is a sure way to set yourself up for lifelong disappointment. If it feels like an obligation, you’re not going to magically be satisfied in the future – get out before it goes too far.
12. Are we partners, or just girlfriends?
In a happy, healthy relationship, both partners will be equals. Maybe you subscribe to some traditional roles in your relationship, but in terms of expectations and compromise, you should both be represented in a way that feels fair to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean 50-50, but it should be balanced in terms of your own needs – both of your needs.
13. Do you have fun together?
Just like the happiness question, it’s not going to be fun all the time, but the two of you should be able to have a good time and make each other laugh. Otherwise, the whole thing will feel like work, and it doesn’t really matter who you marry.
14. Do you have fun when we’re not together, too?
If either of you is dependent on the other person for your happiness, you’ll never truly be happy. You need to be your own person, and you need to be able to spend time apart without being sad about it!
15. Does she let you be yourself?
Relationships require compromise, but you should never feel that you’re compromising parts of yourself. If she’s pruned away something important to you, is it worth it to say goodbye to that part of your life forever, or would you be happier single and free to be yourself? (Hint: You should always pick B.)
16. Why are you in this relationship?
There aren’t exactly right and wrong answers here, but exploring why you’re in a relationship will help you decide if it’s worth being in it or not. If you feel like you’re only in the relationship because it’s easier than breaking up, you’re definitely letting yourself – and your partner – down.
17. What does the future hold?
Not everyone has a concrete plan about what the future holds for them, but some of us do – and it’s not good to live entirely in the now. You should know where the relationship is headed, and you should both be on the same page. You should be confident that your future plans align with one another, without necessarily being exactly the same.
18. Are you growing together or apart?
People change over time – it’s inevitable, and that’s a good thing. But not everyone will grow in the same direction. Are you and your partner still going the same way, or has one of you detoured? It’s possible to get back on track once you’ve gone apart, but it’ll take a steady effort from both of you, and you’ll need to make sure you’re back on the same page before you say “I do”.
19. Do you believe you can create the life you want with this woman?
This is something we often overlook – is your dream future actually with her, or is she just a fill-in? The perfect woman to marry will have a similar vision, and the two of you will work together to create it.
20. Do you share the same core values?
Your opinions are one of the areas you’re definitely going to disagree on sometimes, but the important issues – the ones you live and die for – should be aligned. If you’re afraid to even talk about the big issues, you’re not right for each other. Try to have the talk now, and see if you were hiding things for no reason. If it turns into a big thing, it’s better to get out than to keep your feelings bottled up indefinitely.
21. Do you support her passions?
You don’t have to share them, or even understand them. I get pretty passionate about schedules and planners and journals, where my girlfriend would rather live each day completely separate from past and future events. But she supports my planning nature, and she allows me to plan for her a little, too. (It brings me joy.) The woman you’re meant to marry is going to have her own things that are important to her. Can you stick by them?
22. Do you trust her?
Trust is one of the most important components in a healthy relationship, and while insecurities are sure to arise from time to time, you should generally trust the things your partner tells you. If your partner has destroyed your trust, or if your trust is still damaged from a previous partner, you’re probably not going to last very long – better to save your money and not get married.
23. Is she a good person?
We tend to back our girlfriends up, no matter what, but realistically we can tell if they’re good people or not. Would you stick up for her even if you weren’t romantically involved? Knowing what you know about her now, would you have still gone on that first date, if you had to do it all over again?
24. Are you attracted to her?
Your partner doesn’t need to be exactly your type – after all, this is usually a pretty arbitrary guess about what we really want. But you shouldn’t be in a relationship with someone you’re not attracted to. This attraction isn’t necessarily on the physical level – in fact, it shouldn’t just be on a physical level – but it should still be there.
25. Are you her partner or her parent?
The letters may be the same, but the feelings couldn’t be more different. Taking care of your partner is all good and well, but if you feel like you have to raise her – for whatever reason – you will grow tired of it after a while. Imagine having kids with this person – would she help you out, or would she just be another child to take care of?
26. Is she your parent or partner?
It needs to go both ways. You should both be taking care of each other, and on fairly equal ground as far as maturity goes. Neither of you should feel the need to handle business on behalf of the other one. Trust me, it’ll get old – fast.
27. Will you take care of her when she’s sick?
I know I said that you shouldn’t be someone’s mother – but you should feel comfortable taking care of her when she needs it. Would you be willing to help her recover after a surgery, or even just a common cold? If the thought of helping her recover is not a pleasant one, she’s not the one for you.
28. Does she back you up?
You’re going to disagree sometimes – that’s a given. But you should be confident that your partner would have your back if you needed her to. She should support you and be on your team – even when you’re apart. If you rise together and fall alone, you’re doing it wrong.
29. Do you worry about a future without her?
It’s important that you want your partner to be a firm fixture in your life, and you should be willing to do what it takes (within reason) to make sure she stays. But you shouldn’t worry that things are temporary. If it doesn’t feel permanent, it might not be – so pay attention!
30. Do you feel lucky to have her in your life?
In a perfect marriage, both partners will feel like the other is out of their league – but neither should feel like they are superior, in any way. Maybe one of you is better at that one thing than the other one is, but you should celebrate these things – not compare who’s better at what. Take her strengths as your collective strengths. After all, she’s there to lift you up.
31. Are you willing to look past her mistakes?
Since no one is perfect, it’s understandable that there are going to be mistakes sometimes. You should be able to say with absolute certainty that her little mistakes won’t be held against her forever. There are, of course, big mistakes that are hard to look past – but these mistakes are generally the downfall of a relationship anyway and shouldn’t be looked past. There is a fine line between “ride or die” and “sticking around for a trainwreck”.
32. Do you want to marry her, or do you think you have to?
Some people get engaged because it’s the “next logical step” in their relationship. But, realistically, not every relationship is supposed to end up in marriage. There are some people who have pledged lifelong devotion to each other but never been legally married. Likewise, there are marriages that only lasted a few months. Obviously, “commitment” and “marriage” are not mutually exclusive. Do you actually want to pledge your life to this woman, and get the government involved, or do you just think you need to because “that’s what you do”? If it’s the latter, rethink your situation – is she worth all this trouble for something you don’t even want?
33. How does this situation make you feel?
Your intuition is one of the best tools in your arsenal, so to speak – go with it. If your gut tells you this relationship is wrong (for example, if you’re not actually going through this list with your partner, but by yourself, because you’re afraid of what you’ll find out), it’s probably best to listen to it. Either the relationship really is wrong, or you have too many insecurities to be in a relationship right now.
34. Did you actually answer these questions together?
If you were afraid to go through this list with your partner, for whatever reason, the two of you don’t belong together. Part of your brain probably already knew this, which is why you didn’t want to go over it together. Right? There shouldn’t be any secrets between you and your future spouse – and that includes doubts about the relationship. If you’re not confident that your relationship is meant to stand the test of time, it’s probably not, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s only wrong if you’re denying your incompatibility – no one deserves to be lied to, even to save their feelings.