A very appealing and sometimes urgent matter is about feeling more confident about our romantic relationships, and hopeful that things would go just well with time, unless we just happened to feel OK with hanging out, and having fun, without any real and meaningful long term expectation.
The following ideas were shared in response to an interview made in 2013 for a website focus on dating and relationships, and since I got very good feedback at that time, I have chosen to share it here with you.
3 MAIN SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
While a proposal, which usually is supposed to happen after a couple feels very close to each other and confident about the relationship in the present and in long run, a proposal could often come from an immature or even a very dysfunctional person, thus by itself, it is never enough to lead an individual to seriously consider marriage. If I have to list three main signs or core essential factors anybody should look for as confirmation that she/he should marry a boy/girlfriend, they would be:
1 – CONSISTENCY BETWEEN WORDS AND ACTIONS
How much honesty, respect, affection, sensitivity, support and accountability has he/she shown through words and the consistent actions that followed during the whole time they have been dating? If he/she has not been able to be this way during the dating phase, it would be unrealistic to believe an immature or dysfunctional boyfriend/girlfriend would suddenly become a healthy and responsible spouse or life partner.
2- MEETING CORE NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS
Has he/she met your core needs and expectations while dating? Has he/she been a really good match emotionally, at the mental and personality levels; have you had a healthy and fulfilling sexual understanding/relationship and emotional intimacy? Anything you experienced while dating, good or bad could get deeper and stronger while married, depending on how truthful and competent your partner has been fulfilling your main longings and needs while dating, showing he/she cares about you and does everything healthy and possible to make of you a number one priority in his/her life.
3- WILLINGNESS AND CONCRETE EFFORTS TOWARDS PERSONAL CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT
Many people believe and would state: “if you really love me, you have to accept me the way I am”. The problem with this approach is that they do believe that the person who loves them should take their full ego, with all its deficiencies and dysfunctions, including different forms of abuse, control and neglect issues, which are always unacceptable in any adult and healthy relationship. We all need to change for better, to heal and make improvements, and that could only happen if we are willing to acknowledge our issues, work on them, and set boundaries as necessary in order to build and promote healthy relationships.
THE MOST COMMON MISTAKE SEEN IN NEWLY MARRIED COUPLES THAT THEY
SHOULD/COULD HAVE AVOIDED BEFORE GETTING MARRIED
Not being totally -truthful with- themselves, and really honest with each other. People fear being rejected, abandoned, judged, unloved, and more. Pushed by these fears, they would play roles, please and use avoidance and repression in order to appear as appealing and loveable as possible, to get the partner’s attachment, affection and passion, also justifying unacceptable behaviors in their partners just to keep the relationship integrity, no matter what it takes.
One core issue that would not make a relationship work, enjoy authentic intimacy, affection and commitment is about partners not being fully themselves. Being themselves allows them to know and understand each other, to work on supporting each other as a team, instead of pushing each other, trying to get one ego over the other. Not being authentic and real would not allow them to feel happy nor satisfied with the relationship. It could work while dating because of the hopes they have about future committed marriage, but what they do not know is that in reality, life challenges, difficulties and issues do demand us to do our best and support each other in order to be effective and resilient, getting stronger and wiser in the relationship instead of getting undermined by the pressure life could inflict on those who do not equip themselves to cope, learn and change for better. Boredom, monotony, health and financial problems, children, responsibilities and many other things could deeply and negatively impact marriages and couples if both partners are not truly themselves and connected, supporting each other as a real team.
BOUNDARIES & LIMITS
We are all different and unique, and this is wonderful since it makes life colorful and rich, but concrete compatibility between different personalities is essential, same value and belief systems, and life styles must exist as requirements for enjoyable and healthy marriages. But they would never work unless each partner sets clear boundaries and limits in consistency with what they think, value, belief, need and want in life and from each other. Being this real and direct should never be avoided, once marriages or committed relationships are for real and not about playing appealing roles to keep the other person attached.
If the other person truly respects, likes, loves and cares about you, because of being the unique human being you are, then you would not need to do anything artificial or fake, forced or uncomfortable to make your relationship work and to feel happy and satisfied with each other. You would spontaneously work on yourself and support each other to become even a better match, because you truly care and want to do it, because it is not about a selfish benefit anymore, but about the relationship growth and fulfillment as a whole, where both of you become one, and what matters and affects one, impacts and matters to the other.