Marriage is one of the biggest commitments made in a lifetime.
It’s natural to feel nervous — even a bit apprehensive — about spending the rest of your life with one person, but at what point are those feelings indicative of something more? Here are the signs you’re not quite ready to tie the knot, according to experts.
1. You’re dreading the wedding.
“If the thought of spending the rest of your life, or at least the next 10 to 20 years, with the same person fills you with a sense of dread, you’re not ready to get married.” — Marcia Sirota, a psychiatrist and founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute
2. You love your partner, but you’re not in love with him or her.
“If you are marrying someone because you think they will be a good mate to you and a good parent, but you are not in love with them, you should seriously consider whether you are ready to be married, or married to this person specifically.” — Nikki Martinez, a counselor and adjunct professor
3. You’re keeping secrets from each other.
“One sign that you may not be ready to get married is if you are keeping significant secrets from your partner. These can include the way and with whom you spend your time, information about your finances or your frequent use of a substance.” — Elisabeth LaMotte, a clinical social worker, psychotherapist and founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center
4. You think of divorce as no big deal.
“If you are entering the marriage with the attitude of, ‘If things don’t work out, we’ll just get divorced,’ this is probably a good indicator that you aren’t ready for the commitment.” — Leslie Petruk, the director of The Stone Center for Counseling & Leadership in Charlotte, North Carolina
5. Your morals and beliefs just don’t line up.
“If you have fundamental differences in your morals, beliefs, and ideas, that will cause continued issues in the relationship that may not be able to be overcome. An example of this is not being able to agree what faith your children will be raised in.” — Nikki Martinez
6. You’ve only been with your partner for a short amount of time.
“If you’ve been dating for less than two years, you’re not ready to get married. I don’t care how old you are: this applies. I’ve done a high percentage of divorces for people of all ages who married before the two-year mark. It takes a full year to get beyond the infatuation stage and then another year to clearly see each other’s warts and know if you can live with them.” — Alison Patton, licensed attorney and mediator
7. You keep having the same argument over and over again.
“If you are unable to work through conflict such that both parties feel heard, understood and resolved, you likely aren’t ready to make the leap yet. Particularly if the same argument or issue resurfaces over and over without resolution. This is an opportunity to seek outside help to learn how to work through conflict and determine if you are able to. This is an essential skill in a marital relationship.” — Leslie Petruk
8. You’re getting married out of guilt, fear or because you’re trying to please someone else.
“You may choose to marry someone out of guilt because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, upset them or go back on a promise you previously made. Sometimes men and women get married because they mistakenly think that this is their one and only chance at love, or the love they have at the moment is as good as it gets. Getting married to try to please anyone except yourself happens because of the ‘shoulds.’ For example, your parents or family say you should marry someone who went to a certain school, is in a certain income bracket or has certain religious or spiritual beliefs, and you take what they say to be more important than following your own inner guidance.” — Otto Collins, life and relationship coach and co-creator of Passionate Heart
9. You love the potential of who your partner could become, not who they are are right now.
“If you are hoping that being married will change something about your significant other, you may not be ready to marry this person. Are you hoping that marriage will help your fiancé decide that he does want children, even though he insists he does not? Do you imagine that she will drink less once you marry, or that he will become more ambitious once there’s a ring on his finger? People rarely change, and fantasies that marriage will transform your beloved are usually a sign that you are not ready to marry.” — Elisabeth LaMotte
10. You’re interested in an open marriage, but haven’t told your partner yet.
“Wait, you haven’t even gotten married yet. If you want a marriage with no rules, then why are you getting married? If you are truly interested in an open marriage, you should have been practicing polyamory or swinging long before you headed up the aisle. Don’t start the open marriage dialogue after the conversation about the seating arrangements for the reception. If you are nervous about monogamy, then maybe you need to slow the whole things down and forego the walk down the aisle until you have visited your monogamy conversation in more detail. Learn to open your communication before you open your marriage and then when you do decide to commit to your partner, your marriage will be better for it.” — Tammy Nelson, Board Certified Sexologist, Certified Sex Therapist and the author of The New Monogamy
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