#1 Big Decision: Marriage decisions and whether to commit to a life partner

It’s time to make a decision.

Is this the person you want to be with for the rest of your life?

Asking someone to marry you or committing to a partner for life, is likely to be the biggest decision you will ever make. We could rely solely on our heart to help us make this decision, but is there a more rigorous way to weigh up whether this is the right person or the right time to pop the question or commit?

Consider these scenarios:

  • You’ve been together for 8 years and getting married seems like the right thing to do, but you keep having to sacrifice things you love in order to stay together. What should you do?
  • Your partner is pressuring you to get married, but something in you is hesitating. What do you do?
  • You’ve been together for six months and you think this is definitely ‘it’. Is it too early to ask your partner to get married?

Committing to your partner necessarily involves risk, courage and a willingness to take a chance. It is also a decision in which your intuition will play a big part. Our aim is to give you a framework to help you reflect on and clarify the decision ahead, so you are more confident in backing yourself when D-day arrives.

Overall the four mains questions that the Lenses will help you to reflect on are: 

IDENTITY LENS – WHO AM I?

Who are we as a couple and what would a future together look like?

  • Why am I in this relationship?
  • Who has a relationship that inspires me? What is it about that relationship that makes it special?
  • Are there any serious differences we need to unpack before making this decision?
  • How do I feel about what I’ve already put in to this relationship? …and got out? – Do those months or years of relationship feel like sunk costs going nowhere?.... or like a wonderful investment and experience regardless of where things go from here?
  • What are my expectations in making this decision? In staying together?
  • How do I see the story of this relationship? Is this a story that merits continuation? ….perpetuity? or needs change?
  • Is there a reasonable fit of values? ..of interests?..of give and of take?
  • Do we have a growth or fixed mindset when it comes to our relationship? Are we growing or just going through the motions?
  • What daily habits form the autopilot of our relationship? (TV? Intimacy? Conversation?) What is the long-term impact of those daily habits? Is that a future I want to be a part of?
  • How does my partner make me feel? Do I feel good about myself when I am around them?
  • What qualities does my partner bring out in me? Curiosity? Courage? Open-mindedness? Ambition? Aspiration?
  • What might this marriage/partnership be like in 5 years time?

OPPORTUNITY LENS

Do we try to spot opportunities to grow as a couple (as well as individually) and is a future together full of opportunity or Groundhog Day?

  • What opportunities does us being together invite into my life? (Adventure, learning new things, new friends, picking up habits and mindsets, etc)
  • What opportunities does being with you potentially make me miss out on? (living somewhere else, Having/not having kids, etc)
  • What opportunities have I had to collect information relevant to making this marriage decision? What experience have I had to compare this to?
  • What are the contexts in which this relationship has already been tested? (Living together? Living apart? Travelling together? External pressures?)
  • What opportunities have these given me to observe relevant signals about my partner or about the relationship? Did I observe the signals objectively? Or was I selectively editing out the good signals or the bad signals?
  • Have I been growing through this relationship? Does my partner challenge me? Do I want to be challenged? Or are we just going through the motions like Groundhog Day?

IMPACT LENS

Do we work smarter not harder as a couple to move towards mastery in how we relate to and love each other?

  • When is the right time for making this decision – in the context of our individual lives and the relationship?
  • As what I get out will mainly be related to what I put in, what must I be putting in and when can I best put it in?
  • How often do I invest in us and are those choices the best ones available?
  • How often do we take time to make a strategy for our relationship and making it meaningful? 
  • How can we best help each other to grow? …..and our relationship to strengthen? How do we work smarter together?
  • What are some conflicting aspects which need to be dealt with?  and how do we minimise their impact? …and maximise our growth through dealing with them?
  • What do I need/ need to do in order to make this relationship really special? What else has to go if I’m going to make a success of this relationship? How do I make myself sensitive to where to direct my energy in this relationship?

SUSTAINABILITY LENS

Do I believe that we are a good couple to weather life’s storms together and that our love can stand the test of time?

  • Can I see us growing old together?
  • Do we make each other a priority in our lives or a second-thought?
  • How do we negotiate the potential deal breakers? (I’m in Sydney and my partners in London, is that really sustainable?)
  • Does spending time together fill my bucket?
  • Do I know when to say “no”/ draw lines?
  • Am I being a perfectionist? Why should I expect perfection from me or my partner?...or from the relationship?
  • What are the things we should be celebrating along the way?
  • Do we have a healthy balance of routine and surprises in both our lives to nourish the relationship?

Even with hours of reflecting you’ll still have to make this decision on imperfect information, putting trust in your intuition and summoning courage. This may however be easier if you have set aside some time by yourself or with a trusted friend/counsellor/psychologist/family member to reflect on some of the above questions that are relevant to you. The stakes are high and a little bit of reflection can help you to uncover the decision. Good luck!

This Week’s Challenge:

If you’re making a decision like this: Set aside one hour this week by yourself or with a trusted friend/counsellor/psychologist/family member to reflect on the above questions. Pick three questions from each Len that resonate with you and spend 15 minutes reflecting or discussing each Lens.

At the end of the hour bring together your reflections into a note to self, jotting down any of the key learnings, information you need to find out and actions that will help you be more confident in your ability to make the big decision.

If you’re in a stable relationship: Set aside one hour this week with your partner at a location you love (with your favourite food) to reflect on the above questions. Pick three questions from each toolkit that resonate with you and together spend 15-minutes discussing:

  1. How this lens currently relates to your relationship
  2. How this lens could help to enrich your relationship going forward

At the end of the hour take 15 minutes to experiment with creating a relationship plan that incorporates any of the key insights gained in the hour and experiment with it for one week. As you experiment with it check in, modify it if necessary to make sure it is working for both of you and try to create new ways of being together. 

Tune in on the 16th of November for the third instalment in the Big Decision Series: “Where should I call home?”