Ask Team Practical: How Do You Know?

Last week’s Ask Team Practical had me holding my breath, as I was sure the unanswerable question would pop up in the comments. I’ve gotten enough emails about it to know that it lingers in many minds.

Sure enough, it did. Dammit.

“How do you know?”

How do you know if you’re ready to marry? If you’re marrying the right person? If those once-in-awhile-doubts shouldn’t be trusted? How do you know you haven’t just been with so many jerks that any decent person who doesn’t spit in your face seems amazing?

The quick answer, of course, was readily spouted. “You’ll just know,” but I think that’s an incomplete answer. For some people, “You’ll just know,” is a deep-seated confidence. It’s contentment with the way things are, no question about the future. For others, it’s a bit more scattered and spotty, with brief sweaty moments of, “What if?!”

Because there’s such a range of certainty, I’d like to open it up to you guys. All of us have vastly different relationships, with varying degrees of certainty, different doubts and questions, and maybe a smattering of cold feet. How did you know?

I can start with my own story and then pass it off to you. We can chalk it up to “icebreaker,” but really, I just like to talk about myself.

Part of what made me certain that I was making a good choice is that our big picture goals lined up so neatly. There were a few differences, but ones that we were able to negotiate. In general, I found I was a better person around him. He made me want to try new things, and pursue the old with added vigor. He helped me feel like I was already a great lady and, because of that, I felt empowered to try harder to be an even better one. I also found I wasn’t lost without him. I was sad when he wasn’t around, but I didn’t feel dependent on him for my self-esteem, emotional health, or entertainment. We weren’t without our problems, but we both worked to fix them, together.

I wasn’t ready to get married when he was. All of our talks about marriage left me with a sticky, entangled feeling of, “I can’t wait!” and, “Holy crap, not yet!” One thing that helped me figure out when I was ready was setting a timeline for discussion, something I think I’ve talked about before. I didn’t say, “I’ll be ready to get married by X,” but I did say, “I’ll be ready to talk about it by X.” That gave me a bit of time to sort through my feelings and either realize I truly wasn’t ready, or adjust to the idea that I was. (Spoiler: I was ready.)

That’s my experience. I’m sure yours will be different, and I can’t wait to hear how.


Team Practical, how did you know that you were ready to get married? How did you know that you were marrying the right person? When they arise, how can you tell the difference between normal cold feet and the scary, foreboding kind of doubts? I’m interested to see our commonalities, but also our differences!

Photo: Kateryn Silva Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!


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