How do you know if you are ready for a relationship? Really, it is an honest question because too often people think they are ready, then get into a relationship and soon realize they have unfinished issues. In 10 Best Decisions a Single Can Make, we help singles look at key areas of his or her life to see if they have built a life strong enough to invite another to join them in. For example: Are you financially stable? Emotionally healed? Physically well? Etc. In The Before Your Marry Book of Questions, the first chapter is fully dedicated to helping a person take an honest look in the mirror and ask some tough questions to see if he or she is ready to open up his or her heart and life to another.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before your next date:
Are You Ready?
Have you been on your own? (Are you paying for your own housing, food, personal items, car, phone, insurance? Are you responsible for your own personal decisions, schedule, life plan?)
Are you out of debt or have you implemented a plan to consistently reduce your debt and pay off loans?
Do you have a strong plan and direction for your life?
Do you have a job and career and have you seen any success in this, or do you have a clear path to college or grad school graduation?
Do you have a dependable, authentic group of friends you can confide in and trust their opinions and counsel?
Do you have a healthy relationship with your parents, grandparents, and extended family—or have you sought to have one from your side of the relationship?
Have you dealt with your family-of-origin issues? Did either of your parents have addictions, abandon you, abuse you, and so on? Have you pursued counseling or mentoring to overcome those hurts?
Have you acknowledged and forgiven any hurts from past relationships?
Have you dealt with any of your demons (drugs, drinking, pornography, sexual promiscuity, gambling, or shopping addictions)?
Have you finished and closed the doors on all past relationships? (You are not seeing a person from your past or carrying romantic feelings for him or her.)
If you were previously married, have you completed all details of that relationship? Is the divorce final (you’re not just separated)? If children are involved, has a custody settlement been agreed upon? Have you divided property?
If you were in a serious dating relationship, a previous engagement, or marriage, have you given yourself time to regroup and readjust to life as a solo person? (One healthy time gauge would be at least one month off all dating relationships for each year you were with a person. For example, if you dated for two years, were engaged a year, and then broke it off, you should not go on any kind of date for at least three months. Most people require double this (so six-months of breathing room). If you lived with someone or a marriage ended, you should double this again. So if you dated two years, were engaged one, and married for three, at minimum give yourself a year or even two to recover or regroup.)
If you have children, are they at a place they can handle change or a new person entering your life? (Kids are not as resilient as you might want them to be. It is wise to consult a licensed counselor who specializes in children before exposing your children to romantic relationships. Use the wisdom of those who have a proven track record of helping children and families to add to your own wisdom before making life-altering decisions.)
Do you have a growing relationship with God in a way that you can sense when God is leading and guiding your life?
Do you have trusted mentors and a positive relationship with a member of the clergy you can go to for wisdom or to be a sounding board for decisions?
You should have been able to mark off all the items on this list, and if you were not, then those are areas you will want to make forward movement on before jumping into a serious dating relationship, engagement, or marriage. A healthy person is not afraid of self-assessment and self-improvement because they see the value of becoming their best for the sake of all those they love, including the one they will marry. Things do not need to be perfect, but from your side of any and all relationships, have you tried to make things right?
Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship experts, international speakers and authors of over 38 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and this new release, The Before You Marry Book of Questions. More of their resources can be found at www.Love-Wise.com