You've been dating pretty seriously for a while now. You're really into this guy. He's attractive, he's funny and he seems to "get you." You know he feels strongly about you, too, so now you're wondering if you are truly ready for the next big step of in your relationship: marriage.
As much as Hollywood likes to sell us on the love-at-first-sight romance movies filled with cute one-liners and happy-ever-after ending, real life doesn't work that way. Marriage is a huge commitment. Sometimes while dating one or both partners have a tendency to ignore red flags or think, "After we get married, those things will just sort themselves out." If you are seriously considering tying the knot with the man in your life, here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure he is "the one."
Does he have goals and ambitions?
When you commit to spending the rest of your life with someone, you not only commit to him, but his work ethic, his time management and how those things will affect your future family. Does he take his job or goals in life seriously? Is he wise with his time and money? Does he set goals or have a plan of what he wants to do with his life?
Yes, life happens and the economy isn't perfect. but if you feel he's lazy, often blows off work obligations or is unable to hold down a job, those things are a major red flags. In this case, you will want to reassess your relationship.
How does he behave under stress?
Particularly in the beginning of a relationship, we are all on our best behavior — especially when we're really into someone. We tend to hide some of our shortcomings and character flaws. Try to take note of how your guy reacts in a variety of situations. It's easy to smile and put on your best self when you're enjoying a nice dinner together or taking long walks on the beach. How does he react when he has a pressing deadline or he's stuck in rush hour traffic? Can he keep his cool in difficult situations or is he easily provoked?
Keep in mind we are all human and it's impossible to find someone who is happy 100 percent of the time. Bottom line: Find someone who can roll with the punches, who lessens not adds to your own stress, and doesn't make you feel like you're walking on eggshells when problems arise.
How does he handle conflict in the relationship?
When you have a difference of opinion or misunderstanding, does he shut you out or does he want to talk things through? Does he try to validate your feelings or is he more concerned about being right? Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. You take two people with different backgrounds and personalities and there will inevitably be a disagreement at some point. I like these words by Family Advocate Bruce C. Hafen in regards to conflict: "The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful marriage is not in whether there are such times of tension, but in whether and how the tensions are resolved."
Does he give you wings or suffocate you?
When you tell him about being accepted into a masters program or how you would love to get into photography, does he encourage and support you? Does he make you feel capable and strong or does he belittle your aspirations and feel threatened by your successes? Especially when it comes your dreams, you want someone who will buoy you up, not hold you back from all you can become.
Does he have any addictions?
Pornography, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use and wasting large amounts of time playing video or computer games are several huge red flags. Be wary of someone who may be hiding such behavior and don't turn a blind eye if you suspect something is amiss. You don't want to marry someone who you think you can fix or who exhibits reckless or impulsive behavior. This is your life and happiness at stake. Bringing uncontrolled addictions into a marriage is just a recipe for misery and guarantees a life of hardship.
Does he respect you?
This one is a biggie. Sometimes we can mistake our partner's feedback as constructive criticism, when really it's just a sneaky way of saying, "I want you to be, act or look a certain way." When you offer your opinion, is he sarcastic or condescending? Or, do you feel heard and valued? Do you feel you have to act or look a certain way around him to feel loved or accepted? When considering your future spouse and father for you children, choose someone who will treat you as his equal, who will respect you as his partner, lover and friend.
Probably one of the best indicators of knowing if he is your Mr. Right is that you feel like a better person for knowing him. Yes, his text messages give you butterflies and his hugs and kisses make you melt like butter. But do you truly cherish and enjoy your time together and do you feel like he builds you up and brings out your best qualities? Are you a happier, more complete person because he is a part of your life?
Marriage takes work, it takes commitment and a high degree of patience and tolerance from both partners. Don't get so caught up in the idea of marriage that you don't stop to evaluate the person with whom you will share everything emotional, mental and physical. When considering whether your man is truly marriage material, remember these wise words from Family Advocate David O. McKay: "During courtship we should keep our eyes wide open, but after marriage keep them half-shut."