Slowing down the wedding can be painful. We’ve been there with quite a few couples. Once they have made up their minds that they want to be married, it can be full speed ahead. But is that always wise?
Yes, there are couples that have waited overly long, who have been dating or engaged for years and years. Sometimes this is because the relationship is wrong but neither person is willing to pull the plug. Other times it is because the anxiety of being sure keeps them from pulling the trigger. I am not talking about these relationships. I am concerned with the couples who are willing and able, but not ready.
What makes a couple ready to exchange rings?
- They have been honest with their expectations. We tell pre-married couples that they must assume that “what you see is what you get”. That requires that both people are accurately representing who they are and what they want. There is no bait and switch within a successful marriage.
- They are adept at managing their emotions. Emotional regulation is a key skill for a secure relationship. When conflict hits, coloring within the lines is necessary. No one wants to be in a relationship with a rageful or hysteria-driven mate.
- They are able to forgive easily. Stewing for days or even hours is corrosive in a marriage. Holding grudges or keeping score weakens the bond. The answer is to be quick to reconcile, especially the little missteps we all take.
- They are open and realistic about their challenges. It is essential to talk courageously about any concerns you have about doing life together. Avoiding painful topics doesn’t make them go away, it just delays their appearance. With good preparation you may be able to lessen the impact of the negative elements you face.
- They have talked extensively about their family systems. Our families have a huge influence on our development into adults. This is not news. We cannot separate ourselves from where we came from, although we can differentiate and leave behind some of the unwanted elements we collected along the way. Be sure you let your partner have a deep and wide view into your upbringing.
- They pursue growth and maturity in their personal lives. Couples that are not satisfied with the status quo are much more likely to succeed in marriage. They don’t want to be a twenty-year-old in a forty-year-olds’ body.
- They manage the practical side of life well. They are responsible with money and commitments and time management. They rein in their desires and provide for the future. They take their employment seriously.
- They have great attitudes. Their demeanor attracts people and they have good friends. They are trustworthy and kind. They smile a lot. They compromise.
- They treat everyone with respect. It is not only the people they like, admire or agree with that they treat well. Humility is a value they embrace.
- They follow God. He is the source from which they draw their strength in both the good times and the difficult times. As a result they love well.