- Relationship expert Andrea Syrtash shared some of the top signs that you and your partner could be ready for marriage.
- Those signs include having shared values and goals and having open conversations about sex.
- Ultimately, you and your partner are the only people who can decide whether you’re ready to commit long-term.
Today’s young couples aren’t making rash decisions when it comes to marriage.
A report by dating site eHarmony reveals that 25- to 34-year-olds across the US (not just eHarmony users) knew their partner for an average of 6.5 years before tying the knot. That’s compared to an average of five years for all age groups surveyed.
You could, theoretically, spend all of eternity trying to decide whether your partner is the right partner for you. But who has all of eternity to wait?
We asked Andrea Syrtash, a relationship expert, founder of Pregnantish, and author of “He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing)“, for the top signs that you and your partner could be ready to make a lifelong commitment to each other.
Here’s what she told us:
You’re the best version of yourself when you’re with your partner
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“It’s amazing how often we put the focus on the other person – what he or she is offering,” Syrtash said. “We don’t look at who we are with them.”
She went on: “You know you’re ready to be in a long-term partnership when you can honestly say, ‘This person is bringing out my best. I’m a good version of myself with this person.’ That’s a really good litmus test.”
Syrtash’s insights recall those of Ellen McCarthy, author of “The Real Thing” and a former weddings reporter for The Washington Post. McCarthy writes that the one word she heard couples use over and over again to describe their relationship was “comfortable.”
As McCarthy puts it, a solid partner is like a “good pair of pajamas.”
You have shared values and goals
“Hopefully, you’re not getting married or thinking about long-term commitment before you’ve talked about future goals,” Syrtash said.
Discussion topics should include kids, religion, and finances.
“If you feel that you’ve talked through significant future goals together and you’re aligned, that’s also a good sign.”
Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University, spoke with a series of older Americans for his book “30 Lessons for Loving” and learned about the importance of shared values.
One 86-year-old man told Pillemer that it’s important to find out from your partner: “What do they care about? How do they think about the world? What matters to them?“
You’ve talked openly about your finances
Money is a common source of conflict in a marriage, Syrtash said. “So we want to have open conversations before we are legally bound to each other.”
For example, is one person coming into the relationship with significant student loans or credit-card debt?
According to Michelle Brownstein, Vice President of Private Client Services at Personal Capital, every couple should have three important money conversations: how they spend and save, how they envision a potential child’s future, and whether to rent or buy a home.
You’re on the same page about whether to have kids and, if so, how you’ll raise them
Syrtash said you and your partner should be on the same page about whether to have children. What’s more, you should have an open discussion about religion – and whether you want to raise your kids to follow a particular faith.
“I hear this a lot from couples I’ve worked with,” she said. “They’re of different faiths, and they didn’t really talk about while they were dating. Then, when children come into the picture, they have to negotiate these things, and they’re like, ‘Why didn’t we ever think about this before?'”
You and your partner may also want to discuss your individual views on childrearing, since clashes around parenting styles are a common source of discord – and even divorce.
You’ve talked openly about your sexual health and sexual needs
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“It sounds very unsexy, but it’s good to communicate about sex,” Syrtash said. Specifically, does your partner have any STIs? You may also want to discuss your needs and expectations around sex.
Relationship therapist Rachel Sussman said the most common sexual problem she sees in her practice is mismatched sex drives. Typically, one person wants to have sex more often than the other, who’s either happy with the amount of sex they’re having or wants even less.
The earlier you talk about sex, the easier it’ll be spot any potential issues.
You feel like this relationship is different from all your others
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“If you aren’t overthinking it,” Syrtash said,” that’s a good first step.”
“If you’re just like, ‘Intuitively, this feels different from all my other relationships in terms of not only our connection, but our lifestyle, our trust, our respect, our shared values and goals,’ that’s certainly a sign that you’re forward-thinking.”
The bottom line
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“It’s so easy to get caught up in checklists,” Syrtash said. “Checking off all the boxes of what we think matters in a partnership or in a person.”
But she always tells the people she coaches, “You don’t marry a piece of paper. So get off the paper checklist and start paying attention to how you’re showing up. If this relationship is bringing out your best and making you feel comfortable and supported and respected, that’s really important.”