Are you having serious doubts about getting married?
Because there’s a big difference between regular engagement jitters and truly saying “I don’t know” to the thought of “I do.”
First, these two things are both completely true:
- It’s okay to have second guesses and anxiety about getting married.
- It’s also okay to decide that getting married to this person is not right for you.
So, before you take the plunge into such a serious commitment, it’s time to pay attention to that nagging feeling and see if there is anything real in there.
Here are 18 signs that you shouldn’t get married.. at least with this person and at least right now.
1. You’re hung up on the wedding day.
The wedding is just one day. The marriage is, hopefully, the next many decades.
It can be easy to lose sight of the marriage in the midst of wedding planning, but it’s important that you take time to really give some serious consideration to whether or not you want to be marrying this person at this time. (And there is really no relation between the two!)
Some people have hugely stressful weddings and peaceful marriages and vice versa. Your relationship with your caterer is a totally separate entity than the relationship with your spouse.
Of course, if you’ve been dating a long time, you’ve probably figured this all out already, but if you didn’t know each other long before the proposal, make sure that you are giving the marriage as much attention as the wedding day.
Keep in mind that the wedding day is only there in service to the marriage, not the other way around. It’s better to lose a deposit or two now than deal with a divorce lawyer in a year.
Some people don’t believe in marriage. Your partner may love you but doesn’t believe in marriage.
2. You and your partner haven’t talked about some of the really big stuff yet
This is a really big sign that you might not be ready to get married. The good news is that this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker— you might find that when you both sit down for a long heart to heart talk, you’re perfectly aligned.
But then again, you may find that the things you want out of life, the things that you will absolutely require for happiness, aren’t matching up. Either way, a long talk should help you figure out some very big decisions.
This also includes some of the big crossroads stuff and the worst case scenarios.
If one of you cheats, for example, would you want to know or would you prefer to just move on without talking about it? If one of you is suddenly incapacitated and unable to work or parent, what would you be willing to do? If a parent falls ill and needs constant care, would you be willing to let them move in?
These aren’t always pleasant things to think about, but you want to have a basic understanding of the kind of values your fiancé holds before you’re suddenly at an impasse and emotions are running hot.
3. You want different things out of life that cannot be compromised
If you dream of a fast-paced career in a high-rise apartment overlooking Manhattan and your fiancé dreams of a life lived simply out in a rustic cottage in the country, you might have a difficult time coming to a compromise. (Unless you’ve got some serious bankroll to keep a summer and winter home!)
While a willingness to compromise and work together is the backbone of every healthy relationship, some things simply cannot be negotiated. Better to be upfront now than to let the resentment fester and destroy the marriage later.
Which leads into the biggest no compromise zone of them all…
4. You disagree about having children or you really are not sure if you want children
Sadly, there just isn’t a compromise on this one. You can’t just have half a baby to appease your partner.
But the decision on whether or not to have kids is one that most people are not very likely to budge on. And typically, it’s the person that very much wants children that ends up getting that dream postponed until it’s either too late or they finally get so resentful that they leave.
It’s a truly terrible thing to do to someone, particularly someone you claim to love.
On the other hand, there is always a degree of uncertainty. Even if you both go into the marriage wanting or not wanting children, people do change their minds. Unexpected pregnancies have a way of pushing people to see the other side.
On the flip side, infertility is a heartbreakingly common experience for couples to throw everything they thought about parenthood into question. While you will not know how you truly feel until you’re in it, it helps to have some conversation to fall back on and know a little bit about where the other person is at.
5. You cannot find a common ground in how you believe children should be raised
Having children is very often wading into murky and uncharted waters for couples and some serious disagreements from time to time should be expected.
But you should also know if you have opposing viewpoints on how children should be raised that are absolutely, fundamentally incompatible.
Maybe one of you believes in a strict disciplinarian approach while the other takes a hands-on learning, free range childhood approach. Maybe one of you thinks that children should be brought up in a certain religious or cultural institution. Maybe you have very different perspectives about issues like having two working parents or homeschooling.
The good news is that a lot of these things can be worked out, but it’s best to know ahead of time so you can be prepared and know if this is something you are willing to compromise on.
6. You do not like the person you become when you’re with him or her
Your significant other should bring out the very best in you. But we all have known people who do the exact opposite and bring out the worst in us.
If after you spend time together, you are regularly ashamed or embarrassed about the way you acted when you’re with your future spouse, it might be time to take a closer look at the relationship.
This is a great one to ask friends to weigh in on. Chances are, they have an opinion on whether or not you are really being yourself and acting truly happy when you’re with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
One or two dissenters is no big deal, but if everyone close to you thinks that it’s not a good match, especially if they are making the same points about why they’re opposed, it might be worth paying attention to it.
7. You’re in an abusive relationship
Love never fixes an abuser.
The sad truth is that if you are dating someone who is abusing you, the only way out for both you and for them is to leave.
There is a chance that an abusive person will seek help if they lose the relationship they cherished. There is very little chance that he or she will change within a relationship.
And abuse isn’t just physical. Emotional, verbal, and financial abuse all count as well.
If you feel like you can’t leave because they’ll threaten you or they’ve cut you off from your friends and family enough that you feel isolated, seek help. Those are all massive red flags that cannot be ignored.
8. You don’t see eye to eye about money
Unless one of you is the heir to a massive fortune, you will eventually disagree about money. (And even then, there’s always the pre-nup to cause a little extra money commotion.)
Money squabbles are just one of life’s difficult truths.
There will come a time when major financial decisions are on the line and emotions get heated.
While having arguments about money isn’t a sign that you shouldn’t get married, it is definitely something to take stock of.
In fact, as stressful as planning an expensive wedding can be, one of the perks is that it very often forces couples to discuss finances openly.
Very often, it’s the first time that major money attitudes are really discussed.
9. You’re using the wedding to make things better
Did the wedding proposal come right on the heels of some major drama?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t get married. But getting married to fix the relationship is a common mistake and you should be incredibly cautious of it.
Really take stock of what the issue was — infidelity, a huge fight, an unplanned pregnancy, the death of someone close, an illness — and look to see if all of the emotional baggage surrounding it has truly been worked through. If it hasn’t, you may be using the upcoming wedding to put off having to deal with hard emotions.
And those will eventually need to be worked out.
10. One of you hasn’t figured out some of the big picture goals yet
If one of you doesn’t know what or who they want to be “when they grow up,” you might be looking at a real problem.
We should all be accepting and encouraging of our partner’s willingness and ability to grow and evolve, but if one of you is still wrestling with big questions about what they want to do in life, you may want to push pause on the marriage.
It doesn’t have to be ending the engagement forever, but it’s reasonable to put a time limit of six months to a year for someone to figure out what they want their life to look like before they attach someone else to it.
You might be doing them a favor in giving them a little boost out of the nest to really take flight in their self-confidence.
11. You aren’t sexually compatible
We don’t always talk about sexual compatibility when we’re listing off the things we want in a romantic partner to eventually settle down with, but in reality, it’s huge.
Look at how often marriages end because of cheating or one person finally deciding they can’t take a “dead bedroom” and leaving.
As much as some people find it embarrassing or uncomfortable to talk about what they want sexually, it is important that both of you are on the same page about big stuff like sexual frequency, the level of monogamy you would like to practice, and what you both consider cheating.
If you know that strict monogamy is the only thing you’ll accept, or that occasional leniency is okay, like a threesome or visiting a cam girl or going to a strip club or erotic masseuse, try bringing it up to your partner to see how they react.
They might be totally fine with it, or they might let you know that it’s an aspect of your personal life that they don’t need to be privy to. Whatever the reaction, it’s better than not knowing and assuming the worst.
12. You have never had an argument together or you simply cannot fight well together
The sign of a strong couple that can withstand the test of time is not the couple’s lack of disagreement.
A sign that a couple is really going to make it through the trials and tribulations of a long term marriage is the ability to disagree and fight well together.
Some couples sit down calmly and talk out what’s bothering them. Some couples get more heated and might argue passionately, raising their voices and storming around the room.
You need to make sure that the two of you are capable of fighting in a way that isn’t going to traumatize either of you or give one person unrelenting victories just because he or she is the loudest one in the room.
Similarly, a more passionate fighter needs to recognize that a more calm and collected partner may be feeling just as strongly and may be just as heated, but prefers not to show it.
Whichever way you find your own fighting style, keep a close eye that it stays healthy and respectful and never veers into abuse or intimidation.
13. You have a big secret that you can’t tell him or her
It’s perfectly healthy to keep some level of privacy, even in a marriage. Things like bathroom time, masturbation, and small level finances are totally cool to keep to yourself.
But if you have a really big secret that could affect the entire relationship if it comes out, you may want to think twice and really ask yourself if it’s better to just be honest now.
What kind of big secrets are we talking about?
Things like any kids you don’t have physical custody of, or prior marriages, or serious debt. It’s also stuff like your sexual orientation or having a major medical condition.
None of these things are necessarily big deals on their own, but they certainly can be if they come out in a scandalous way later when it seems like you’ve been hiding a shameful secret.
If this is really the right person for you, they will be understanding and willing to hear you out.
14. Part of your desire to get married is being afraid you’ll never get married
We put tremendous pressure on people, women especially, to find “The One” and get married and settle down to prove that we’re worthwhile.
If you’re one of the last in your family or peer group to get engaged, it can feel like you’ve finally been accepted into the club of Real Adults. But keep in mind that this satisfaction will be short lived and you’ll be dealing with the reality of the marriage for far longer.
You will be far happier accepting yourself as a whole and complete single person than living in an unhappy or rushed marriage.
15. You are getting married for the benefit of someone else
This sounds ridiculous, but it happens more often than you think.
Often there is pressure from one or both of the families to lock it down and the couple in question is just sort of following the rules that they’ve laid out.
In a certain way, this is inherent in every marriage— after all, why do we have a big celebration, a public announcement, and a guest list of friends and family if it’s not in some way for the benefit of everyone else? (In the long history of marriages, getting married to benefit the family unit as a whole was the standard and love was a happy accident if it happened at all.)
And there are sometimes deeply personal and emotional reasons to be getting undue family pressures: someone is being deployed overseas, a family member is terminally ill, an elderly person is getting older and may be running out of time.
It is absolutely okay to take these into consideration, but do a gut check to make sure that you aren’t rushing into a marriage that you’re uncertain of just to make sure that you’re pleasing your family.
16. You are getting married to prove a point to someone else
A little family drama is almost sure to happen in wedding planning, even in the chillest families. But what about if your family absolutely despises him or her, or vice versa?
While it’s not the end of the world; after all, you’re adults and it’s perfectly natural to break free from the familial apron strings; it should give you a little pause to take stock of exactly what the problem is. It is perfectly valid to blow off the things you can’t change, like if your parents have an issue with his race or his parents don’t like what your father does for a living, but if it’s a bigger issue, it’s at least worth considering.
Have they seen you interact much? Did your partner not present well to them? Is there a grudge, no matter who is really at fault, that could be lifted by a simple apology?
Try to make your wedding and the early years of your marriage as easy as possible and make sure that you aren’t just dangling the threat of marriage over your family’s head to prove a childish point.
You’re a grownup. You don’t need to do that.
17. You don’t know if you actually even want to be married
Marriage is not for everyone and that is totally okay.
Maybe you like the ability to take off and travel at a moment’s notice. Maybe you prefer the simplicity of short term relationships. Maybe the idea of spending years and years of your life with the same person feels like a prison sentence.
All of these are totally valid reasons to not want to get married. Many couples live together for years, even decades, and never actually marry.
There is nothing wrong with this if that’s what makes you more comfortable.
18. You love him or her, but you’re not sure that you are ready right now
Maybe you know that he or she is the one you want to marry, but there are reasons you’re hesitant about going through with it.
Maybe you are young, maybe you are still working out the details of school or a career, maybe you are in the midst of really figuring out what you big-picture life goals are actually going to look like.
If you know that the person you love right now is the person you want to marry, ask yourself why you feel so rushed. What would be the harm in having a long engagement?
Give yourself the time so that when you do finally say I do, you know that you are ready to really mean it.