kissing at wedding recessional
Katie Paige Productions

The one question that most of us can relate to, whether we’re single or in a serious relationship is “how do you know if you’re marrying the right person?” It makes quite a lot of sense as to why this question would ring in our ears. After all, choosing to marry and spend your entire life with someone is one of the biggest and most impacting decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. So how do you know if the person you’re marrying is, well, right for you?

According to experts, there’s no one single answer, but you could say that most of it comes down to intuition and a true gut instinct. “We all have instinctual gut instincts—about love, relationships, people, etc.—that is described as an initial reaction or an automatic response to a person, place or situation,” explains Shelley Sommerfeldt, Psy.D., clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships. “When applying this to our romantic relationships, it's often your body's immediate response when you first meet your significant other.”

These gut instincts are absolutely worth listening to, according to Sommerfeldt, as they tell you something about what you genuinely feel when you’re around another person or in a particular situation. “It's crucial to pay attention to your body and your feelings at the moment; to ‘trust your gut’ and be more open, in-tune, and available to these reactions and following the intuition versus ignoring signs or overthinking a situation.”

Much of this gut instinct is considered to take place outside of consciousness—meaning, we’re not totally aware or in control of the feeling. In fact, research has backed up the theory that we are driven by our unconscious rather than our conscious as we imagine. “Our unconscious doesn't have language skills so we can only get feelings (gut instincts) or images (dreams, fantasies, daydreams) from it,” says Laura F. Dabney, M.D., relationship psychiatrist in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “The unconscious is not concerned about accuracy or inaccuracy—there are no right or wrong feelings or thoughts.”

Not sure what the gut instinct actually feels like? Chances are, you’ve felt it before—plenty of times. “Sometimes it can feel remarkably similar to anxiety and there will be physical manifestations such as a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach or general uneasiness, whereas sometimes it can also evoke a calming sense of peace,” explains Dr. Dabney.

When it comes to love, however, the gut instinct can be a more positive reaction, often described by couples as  just "feeling right" when they are with them or making decisions about the relationship. “For example, you may feel a sense of comfort or familiarity with them and will therefore engage or react more quickly as though not even thinking about it,” says Dr. Sommerfeldt. “On the other hand, when your gut instinct tells you that something is off or wrong, you may have a sense of hesitancy, which you may feel within your body in the form of overall discomfort with that person or situation.”

Here are 6 gut-instinct signs that indicate that you’re marrying the right person.

Comfort

One gut instinct that is worth listening to is one of warmth and comfort, according to Lisa Marie Bobby, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., dating coach, founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching, author of Exaholics and host of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. “People will often feel this way around individuals with similar values, outlooks on life, and emotionally safe people who are generally trustworthy,” she says. “This quiet, subtle feeling is easily overlooked because it can register as ‘boring’ to people who have been culturally programmed to look for the ‘zing’ of ‘love at first sight,’ but this can open the door to the process of finding out who they really are, and allowing the genuine connection, trust, and yes, love, to develop over time.”

Familiarity

When you have a positive gut reaction that you are marrying the right person, Sommerfeldt notes that you may feel a sense of familiarity. “People often describe this as feeling as though they've known the person forever,” she says. “This could also include a sensation of ‘deja vu’ or feeling your interactions or sensations are familiar to you.”

Security and Trust

Another crucial gut instinct Sommerfeldt recommends paying close attention to is when you feel a sense of safety, security, and trust with another person. “This feeling of trust adds a foundational element in a marriage critical to emotional connection and nourishes feelings of love and intimacy in the relationship,” she says. “Immediately feeling that you can trust your partner is also encouraging for the openness and bond in the relationship and tends to lead to better communication and connection.”

Empathy

If you feel as though you can truly empathize with your partner, meaning that you can understand their feelings and where they are coming from in certain scenarios, and that they can do the same for you, it is a great sign, according to Dr. Dabney. “Empathy means being capable of connecting with a person and respecting their needs and wants, even if they may not completely understand them,” she says.

Commitment

If you and your partner both value commitment over more temporary things like perfection or beauty, Dr. Dabney notes that it’s a good sign that you’ll have a happy marriage. “Getting a sense of someone's loyalty and commitment in other areas of life can often lead to a gut instinct about how committed they will be in marriage,” she says. “It can signal that they can stay loyal even when something becomes difficult for them.”

Desire to Just Be

If you feel like you always want to be around your partner—or at least most of the time—that’s a great sign. While you may each have your own work and personal circles, if you enjoy spending time together in the most simplest ways, like sitting down on the couch together at the end of a long day or on the weekend when it’s rainy, you should follow your gut and say “yes” to forever.