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

Alex is an accessible and compassionate therapist.  His clients appreciate that Alex listens with the intention of genuinely understanding them.  He’s lovely with adolescents, who seem to warm to him

immediately, and he creates a space in sessions for any or all participants to have their say and feel heard.

Alex’s particular strengths are in the area of working with couples and he has extensive experience and training in this area.  He is both Gottman and Systemically trained and draws on practical ideas that clients can immediately make use of to enhance their relationships.

Alex comes to Sydney Couple and Family Therapy Specialists from backgrounds as a Lifeline Crisis Line Counsellor and Trainer and Therapist at the highly-respected Jansen Newman Institute.  He has supported individuals and couples through trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and adolescent struggles.

Alex has helped many people through intensely frightening and painful life events – and to a place where they have the skills and confidence to carry themselves forward.

Alex is married with a young family and therefore easily relates to the stress and struggles that many couples and young families face today.

“It takes a lot of courage to share a moment of crisis with someone you don’t yet know.  Even more so, to entrust your intimate relationship over to them.

I have been in the fortunate position to be trusted with that responsibility many times and have helped people – through their own bravery, honesty and effort – to transcend their suffering and improve their key relationships.”

Alex also runs the pre-marriage counselling course at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists

Qualifications and Professional Membership

Alex holds a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy from Jansen Newman Institute Sydney, and a Bachelor degree from the University of Sydney.  Alex also holds a Gottman training certificate.

He is a member of the Australian Association of Family Therapy, the Counsellors and Psychotherapist Association of Australia, and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Why see a Couples Counselor?

Are you wondering if couples counselling is for you? In this interview Alex Ryder answers common questions we hear from people who want to understand more about this process.

And remember, if you are a new client you can book a free 15 minute telephone session with Alex.

“We really like your approach. The other couples counsellor we saw left us stuck in negativity.  Right from the start we felt hopeful with you.  Your positive approach helped us out of the slump, so we could address the real issues.” – Murry (36) married to Tasha (39); One Child (3) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling.

“I’ve wanted to refer you to so many people.  Obviously I haven’t given the circumstances, but we are huge fans and are so grateful for your help.” – Tom (49) married to Sarah (43). Two children; 15 & 13 – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling following an affair.

“I think we told you in our first session that you were the last couples therapist we were going to try. Everything was on the line.  So thank you for… well everything.” – James (55) married to Philippa (53) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship Counselling

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..

Sign up today to get tools and strategies to build your relationship

Call us Today Book FREE Consultation