How do you know that you are ready for marriage?

A few weeks ago my teacher asked this question:

"How do you know if you are ready for marriage? Discuss this issue, and formulate some guidelines to help people decide whether they are ready to marry. How do  "The roles of forgiveness and sacrifice play in the readiness for marriage"? Please include some of the material from Olson in your answer."

This question really made me think. The next four paragraphs are my crafted response:

I guess my first thoughts to this question is does anyone ever really know if they are ready for marriage? At least in my case, you can do everything you think you need to to be ready for marriage and then realize after-wards.... that you were totally not ready. It seems a lot easier to see things and problems in other people than in yourself and so deciding if you are mature enough for marriage is really easy for someone who is immature and doesn't really know that they are immature. To know whether you are ready or not, you first need to know what you need to be ready... which requires that you actually know what you need to know. I think that can be a hard topic. I did put the question out to a few friends and one friend had an awesome answer that I will post here:

"Egad. My first line of thoughts was about choosing a suitable partner, but that isn't what you're asking.  The first time I married, I was crazy in love.  I don't recall giving much thought to long-term ramifications, but I was a lot younger then, too.  We'd been living together for two years already, so the day-to-day stuff had already been resolved. We were married three weeks after he proposed.

When I agreed to marry my current cohabitation partner, I thought it over a lot more.  In fact, he had to wait almost two years from when he first broached the subject to when I agreed.  This time, I gave a lot of thought to what partnership with him would be like, and what I would need to compromise, and whether I was capable of those compromises.  I think I'm a lot more realistic this time around.  I also go into it knowing that, if the marriage fails, I'll be able to take care of myself emotionally.  I think it's important to not get married because you want somebody to take care of you for the rest of your life, in any aspect.  It's nice if they do, but if that's why you're getting married, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.  Nobody is responsible for me but me.  So I guess I feel more ready this time, if also more cynical."

I think that forgiveness is such an important thing to do and be able to do. If you hold a 'tally' of the person's wrongs up all the time (even if it is only in your own mind), it will eventually overload your marriage- my thoughts here. It's hard to stay in love with someone if you are always focused on the negative aspects of your partner and his/her potential 'mistakes' and 'mistreatment'. Grudges also harm you internally- how can you love others if you have anger in your 'self' and how can you love yourself if you are crowding out that love with anger and frustration and even hatred. Also sacrifice is important because each of us will want others to sometimes let us have what we need. Sometimes to give us what we need, we are asking others to give up wants or even put off their own needs because we feel 'ours' need to take precedence. That can be walking a fine line... but sacrifice can help a couple to stay sturdy and show support for each other and their needs so that both individuals feel truly cared for and supported... not walked on.

After a few weeks, I still feel fairly strongly about my response. What has your experience been? If you had been asked the original question that I entered above, how would you answer it? Please share! :)

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