If you're in a serious relationship and suspect that you might be headed for marriage, there are a few questions you can ask your partner to help determine if you’re both prepared to move forward as a couple. But prior to getting engaged, there are also several things you should know about yourself before you can commit to a lifelong partner. Understanding your individual needs and what makes you tick, from your money habits to your thoughts on family planning, is just the first step toward finding yourself in a happy, healthy marriage down the road.
Think you’re ready to get engaged? Here are seven things you should know about yourself first.
Your Love Language
Your love language — how you like to express and receive love — is one of the most important things you should know about yourself before getting engaged. Determining your love language can be a total game-changer in any relationship, but it’s especially crucial if you’re thinking about getting engaged in the near future. There are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch, and their importance ranks differently for everyone. Understanding how you “speak” love will help you solidify your primary needs, which you can then vocalize to your partner. For example, if your language is “acts of service,” you’ll want to make it clear to your future spouse that helping with household chores or running errands is the best way to make you go weak in the knees. It’s also a great idea to find out what your partner’s love language is, since embracing their needs and relationship habits will help you become a better spouse in the long run.
Your Spending Habits
Maintaining a healthy balance of spending and saving is part of the whole #adulting thing, but if you’re headed for marriage, you can expect money to become an even bigger topic of conversation. Before getting engaged, it’s smart to take a closer look at your spending habits, and any areas where you could potentially improve your financial health. If you have a tendency to splurge, whether it’s on things like daily lattes, end-of-season clearance sales (guilty), or can’t-miss concert tickets, you’ll want to consider how budgeting for a wedding and getting married could affect those down the line, and vice versa. It’s also important to think about your savings goals and your approach to money in general. Are you comfortable living with a basic emergency fund, or are you the type of person who feels most secure when you’re saving as much as possible? As you and your partner plan to merge finances and build your future together, how you view money is just one of the things you should know about yourself, since it will play a major role moving forward.
How You Handle Emotions and Stress
Arguing and disagreeing with each other are inevitable parts of marriage, and from time to time, fighting with your spouse can actually help your relationship grow. But in order to have the most constructive arguments with your future spouse (that means no heartless name-calling or screaming matches), it’s wise to know the specific things that trigger you emotionally and what you need to handle the situation in your own way. Maybe you’re the type of person who handles conflict with peace and solitude rather than a rehashing of events, or maybe you rely on extra attention and cuddle time with your S.O. to help you feel better when you're stressed. On the other hand, maybe you deal with heavy emotions by being spontaneous and doing things on a whim. Either way, once you’re able to recognize these traits about yourself, it will be easier to communicate your needs to your partner in an effort to better understand each other — and hopefully prevent unnecessary arguments down the road.
Your Long-Term Goals
Long-term goals include everything from your ideal living situation to your education, career path, retirement plans, and even your hobbies. Have you always envisioned living out your golden years in the European countryside? Do you have a favorite hobby that you’d love to turn into your dream job if you had the opportunity? Not only are these the types of things you should know about yourself in order to be the best version of “you”, but it’s also necessary to share them openly in order to see how they might align with a lifelong partner.
We know it’s a cliché, but admitting your weaknesses *will* make you stronger — especially when it comes to your relationship. There’s a good chance that your partner won’t even mind your flaws or harmless-but-annoying habits (like leaving dirty shoes around the house), as long as you can own up to them and are open to change if necessary. Use your time as a pre-engaged person as an opportunity to focus on yourself and work on things you could improve, whether that’s communication skills, practicing patience, being more open-minded, or something else.
If Kids are Part of the Picture
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby… or does it? If you aren’t already a parent, deciding whether or not you eventually want children is hands-down one of the most important things you should know about yourself (and your partner) before getting engaged. If you want little ones in your future, it’s important that you clearly communicate your desire to have children, and it’s probably also worth mentioning how soon you’d expect to start. On the other hand, if you have doubts about starting a family or have already decided that it’s not for you, be honest with your partner, and don’t beat around the bush.
Your Other Passions
It’s a huge misconception that getting married means you’ll lose all sense of individuality. Yes, you’re committing your life to someone, and that probably means you’ll be spending much of your time together, but marriage shouldn’t require you to give up the things you loved when you were single. In fact, spending some time doing your own thing without your husband or wife is actually a good thing, which is why it’s important not to lose sight of whatever passion or hobby kept you busy when you first met your significant other. It might even be one of the things that made them fall in love with you!