Have you recently met someone, or have you been in a relationship for several years and you want to get married, but you are not sure what steps to take? Making the decision of choosing a lifelong partner can be daunting.
I’m Chase Manke, a marriage and family therapist at Cedar Tree Counseling and in this article, I’ll share three steps you can take to help you feel confident about moving your relationship towards marriage.
Step 1: Slow down. Get serious.
Choosing your lifelong partner is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. There is no rush and the more intentionality that you invest in your relationship upfront, the more secure you will feel in your relationship down the road.
For example, take time for self-reflection. Before making any long-term commitments, spend time understanding your own needs, values, and life goals.
Reflect on what you truly seek in a partner and a relationship. Is religion and faith important to you? Are having children important to you? Do you have career ambitions that are aligned?
Step 2: Craft a Vision.
First, make a list of people in your life who have been in a relationship for a long time and that you admire. When you spend time with both of them, you feel at ease. The way they interact feels incredibly healthy.
Next, note what sets them apart from other relationships you have seen. Ask them questions about how they have worked to have a healthy relationship over the years.
What is most satisfying about their relationship? How do they navigate differences and disagreement? How do they remain close? How do they resolve conflict?
Soak in the wisdom of older relationships within your reach. It’s okay to steal dreams and solutions from people who have already figured out the way to make this thing work.
What do the people you look up to say about your relationship? What do they affirm? What might they suggest as an area of dissonance or growth? Being able to receive constructive criticism is the first indicator of whether your relationship has what it takes for lifelong love.
For some of you, you may feel like you are in a desert for healthy relationships. There is not a pool of people to look to. If this is your situation, do not worry. There are still resources to look for.
For example, you can try listening to a podcast or reading a book such as The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman. Talk about the things you are learning about with your partner. Make it a weekly date to discuss hopes, expectations and concerns for the future.
Step 3: Get Premarital Counseling
A professional therapist can provide a unique space to discuss serious topics with your significant other. It may be helpful to meet with a therapist who is certified in giving premarital assessments such as Prepare & Enrich or Symbis.
A therapist can affirm your relationship’s strengths while offering a space to address parts of your relationship that have already become difficult.
If you need support as an individual or as a couple to work through planning or discerning the future, please reach out to us at Cedar Tree and schedule an appointment today.
Couples, Adolescents, & Young Adults
When I work with clients, I help them explore their most impactful relationships and provide them with tools to try out new ways of relating that foster confidence, healthy connection with others and self-awareness.
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Cedar Tree's Mission:
There are a lot of broken families who struggle to do life well together.
That’s why we help families create an environment where deeper connection & healing can happen.