In a culture where more and more people are ditching the official papers in favor of a “non-official” lifetime commitment, the ultimate question still remains: Should couples get married, or live together in a lifetime commitment without the legal tie-ins?
A friend of mine dated his girlfriend for over 10 years. They lived together on 3 continents before he proposed. When I asked him why he waited so long, he responded, “I never saw a point in getting married until we wanted to have kids.” For him, the marriage part didn’t bring anything new to the relationship, but he did want his kids to be born in a traditional family.
Another friend declared that he would propose to his girlfriend after a year after they moved in together — and he did exactly that. I have friends who’ve been together years and years, have kids together, but never got married.
One thing IS true for most people — marriage is a big freaking deal. So before you decide to take the leap (or decide it’s not for you at all), here are a few things that need to be considered:
1. Do you see yourself creating a life with this person?
Beyond the love you feel, beyond them being sweet or loving or having amazing attributes — do you really see yourself with this person? Do you have similar visions and values about the future?
2. What’s it like when you fight?
Let’s get something clear: you will fight.You will fight about the little things and the big things. You will have moments when you’re cranky because of something totally different and you take it out on your partner. The question is, how do you fight? Do you go all out and make them feel unloved, or do you still show your love no matter how upset you are?
3. Do you both want kids?
Some people know for sure that they want kids. Others know they don’t. And others are not quite sure what they want.
Regardless of what category you fall into, make sure you’re on the same page. If you really want kids and your partner won’t hear of it, you might have an issue there.
4. Why do you want to get married?
Do you believe in marriage as a sacred commitment between two people who love each other? Do you believe it’s something you’re supposed to do? Does your religion tell you that you need to get married? Whatever your reason it; get clear about it.
5. Are you willing to create a family?
Whether your idea of family is the two of you or whether it includes kids, you have to realize that choosing someone to marry means that the two of you become a family while the rest of your family takes a secondary place.
6. Are you willing to love this person for your entire lifetime?
Marriages do fall apart at times and we have no way of knowing what will happen in the future. But right now, in this moment, as you are considering this person as your life partner, are you willing to commit to them and love them with all your heart?
Remember that choosing to marry the one you love is a lifetime commitment, so think long and hard before you take the plunge to make sure that this is the RIGHT decision for YOU.
This post originally appeared at YourTango.