My friend Amberly over at “A Prioritized Marriage” recently posted this list of 10 specific guidelines that would help people decide if they are/were ready for marriage, and I have to say it’s a good list:
1. Have a Concern for Each Other
This is all about not being selfish. Putting someone else’s needs before my own was quite a challenge not all that long ago. I would love to say when I first got married or even after giving birth to my first child that I had the “Ah Ha” moment and became unselfish. But it isn’t true. Nope not even close. I got much better at it after my daughter was born (something about my connection with her has always been magical), but it wasn’t really until after my divorce and meeting my husband that I finally had the moment. I can honestly say that I’m not perfect, but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my husband…or my kids…now. I can do without and go without if it means they are happy and taken care of.
2. Show Affection Toward One Another
This is probably the easiest part of marriage for both my husband and I. We have been married almost 5 years, and we still cuddle on the couch, hold hands all the time, have an active sex life (although I think both of us complain about the frequency with our wacko schedules), and sneak kisses and hugs as much as we can. Affection is definitely one of my husband’s love languages, but I believe everyone needs to know they are physically wanted by their spouse.
3. Have a Financial Plan
Now this one can be a huge PITA if it’s not handled correctly. My first marriage was a disaster in this area. My ex refused to let me handle anything related to our money. He also was a stay-at-home dad more than once, quit his job a few times, and ran us into bankruptcy less than a year after building our house. Yeah money was always an issue. In fact, finances was a big reason I stayed married to the idiot. I was so afraid I couldn’t figure it out on my own. But guess what? I did. I was able to pay back money I had borrowed from my sister, pay all my bills, and still take care of my kids. Now it wasn’t easy, but I did it. When I married my husband, he and I both knew I would have to go through bankruptcy again thanks to my divorce. That was hard, but money has not been an issue for us. We each have our own bank account, but we both have access to the other’s (which reminds me…I need to update my new account). We have a shared savings account, and we discuss all major spending before it happens. Tax returns, bonuses, or any large amounts are planned for together too. My favorite part is that we are always looking ahead with what we will do after this is paid off or this needs replaced and so forth.
4. Be Honest with Each Other Always
Honesty can be difficult for anyone, and it was a vow I made to myself after my divorce. I would never be with someone I didn’t feel like I could be honest with. Life is way too short to put up with lies and deceit. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that trust is so easy to have until it’s broken. And then it’s the hardest battle to fight to get it back.
5. Work Together
By far my favorite thing about projects is doing them with my husband. We have put together toys, built cornhole boards, hung lights, painted rooms, assembled shelves, and who knows what else, and we have done all of it together. We just work really well together. It’s always nice having someone to share the load, and it’s even better when you can get along well while sharing that load.
6. Stick Up for Each Other
Huge bonus points goes to my husband for this one. He is always the first one to stick up for me whenever anyone decides to try and tear me down. He isn’t afraid of making his point at the expense of the other person either. I know whenever we are out and about, no one will be able to say or do anything against me. I hope he knows that I always have his back too. I have no problem bragging about him or putting someone else in their place if they start to put him down. A military VA counselor once told my husband to consider me his lifetime battle buddy. That’s what battle buddies do. We have each other’s six no matter what.
7. Have Similar Values
Man this is another good one. It’s also one of the first signs I ignored when I got married the first time. I have been a born-again Christian practically my whole life. My ex was not even close until after our 3rd child was born (which I still think was a last ditch attempt to keep us together). My husband is. It’s important. In fact, it’s REALLY important. So many daily and big decisions are made based on our belief system. Making those decisions with someone who doesn’t share the same beliefs is supremely difficult.
8. Don’t Hold Grudges
Um yeah, I fail at this. All. The. Time. I still can’t stand the girl from high school who was so incredibly hateful to me. I have grown a lot since high school, and recently this whole grudges thing has been put to the test for me. I have to say while it’s a heck of a lot easier to keep being mad at someone for hurting me, I know the only way to truly be ok and regain a relationship or stop being so angry is to let it go. Yep I went there…cue the music:
9. Put Family Time First
There isn’t a single thing I would rather do on my own than with my family. Nothing. In fact, if my family can’t be involved, I generally don’t do it. Period. I haven’t done a musical with our local community theater since before my youngest was born, and it’s mostly because I don’t want to take any more time away from my family. It’s just that important to me. As it should be.
10. Love and Laughter
I can always tell when my marriage is starting to wander off the beaten path when we aren’t laughing as much. Laughter is such a great medicine. And without love, why on earth would you stay married? My husband and I have been massively tested in the 5 years we have been together, and I believe without the kind of love that we share, we wouldn’t have made it through. I cherish that we are still madly in love with each other and love to make each other laugh.
In conclusion, I was definitely NOT ready to be married the first time. What a disaster I hung on to for way too long. Eventually, I grew up, realized who I am and what I wanted out of life, and I believe I was and am absolutely ready to be married to my husband. I love you baby!