So, you're considering marriage. There's so much to think about: the wedding, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the honeymoon...oh, and the 50-plus years of sharing your lives. Can't forget about that.
Deciding to get married is one of the most important decisions a couple will make together. Before making the decision, take an honest look at yourselves as individuals and as a couple and talk together about how you see your future. Take advantage of information, tips and resources to help guide you through the decision making process. The information below can help.
Reasons you may be thinking about marriage
There are many reasons a couple may want to get married. The important thing is to recognize which reasons are the right reasons, and which reasons are not enough to make a lifelong commitment. Marriage may be right for both of you if:
- You can imagine yourself together far into the future.
- You share the same basic values.
- You feel the same way about having children and agree on how to raise them.
- You feel that you bring out the best in each other.
- You respect and appreciate each other.
- You communicate well with each other.
You should think especially hard about whether marriage is the right decision if:
- You think marriage will change you or your boyfriend or girlfriend. Keep in mind that marriage won't change anything. In fact, it may make matters worse by raising the stakes for each of you.
- You want your girlfriend or boyfriend to be eligible for your military benefits. While this is certainly tempting, by itself it's not enough reason to enter into a legally binding contract with another person.
- You are afraid your relationship will fall apart during deployment if you don't marry. If you doubt your relationship will last a separation, it probably won't last a lifetime.
Long deployments, separations and other military obligations bring challenges that civilians don't face. If you’re thinking of marrying a service member, keep the following in mind:
- Be prepared to spend a lot of time without your spouse. You may be separated for months at a time, including during holidays, birthdays, family events and the inevitable crises of family life.
- Make sure you can handle finances, home maintenance and repairs alone.
- Make sure you are ready to move often and possibly see less of your family.
- Be prepared for certain obligations to military readiness groups. You'll also need to adapt gracefully to new social situations, make new friends and get involved.
Questions to ask yourself before getting married
Following are some questions to help you decide if you're compatible in each of these areas.
Communication and trust:
- Will you make important decisions together, including military career decisions, such as whether to re-enlist?
- Have you discussed and agreed on your long-term plans?
- Do you trust each other? Military marriage requires more blind trust than your average marriage. Are you confident that both of you will be faithful during separations?
- Do you share the same expectations of physical intimacy?
- Do you tell each other when you are upset about something and try to resolve the matter in a way that respects the other's feelings and viewpoints?
- Is either of you quick to lose your temper? Do you argue over petty matters? Married couples fare better when they recognize what's worth arguing about and what's not.
- Do you criticize one another in public? This is a sign of disrespect and should be treated as a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship.
- Does either of you tend to bring up past mistakes? A good way to get along is to leave the past alone and focus instead on the present and the future.
Career and finances:
- Do you trust each other with money? Will you be comfortable sharing a checking account and credit card?
- Do you have similar financial goals? Have you discussed savings and investments?
- Do you agree on whether you should both work? What about after you start a family?
- Is the nonmilitary partner's career flexible enough for a military marriage? You need to weigh your career decisions against marriage decisions.
Home and family life:
- Have you discussed when to start a family? Do you agree on the number of children you would like?
- Do you agree on how to raise and discipline children?
- Do you agree on the role religion or spirituality will play in your lives and the lives of your children?
- How do you feel about each other's family and friends? They'll be part of your life after you are married.
- Do you agree on housekeeping issues, such as how tidy your home should be kept? Do you agree about owning pets?
No one should rush into a marriage. You need to take an honest look at yourself, your relationship, and what each of you expects. If you go into a marriage prepared for the future, you are more likely to enjoy a strong and healthy relationship.