25 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged
How to Determine if Your Partner’s The One
Do you bring out the best in each other?
This is the “first and foremost” thing to ask yourself: “Do you bring the best out in each other easily and effortlessly?” – Dr. Dar Hawks, relationship coach
Do you like who you are with your partner? Do you like the person you bring out in your partner? You and your partner should inspire each other to be your best and support each other’s endeavors and goals, personally and professionally.
Do you get along with each other’s friends and family?
“Do your friends and family like him - and vice versa? The people who care about you the most will give you their honest opinion. You may not think that getting along with your in-laws is a huge deal, but they will be a part of your life—‘til death do you part!” – Rachel Thomasian, licensed marriage and family therapist
Do you fight fair?
“It's important to know how to fight. No cheap punches, no kitchen sinks, no bringing up things that happened three years ago. Make sure both of you are able to have a disagreement in a respectful way, while having both of your voices heard.” – Thomasian
Do you want to change your partner?
“What you see is what you get. Don't think you'll change your partner once you're married. If he does things that make you want to pull your hair out it's time to ask, ‘Can I live with him exactly as he is for the rest of my life?’ If not, it's time to move on.” – Angela Wilkinson, dating coach and relationship therapist
Is your partner trustworthy?
“Find out if he's trustworthy; actions speak louder than words. If he makes more promises than he is able to follow through with, consider it a red flag.” – Thomasian
Have you talked about money?
“Have you both talked about money in detail? Will you jointly handle the finances and be open about it?” – Hawks
You need to know how your finances will be handled. Who will pay the bills or how will they be divided? Will you have joint checking accounts? Don’t forget to discuss debts you both may have—student loans, credit card debt, or car payments.
If you or your partner is bringing any large assets into the marriage—inheritance, trust funds, property—this would be the time to discuss whether you will keep the funds as “mine” or if they become “ours.” Get it all out on the table before you tie the knot and make sure that you feel comfortable living with whatever compromise the two of you make.
Do you agree on your future location?
Much like you should agree on your "big picture" items, you should also agree on roughly where you would like to physically be in the first few years of your marriage. If you want to move to a different city or embark on a career that may uproot you, your partner should know these things before you think about marriage.
Don’t forget to discuss how and where holidays will be spent, especially if you have family in different places.
Is there open communication in your relationship?
“Before getting engaged make sure you're comfortable discussing difficult and often avoided topics. If there's anything you haven't discussed, now is the time. Open communication is key to a healthy and long lasting relationship.” – Wilkinson
Can he compromise?
How well does he compromise on small things? How he handles little compromises may not feel like a big deal, but expect his ability to compromise on small things to translate to bigger issues. He needs to be able to compromise, and how you react to his compromises (or lack thereof) will set a precedent for your dynamic.
Is he clean or messy?
If you’re not living together yet, chances are he tidies up a bit before you come over. If he’s secretly a quasi-hoarder, or perhaps, bleaches his tiles every other night, those will be traits he’ll be bringing into your new home. And if you aren’t cool with it, we promise that it’ll quickly start wearing on you. On the flipside, you need to make him aware and comfortable with your threshold for messiness.
How do you handle chores?
It may seem trivial, but guess what? If your partner is still dropping laundry off at his mom’s house, he’s certainly not going to be washing his own clothes when you’re married—you will. Make sure you agree on chores, helping around the house and meal preparation routines.
If you don’t see yourself as a “suzy-homemaker” type, don’t lead your future husband on to make him believe you will be one when you get married.
Are you excited or anxious?
“It's normal to have questions and mixed feelings. The key is that you feel excited more than anxious. As long as you do, know that you're on the right track. If not, allow yourself the space and time you need to get clear on what's best for you.” – Wilkinson
Does your partner have a healthy family relationship?
“Does he have a healthy relationship with his family? Do you? If not, do you feel that you can handle the unhealthy relationship for the life of your relationship?” – Hawks
Does he have a jailbird past?
You love your boyfriend for the man he is now, but you need to know if he has ever spent time in the slammer before you sign-up for marriage. This should matter to you because if your boyfriend has been arrested, it may hold back what college and graduate programs he can attend, what jobs he can get and thus what future you two can create.
Do you have fun?
“Make sure you have fun together and you bring out the best in each other. These two things will keep the love alive for years to come!” –Thomasian
How does he treat the women in his life?
Take a look at how your partner treats the top women currently in his life—his mom, grandma, or sisters. It can be a good clue as to how he treats and respects women, and in turn how he will treat and respect you.
Do you agree on children?
It’s not as simple as, “Do you want to have kids?” You also need to discuss how many kids you want to have, when you want to start having them, if you think you should be a stay-at-home mom or not (or if he should be a stay-at-home dad), how you will treat discipline with your children, etc. If you’re of different religions—or even denominations—you want to make sure you’re on the same page as to under what religion the children would be brought up.
Are you on the same page about sex?
“Have you talked about sex and intimacy needs so that you are both clear about them?” – Hawks
You should be comfortable enough with your partner to discuss your needs in and out of the bedroom. A good sex life is a crucial part to maintaining a healthy relationship and marriage.
Are you happy when you’re together AND apart from your partner?
“Do you feel good both when you are with him and when you are apart? Do you feel centered and grounded in your relationship or do you feel insecure?” – Hawks
If you’re not happy with yourself alone, you won’t truly be happy with your partner. You should feel comfortable with your relationship whether you’re miles apart or hanging out on the couch on a Sunday afternoon. Be content to do things separately from your partner so that you don’t lose yourself and your unique, shining qualities in the relationship.
Are you truly in touch with yourself?
“It is important that you are the ‘right partner’ before searching for a ‘right partner.’ What this means is understanding your own history, vulnerabilities, hurts, any potential unresolved pain in your heart from your past.” – Janie Lacy, licensed mental health counselor and certified sex addiction therapist
Do you know your partner’s weird habits?
This is not exactly a deal breaker, but realize that if you’ve waited to live together until getting engaged, you’ll be learning a whole bunch of weird habits your partner has been hiding. He might refuse to completely finish a container of anything in the fridge, sleep at subzero temps, and we won’t even get into all those weird bathroom habits…
Are you best friends?
We’re not saying you should be heading to the salon together for couple’s mani-pedis every Saturday—save that for the girls—but you should be uber close with your potential fiancé. It’s important that you like actually spending time with your boyfriend—in and out of the bedroom. When you have that solid foundation of friendship, the relationship potholes will be easier to glide over.
Are you comparing your relationship to others?
Realize that your relationship is unique and you should not expect it to be like anyone else’s. So, for example, if your parents are divorced, it doesn’t mean you will end up divorced; and vice-versa: if your parents have been together forever, sadly it doesn’t mean your relationship will be as successful. Acknowledging this before getting engaged with set you on the right path.
Are you expecting magic?
So after all of this soul searching, if you believe your partner is the one and you’re prepping yourself for engagement, heed this advice:
Blame the movies or whatever, but many women have grandiose expectations of the magical moment when their partner proposes (and even see the quality of the proposal as a sign of the quality of his love). Those expectations are bound to set you up for disappointment.
So before actually getting engaged, forget your expectations for the actual proposal. Simply enjoy your proposal and engagement for the unique, special event it is for you and your partner.
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