Recognizing when to say 'yes' to marriage

Questioning couples about what guided their decision to say "yes" to marriage leads to all sorts of responses. For some, it was due to the way their partner nursed them back to health after falling ill. Some may focus on the way their partner stood up for them when they experienced trouble with a family member. Others may cite a simpler reason, such as the way their partner smiled or laughed at their jokes. Yet others may discover less traditional romantic journeys, like that portrayed in the movie "Beauty and the Beast". Under these circumstances, a couple may begin their relationship at odds, but time reveals a change in one of them that may soften their heart or transform them into a more compatible person. No single person can define the magic potion which motivates two people to make the life-changing decision to marry.

MORE FROM PSYCHOTHERAPIST MARY JO RAPINI

Committing yourself to one person for life is one of the most important decisions you’ll choose. Some people know right away that marriage is the correct decision; others take longer. It’s smart to take your time, avoiding a rushed life-changing decision. Rather, deliberately become aware of how the two of you communicate and resolve conflict as well as the ways in which you each make the other feel about themselves. Marriage experts created a list of over 50 points of consideration couples should pay attention to, but therapists agree that the following five reasons constitute solid justification for saying "YES" to a wedding proposal.

1. Your partner shows unconditional love and support. When your partner demonstrates unconditional love by listening without judgment, continuing to see the best in you and believing in you, that’s cause to say "yes" to a proposal.

2. Your commitment to this person makes you feel freer to achieve your goals. A healthy marriage requires each person to grow in their own interests and goals. When your relationship makes you feel more capable of achieving your personal goals, that’s reason to say "yes" to their proposal.

3. Your partner loves you in sickness and health. Many couples who responded to surveys about what made them agree to marriage expressed that during their courtship they had fallen ill, and their partner nursed them back to health. Marriage brings many trials and tribulations, and a serious illness changes the dynamics of the relationship. When a partner provides support in good times and bad, that’s a "yes" to the proposal.

4. In their words and actions, your partner proves honest and follows through with promises. A partner who follows through with what they say and shows honesty in words and actions allows you to be vulnerable - essential to developing a deeply intimate marriage and emotional and physical connection. A partner with high integrity is a definite "yes" to a marriage proposal.

5. Your partner shows willingness to work together and share the financial and emotional load. When you meet someone with a good work ethic who takes responsibility for their actions and digs in to get the work done, you better say "yes". Successful healthy marriages require two people to create a lifestyle which allows you both to grow and thrive. Creating a shared vision and goal you’re both willing to work towards without expecting the other person to take care of all your needs is a "yes" to a marriage proposal.

A marriage proposal from the person you love brings great excitement in your life, but before accepting the proposal make a concerted effort to reflect upon the reasons behind your "yes". Looks fade and material things don’t matter, but the way they treat you, their family, and others will reflect how you will be treated long after the music and wedding dance has faded.