Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling, Relationships

How do I know if I’m ready to commit to my partner?

For most couples, commitment means a lifelong pledge to one person. That might be by way of marriage, a commitment ceremony or the decision to have children. Making a decision of that magnitude is naturally quite daunting. How do you know you’re with the right person, or if this level of commitment is even what you want? What are the signs you’re ready or not ready yet?

You can get help answering those questions at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists pre-commitment course, but here are some points to get you started:

There are key signs that you are in great shape for a commitment like this:

  1. Your Values are aligned

Couples with aligned values generally have lasting relationships. Do you and your partner agree about what is important in life and in a relationship? For example, how do you rank family, finances, careers and children in their order of importance?

  1. You communicate well with each other

If you are able to speak openly with your partner without either of you getting defensive, and discuss difficult topics like finances and sex and intimacy, then you are in a good place for commitment.

  1. You are on the same page

Finding agreement on a few key aspects of your lives will make your relationship more likely to last. These include:

  • Children – you agree on whether you’d like to raise children, and approximately when in your lives you’d like to do that.
  • Gender roles – you both agree on the roles you intend to play within your relationship, particularly if you plan of having children.
  • Where you will live – if either of you have connections or work overseas, you agree on where you intend to call home and for how long.
  1. You accept your extended family

When you commit to someone, you also commit to their extended family. If you are able to welcome your “in-laws” into your home, or at least tolerate and manage any difficulties in your partner’s family, you are in a good place to make a commitment.

Conversely, here are some key warning signs that you might need to work on your relationship before making a commitment:

  1. Poor communication

Disagreements are normal, but the following are likely to cause damage if they happen regularly:

  • Your arguments escalate into name calling
  • You avoid each other for days after an argument
  • You don’t have disagreements at all and you avoid conflict or confrontation at all costs
  • You communicate upset non-verbally rather than verbally by stomping around or storming out
  • You or your partner regularly criticise each other
  • You or your partner regularly get defensive. If you find yourself getting defensive this article may help. If it’s your partner, then this article may help.
  • You find yourself regularly blaming your partner or being blamed by your partner.
  1. There are topics which are too hot to handle

You have certain topics that you have just mutually agreed to avoid because they are too difficult to talk about. These often include finances and sex and intimacy.

  1. Values or fundamental areas aren’t aligned

Conflicting values or vastly different desires as to whether or not you’d like to have children, where you’d like to live, or the role of your extended families in your relationship, for example, can cause significant challenges down the road.

  1. Commitment feels excessively restrictive

To be committed can be a positive quality in which we are dedicated to something or someone. However to be committed can also suggest being obligated in a way that restricts freedom.

  • You feel anxious to the point that you can’t focus on other things
  • You have physical symptoms such as stomach aches, sweats or can’t sleep when you think about committing to the relationship
  • You worry about losing your identity or freedom
  • You are embarrassed about your relationship in front of your family or friends.

Or maybe you just have a few niggling doubts or are worried about a particular aspect of your relationship? This is very normal and often includes things like:

  • Is this the right person?
  • Am I really ready for this?
  • What if it doesn’t work out?
  • How do I deal with my in-laws?

No matter where you are at – in great shape, wobbly, or just not quite there yet, a pre-commitment or pre-marriage course with a relationship therapist can help you address issues like these and get you on the same page for your lifelong commitment.

It’s a big decision to make. Make it with some support and reassurance – and make the right decision for both of you.

About Alex

After almost a decade of therapeutic work, Alex became interested in what would help couples to stay close, connected and happy in their relationship. Especially after external stresses like children, extended family, financial issues, or mental ill-health entered the relationship.

He’d counselled many couples who had committed to their relationship with the best intentions, and who absolutely loved each other. But they’d lost their way – often because they weren’t communicating effectively, or because constant conflict had worn down all the good things they’d started out with.

Alex who is married with a child himself has also experienced the journey of commitment and the pitfalls that can occur when external stressors occur.

When he repeatedly heard his clients say “I wish we’d done this sort of couples counselling years ago”, or “In hindsight we just chose the wrong partner”, he saw the potential for a pre-marriage/pre-commitment course.

This course is designed to help protect you from relationship mistakes and deal effectively with hurts before they become too damaging. It will give you skills for building a strong relationship and enjoying closeness, love and intimacy with your partner. But it also gives you a safe platform for discussing any niggling doubts or worries before you make a life-long commitment or have a baby together.

Alex at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists, is one of the few Therapists in Australia who has trained in the Gottman methodology. Here, we use the most empirically validated assessment tool available today – the Gottman Relationship Check-up – to look at the health of your relationship and identify areas that could trip you up if left unattended.

With Alex’s warmth, skill and experience, backed by the insights from the Gottman Relationship tool, you and your partner will be supported to make your relationship and future together the best it can be.

If you would like to find out more about our pre-commitment or pre-marriage courses, or book in for an appointment, please contact our receptionist today on 02 8968 9397 or contact us and we will support you to make the relationship choices that are right for you and your partner..

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