What to Do When You’re Not Ready to Get Married
This topic – what to do when you’re not ready to get married – seems like a no-brainer. I mean, if you’ve already figured out that you’re not ready to get married, then what advice do you need? Don’t get married if you’re not ready. Congratulations! You’ve already solved the hardest problem, which is figuring out if you’re ready to get married.
There are several situations, though, where there might be some difficulty. Often, we feel tense and experience stress when what we feel on the inside, e.g., “I’m not ready to get married,” conflicts with some outside pressure. Perhaps it’s a handsome suitor on bended knee offering a sparkly ring and saying, “Will you marry me?” Or maybe it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend issuing an ultimatum of some sort – “If we don’t get married soon, this relationship is going to end.” Pressure can come from all sorts of places, whether from someone who wants to marry you, or from friends, or family who think you need to “settle down,” or from the expectations of society, which, even in the 21st century, can be demanding.
Let’s start with the easiest situation. You’re single, not involved in a serious relationship, and you’re not ready to get married. All good, right? In this case, you’re doing fine. It’s good for you to date different people, to have lots of different types of social experiences, both with friends and with romantic partners, and to enjoy your life. Keep learning new things, keep your mind active, get out and do plenty of things with people so that you get to know many different types of personalities. All of this experience will help you, over time, to figure out if you someday want to get married, and what type of person you’d like to be married to. Give yourself all the time you need – weeks, months, years – to figure out what you want. Listen to yourself.
What if you’re in a serious or at least a long-term love relationship? This is a bit more complex, because another important person is involved, and you need to be aware of and be respectful of that person’s feelings while also honouring your own. Although in many relationships there’s somewhat of an automatic expectation that “First comes love … then comes marriage …” don’t let yourself be pushed towards something you don’t want or aren’t ready for. Your partner may ask you sometimes, “Where is our relationship going?”
If that happens, be honest with them. After all, you’re in an intimate relationship, and intimacy is based on honesty and being truthful with each other. So if you aren’t ready to get married, be sure to say so – not in a harsh or cruel way, but in an honest and loving way. The two of you are in a partnership, so clear communication is important. You’re working together to build a happy, healthy relationship. That’s hard enough to do even if you’re honest with each other. If you start lying to protect your partner’s feelings, or to avoid uncomfortable feelings in yourself, then it gets far more difficult.
Keep “checking in” with yourself periodically to see if your feelings about marriage are changing. One good way to think of it is to give yourself a percentage score from 1 to 100. How ready are you to get married? Ten percent means you aren’t really ready at all. Fifty percent means you’re on the fence. Sixty percent means you’re leaning towards marriage, but you still have some doubts and fears.
Make sure you understand that your score will never get to 100! Even the most blissful brides and grinning grooms at the altar still have a few tiny doubts inside, even on their wedding day. That’s just human nature. Don’t worry about that.
If you need to, write down a list of all the positive things you can think of about being married, and then another list of all the negative things, whatever fears and concerns and doubts you may have. Do this every so often and then give yourself that percentage score. If your score ever gets up above, say, 75 percent, then you might consider that you’re “ready” for marriage. Being 75 percent ready to get married is a pretty strong percentage.
This sort of process also applies if you’re in a high-pressure situation, whether someone’s proposed and is awaiting your answer, or whether outside pressures from friends or family are affecting you. The only difference is you are feeling more stress.
Don’t let that pressure of other people’s expectations railroad you into making a major decision that isn’t right for you. It’s not easy to do, but you must make a heroic effort to be true to yourself.
If you aren’t ready to get married, then you aren’t ready. Be honest with your friends, family, or partner. Try to avoid saying this during the heat of an argument. If you do get into a tense or loud situation, take a deep breath and stick to your simple, honest statement – “I’m not ready to get married.”
You are not obligated to justify yourself in detail to anyone. You don’t have to explain to them why you aren’t ready. After all, you may not know yourself why you aren’t ready. So often we have emotions and we don’t know exactly where they come from. Don’t get drawn into a defensive debate with other people about your reasons for not being ready. Stick to that honest truth: “I’m not ready to get married.” Respect your own feelings and require other people to respect them, too. It may not always be easy, but it is by far the best path to take.