When my husband, Joe, and I got engaged, we had known each other for about a year—and I had never been more sure of anything in my life. A year (and some change) after our wedding, we still marvel at the fact that our futures are forever joined, and it only took us a year to make that decision.
For some, in different circumstances, dating for a year before proposing might seem like a gamble. But Joe and I lived near one another and close to where we grew up; we got to spend a lot of time together, with one another's families, and with our friends. It was much more than proximity though—I think we can mostly thank having important conversations (over and over again). Addressing the big and little issues early and often made choosing a lifetime commitment in marriage easy.
Did I know if he snored? (Actually, yes, thanks to an overnight trip we took with friends.) Did he know that my bedroom looks like a tornado came through after I get ready in the morning? Did we know exactly how we would handle disappointments and grief, or even what they might be? Absolutely not. But I knew six essential things about him, and that was enough to know everything would be OK—even better than OK.
01. Know his core values.
You don't have to know someone for a year to know what he holds dear and how those things dictate his life. But, regardless how long it takes, it is important for you to very clearly be able to identify your boyfriend's values—and (hopefully) jive with them—before you say "I do".
Maybe you know what church he goes to, but do you know how that faith dictates his life? What about family and loyalty? How do those things influence the way he makes decisions? Our values are the things we live by and they will also be the things that influence both big and small decisions in marriage. From how you spend your weekends to how you raise your kids, knowing where his priorities lie will make joint decision making and a shared life a lot easier.
02. Know where he came from.
One of the best ways to know where your man is headed is to understand where he came from. So many of our hopes, fears, and dreams for the future were formed while we were living under our parents' roof. So take some time to find out everything you can about the time in his life that you can never be a part of.
Ask your man about his happiest memories growing up and his saddest ones. Find out what he thinks about his parents' parenting style, what traditions he felt brought his family together, and what habits or routines he regrets. Your soon-to-be husband learned how to show affection and how to relate to others from his parents and siblings, so getting to know about those relationships provides good context to what you know about him now—and also what kind of man he will want to be in the future.
03. Know how important having kids is to him.
Obviously it is important to know if your guy wants children at all—it's not one of those things you just hope to one day see eye-to-eye on. But there is so much more to know about your guy's feelings about children than whether or not he wants them. Knowing things like how many children he would like, whether or not you will use FABMS and under what circumstances, and whether or not he would be open to adoption are all things that could undermine your unity and happiness in marriage if you don't see eye to eye.
04. Know why he wants to get married.
Getting married can be one of those things couples just take for granted, something they do because it seems like the next step, or because they feel it's what's expected. But reasons like these for getting married can often lead to disillusionment and unhappiness later on.
Find out why your guy wants marriage, and more specifically, to marry you. Does he believe marriage is a life vocation, does he believe you and the natural sacrifices of marriage will make him a better man? Does he want a family? Whatever the reason, make sure you both see eye to eye and your desires for marriage are compatible and inspiring.
05. Know what scares him most about marriage.
Most of us have some worries or fears about marriage (even those who have been dreaming about their wedding day since they were four). The truth is, we don't just want to get married we want a happy marriage. Looking around, it can sometimes seem like that's hard to come by.
Maybe your guy fears that one day you might stop trying. Or that he won't know how to handle the really tough stuff. Or that the passion in your relationship will get destroyed by kids and a busy schedule? Whatever his fears about marriage, know that they are probably pretty normal. Address those fears before your wedding day and continue to check back in. Doing this will ensure that those fears will never get pushed into some dark corner of your marriage, haunting you both and getting in the way of your future happiness.
06. Know that he is crazy about you.
Sometimes we can get so preoccupied with how marriage works that we forget it really comes down to one very important thing. You love each other and you want to be together. Sure, if you don't continually prioritize your marriage, you can lose track of that, but it's an essential place to start.
I know that for Joe and me, we had important boxes in our relationship checked, but at the end of the day we really just wanted to be together and to share our lives with one another. If you do things right, you will never forget that and you will only fall deeper in love through the years. How do you know your guy really loves you and is crazy enough about you to marry you? This article has some great tips.
Photo Credit: Elissa Voss