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Is your relationship ready for marriage?

You've been dating for a while, you have a lot in common and you are happy together. You think that maybe, just maybe, he might be the one. How can you be sure that you really are right for each other?

Successful relationships should be about mutual respect, support and affection. In the early months or years that you are together it can be difficult to objectively assess a relationship because you are so caught up in the romance. We asked clinical psychologist Ruth Ancer for the signs of a healthy relationship.

  • He introduces you to his friends and family and is interested in yours. When two people start building a future together all their relationships become intertwined. You have to become a part of his life, not a well-kept secret. If this hasn't happened it indicates a problem.
  • You are included in the big events and the small details of his life. In a committed relationship, at some point, you should become his automatic plus 1 at family and work events and you should also know his brand of toothpaste and when he needs a new pair of shoes. This doesn't mean that you have to do every little thing with him, but there shouldn't be areas of mystery. Successful relationships are about trust and openness. 
  • He respects the things that are important to you. If he is dismissive of your priorities he could turn out to be critical or controlling later.
  • You have similar long-term goals, like when you want to have children or where you want to live. This is very important, because if you are headed in different directions there will be conflict. One of you will have to make significant compromise or you will eventually grow apart.
  • You can communicate openly. You are not afraid to share your feelings and discuss concerns with him.
  • You have good fights. Fighting is important and inevitable. It is how you deal with it that makes or breaks your relationship. You work through conflict with each other in ways that do not do any damage and that bring the conflict to rapid resolution. And you are both willing and able to apologise for your part in the fight.
  • You both feel the same way about your relationship and where it is going. At some point you are going to want to know where your relationship is going. If you feel that the time is right for more commitment you can try asking subtle questions about his future, but if you really need a clear answer then ask him directly.
  • You feel that you are a priority in his life. He must make you feel as though you and your needs are important to him. That is not to say that you are his only priority, just that he should make some of his decisions based on your needs and requirements.
  • You should have compatible values. When the first flush of romance fades and you start building a future together it will be built on your moral and ethical codes. If there is any disagreement in these areas try to consider the impact it will have in the future, for instance, when you have children.
  • You should be compatible sexually. From whether you like to show affection in public right down to how often you enjoy sex you need to feel the same way about what is an essential part of any relationship.
  • You bring out the best in each other and you want the other person to reach their full potential. You are fast becoming the most important person in each other's lives. If you don't want to help your partner be the best that they can be then the relationship is not healthy.
  • He has disappointed you, but you still respect him. In the early stages of a relationship you assume a lot about the person you are dating. When you learn about his imperfections you should still be committed to the real person behind the projection.

Take a careful look at these pointers and measure your own relationship to work out if you are getting what you need or compromising your own happiness as you start to make plans for the future.  And remember that relationships are a two-way street so be sure to give your partner everything you expect from him.

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