If you’ve been scouring the internet for pre-marriage advice, you’ve likely read that while a wedding is romantic, a marriage takes work. Many starry-eyed romantics have been planning their weddings since they were old enough to talk, while others may not have found their white-wedding/double-tuxedo Pinterest inspiration quite yet.
Whether you are the former or the latter, there are plenty of reasons why you should be looking up pre-marriage tips before you say “I do”.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment that, ideally, you only do once. Yes, you may be in a long-term relationship, but that doesn’t always mean you should commit the rest of your life to that person.
How do you know when it isn’t meant to be? Here are 10 pre-marriage tips on how to tell if the one you’re dating isn’t The One.
There is No Respect
Respect is critical to a successful marriage. If you can’t respect each other’s opinions and rights or find yourself or your partner rolling your eyes at one another or talking over each other, getting married should not be a topic of conversation.
Your Family and Friends Don’t Approve
If you are madly in love with your partner and your friends and family can’t seem to muster a polite smile at the mention of this person, ask yourself why. If your friends and family don’t like your spouse, they may have good reasons.
This may not be the pre-marriage advice you were hoping to hear, but it’s true. Sometimes friends and family can see things in your future-spouse that your rose-colored-glasses prevent you from picking up on. Perhaps the way they speak to you, or their wandering eye is more noticeable to those on the outside of your relationship.
Your Values Differ
Politics and religion may not be suitable dinner conversations, but they are issues that you will want to discuss with your partner. While not all couples have the same opinions and values, most agree on at least the fundamentals.
Imagine you are a feminist who wants to be a career-woman and your partner is a traditionalist who would prefer you to stay home and raise the children. Or, you are a social justice warrior and your partner is a conservative Log Cabin Republican. You may be able to gloss over these differences in the misty haze of romance while dating, but the longer you are together, the more glaring your differences will be.
You Have Intimacy Issues
A little pre-marriage advice? Sex is a big deal. An intimate connection is different for every couple. Some couples may go through hard times but are still able to use their sexual relationship as a baseline, while others may find that their sex life ebbs and flows, sometimes being passionate about one another and other times going weeks without having sex.
Sex is something you have to work at. But, if you are already having sexual issues pre-marriage, exchanging vows may not be in your future. If you have differing sexual values, kinks, or beliefs about monogamy that neither of you is comfortable compromising on, your marriage is going to be difficult.
There is One-Sided Behavior
If you are the one who always initiates conversation, does favors or apologizes, you may be in an unhealthy, one-sided relationship.
In a healthy relationship, both partners are giving each other their all. But when one person is putting more effort into their spouse’s happiness than their partner, it can leave the “giver” feeling unloved, unappreciated, and self-conscious. This is not a good foundation to start a marriage on.
There are obvious signs of abuse, such as constant name calling, degrading comments or physically aggressive behavior like hitting, slapping, or throwing things when angry. But, there are also subtle signs of abuse.
Subtle signs of abuse include withholding affection, constantly playing the victim, disguised criticism using humor, and undermining or minimizing behavior. If your partner displays one or more of these qualities, take them as clear warning signs you’re not meant to get married.
You Aren’t Your Best You
Some of the best pre-marriage tips will ask you to define how you feel when you are around your partner. Do they make you feel happy, confident, and loved, or do you find yourself feeling on edge, nervous, or sick when you’re together?
Your forever-partner should make you feel amazing. They should encourage you to follow your dreams and be an endless support system. If you are not your best self when you are around your partner, you should not get married.
You Don’t Communicate
Any pre-marriage tips will tell you that communication is the key to a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
Poor communication happens when partners are overly confrontational, shut off from one another or use the “silent treatment,” use passive aggressive behavior as punishment, or bottle up their feelings and needs. This often leads to hurt feelings and misunderstandings that can be damaging to your relationship.
If you notice that you and your spouse are having trouble communicating, you can always take steps to correct it. Do not even consider marrying someone who you cannot talk to unless you see clear progress in this area.
You Argue Constantly
Pre-marriage counselors will tell you that arguing is normal in a marriage and can even help strengthen your relationship in some respects. But if you fight about the big and little things or find yourself arguing almost constantly, it is possible you are in an unhealthy relationship. This behavior will not change just because you are married.
You Disagree About Your Future
Do you have big dreams of traveling the world, moving across the country, or starting a family? You’d better make sure your spouse is on board before you walk down the aisle.
One fundamental pre-marriage conversation you need to have with your spouse-to-be is about your future family plans. If you can’t agree on the fundamentals of where you want to live and whether you want children, you’re setting your marriage up for disaster.
If your dream is to start a family and your spouse couldn’t be more disinterested in children, don’t marry them hoping that they will change their mind. This is your future and you need to make sure you’re with someone who wants the same things that you do.
If you have big career plans that may require you to relocate but your partner has deeply rooted ties to where you currently live, this could also turn into a dividing factor.
Share your plans, dreams, and future aspirations clearly with your partner and make sure you both are on the same page before taking that huge step of walking down the aisle together.
Take these pre-marriage tips to heart. While having one or two of these warning signs may not be a reason to call off your wedding, checking off multiple red flags such as having no respect, mental or physical abuse, and the inability to communicate may be warning signs that you weren’t meant to say “I do”.