You might love him, but it can be difficult to know if you love him enough to spend the rest of your life with him, especially when everyone from your mom to the latest romantic comedy actress is sending you the message that you need to get married soon. Figure out if this is just cold feet, or if you’re headed down the wrong path, by separating your love for him from the marriage messages.
Know His Flaws
Will you love him when he doesn’t change? One common mistake that young people make when they’re getting married is thinking that they can change their partners, says Marie Hartwell-Walker of "PsychCentral." Your partner is not likely to change, so you should only marry him if you can accept his flaws and stay with him regardless. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should settle for someone rude, unhygienic or creepy, according to Julie Baird of "Newsweek." Baird was refuting the famed advice of Lori Gottlieb, who advised young women to settle for lesser men or spend their lives alone in her book "Marry Him." Don’t settle for someone you secretly want to change.
Have you tested your independence? Some couples have been together for so long that marriage seems like the expected next step. Your families may be pressuring you to get married, and you might feel that it just “makes sense.” But if that nagging feeling in your gut is actually fear, you might want to take some time to figure out who you are without him. If you’ve never committed yourself to any significant endeavor that didn’t involve your boyfriend, you might be marrying too early, says Hartwell-Walker. She points out that often couples grow apart in their twenties, so it’s important to know who you are without him before you commit to an entire life with him.
Stand By Him
Can you stick together in the worst of times? Marriage vows are for better or worse, for richer or poorer. Consider whether you would still love him as much if he developed a severe health problem or went bankrupt. Mature couples are those who make a commitment with their eyes open to each other’s flaws and life’s uncertainty. If your bond to him will carry you through the worst of times, you love him enough to marry him.
Marry Him for Him
Does he represent an escape? Hartwell-Walker offers an example of a young girl who marries her teenage boyfriend right out of high school to escape an abusive home life. Although a husband might represent an escape from a family of origin, marriage doesn't mean "happily ever after" in real life. There are other ways to escape an abusive home life, including leaning on friends, going to school, or otherwise developing an independent life. You also might be using marriage as an escape if you're afraid of being alone, or if you think you're "too old" to be single. Marriage won't solve all of your problems, so it's important to marry for love and not for other reasons.
Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.