The whole business of deciding to get married can be a minefield.
From finding ‘the one’ to choosing the right date, then picking the flowers, guests, venue, food, and more – there is no end to the tumult of questions.
Once you get past the ‘big day’, it may not be a breeze but it is certainly good for your health, according to decades of research.
Studies have shown married individuals are less likely to suffer from depression and have a lower risk of developing conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol.
However, the anxiety of the wedding can be overwhelming for some, and if you’re not with the right person who makes you thrive rather than flounder, married life can be suffocating.
So for all those who are considering taking the plunge, now is the time to think about it as we plummet into engagement season.
Married couples have lower rates of disease than singletons in later life. But it can be disastrous if you’re not ready. Psychologist Dr Jen Nash helps you work out if you’re ready
A recent study by researchers from the University of Melbourne found that February 14 and days such as 9999 or 1203 are incredibly popular wedding dates with up to five times as many weddings than on comparable ordinary days.
On Valentine’s Day, millions of couples will propose.
Dr Jen Nash, clinical psychologist on behalf of Healthspan, offers some advice on what to consider before you say ‘yes’.
How to know if your partner is ‘The One’
1. Do you find them attractive?
Whilst looks definitely aren’t the most important thing in a good match, most couples say that a physical spark or connection is key for ongoing physical intimacy.
2. Do you agree on the big things?
Children, where you’re going to live, finances… There are so many big issues you’ll face and disagree on – some of which you cannot even foresee. You might as well work out the things that are possible to discuss now.
We’re social creatures – in the past we always lived in packs and groups and in today’s world with pressure and demands, it’s healthy to have a sounding board to share the ups and downs of the day.
In 2010, the World Health Organisation found marriage can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety and singles are more likely to suffer the blues than those who are married.
Last year, Aston Medical School in Birmingham released details of a 13-year study, with one a million participants and concluded that being married is better for your health than being single. Married individuals were less likely to die from conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The researchers cited that one reason for improved health was the encouragement received from their partner to eat healthy, get enough exercise and take their medication. Perhaps not surprisingly, men fared even better than women.
3. Do you get on with his or her family?
Nightmare in-laws are something we can’t control, but if you can deal with their dramas or foibles, all the better
4. How do they respond in crisis?
Do they support you when you need it and in a way that really makes a difference?
5. Can you have a laugh together?
A shared sense of humor really helps with ongoing intimacy, especially as physical attraction may naturally start to wane
6. What are your top three values?
If social connection is vital for you, where as your loved one values time alone, you’ll need to find some ways of making sure both your needs are met.
7. What’s your sex life like?
Can you talk about what you both like in the bedroom and are you happy to give and take?
8. Do you have a clear sense of your individual and shared roles?
Having a sense of who will stay at home with any children you may have and how each of you will contribute financially to the household are important to have agreement on.
9. Are you compatible from a religious and cultural perspective?
Meaning do you understand and respect each other’s points of view or ways of doing things, or are you open to learning more about each other’s heritage? Getting a good foundation in place before marriage is crucial to ensure a shared understanding.
10. What would you do if it all went wrong?
It’s not very romantic, but thinking about what you will do if the worst should happen and the relationship doesn’t work out is very wise. What will happen to your finances, assets and plans for co-parenting?
How to interpret your results
First thing’s first: understand that you do not have to rush into marriage.
In the face of ever rising divorce statistics, many engaged people I work with now seem to be accepting from the outset that, even with the best of intentions, there is as much chance they will ‘make it’ as not.
But separation and divorce are stressful and, of course, costly – both financially and emotionally. The impact on the wider family network, especially children, is great.
IF YOUR ANSWERS WERE MOSTLY YES
IF YOUR ANSWERS WERE MOSTLY NO
If the answers are largely ‘no’ then I encourage you to see it as a red flag.
It’s important to look at your relationship honestly – whilst a few areas of disagreement are natural and can likely be worked through, more than half will likely mean that in the long-term you may find the relationship an uphill battle.
Many of the items on this list are values based themes, so if you have a large disconnect in life values, you are not getting off on the strongest footing.
IF YOUR ANSWERS WERE 5050
Strongly consider talking to your partner to find out if there are ways you can find some common ground or compromise.
Your partner may not have appreciated your strength of feeling on a particular area, or that something was very important to you.
An ideal way to approach this is to have a ‘Future Talk’ – away from every day routines, distractions and on neutral ground like a walk or in the park, to talk about these red flags.
If some areas seem like nothing will budge, at least you’re both going in with your eyes open.
You can prepare yourself now, that more work may need to be done at a later date.
Stay optimistic – priorities change over time and issues where there is no room for movement now, may soften over time.