To say getting engaged is a huge step really does feel like a bit of an understatement. Deciding that you have found your person and are ready to throw in the towel can happen on a whim or after years of dating and careful deliberation, but either way, it's important to ensure that your relationship is ready for what many say is the ultimate test. So how can you tell that you and your partner are ready to get engaged? Well, "ready" can look different for each couple, depending on where each partner is in their life and what their views on marriage are.
While more and more younger couples are starting to adopt less traditional approaches to settling down, marriage still seems to be a major option for a lot of people. While being engaged may seem like just a brief prelude to the real commitment, once you start down the path of high-level commitment, it can be really difficult to dial it back while still preserving the relationship as it is. So before you and your bae consider taking the next step, it's a good idea to make sure that you've taken some time to do the following four things first.
1. You've Included Each Other In A 5-Year Plan
If you can see your partner in your life five years from now and have had multiple conversations about what you'd both like this future to look like, then that is definitely a good thing. According to relationship expert and bestselling author Susan Winter, making sure that you are both on the same page about future details regarding how your respective careers will impact one another is imperative.
"Career relocation is a real possibility. The entire family moves. And one of you would have to move your job as well," she says. "Look at every aspect that may occur and take time to discuss these possibilities now. If you and your partner are on the same page, you have a solid foundation from which to consider engagement. Don't assume that just because you get a great job, your partner will be willing to give up theirs."
2. You've Talked About Kids
Before either of you can even consider moving toward a legal partnership, talking about what your image of family life looks like is key. The biggest thing is making sure you're both on the exact same page when it come to what size of a family you want (if you want one beyond you and your partner at all).
"If you want one child and your partner wants five, you'll have a problem. Being in agreement on the number of children and having the same vision of family life is important for your relationship's success," says Winter.
And if kids are in both of your plans, it might not hurt to discuss some of your views on parenting as well. "If you're the breadwinner, is your partner willing to take a greater responsibility with the children? Hammer out these details before you choose to become engaged," Winter says.
3. You Feel Like A Team
Before going into a serious, potentially lifelong relationship, both of you should feel like you are part of a team, approaching obstacles in a similar way. Ask yourself the following about your partner: How do they deal with setbacks? Do your strengths and weaknesses complement one another? Do you have a healthy and sustainable dynamic? Do you both feel fully supported? If you can say with certainty that you can't imagine a better teammate in times of struggle than your SO, this is definitely a sign you guys may be ready to move forward as a unit.
4. You Know How To Communicate With Each Other — Seriously And Romantically
Last but certainly not least, do you and your partner speak the same love language? And if not, are you at a point in your partnership where you have learned what adjustments need to be made for you both to feel loved, valued, and romanced? If forever is on the table for you two, a big part of keeping a relationship strong is being able to maintain a romantic spark.
Only you and your SO will know for sure if you are ready to open up a new chapter together. And even if it turns out that you aren't ready at the moment, that definitely doesn't mean that you guys can't seal the deal later down the line.
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