So you think you’re ready for marriage? How do you know? Like any commitment, it’s something you choose, make the leap for, and stick to – plus, admittedly, learn the ropes as you go along. But if a readiness factor could be measured, I can think of a few pre-requisites that are non-negotiable in my books, inspired by a few articles (such as this one) that I’ve come across recently:

You’re aware of your worth.

We all have our own insecurities and fears, but at the end of the day we should know that we are valuable and believe it without needing a relationship to confirm it. Loving yourself, as silly and cliché as it may sound, is about having the self-esteem to actually bring something to a relationship rather than use it to fulfil your own needs. Awareness of your own worth also means that you won’t let anyone mistreat you.

You’re in the relationship for the right reasons.

Further on from the first point, you’re with your significant other for long-lasting, non-shallow reasons. You know why you love them, and you’re totally cool with (and extremely happy about) not dating anybody else ever again – full stop. You respect, love, trust, and value the person you are with, and are not just in this because of other reasons such as a fear of being alone, financial needs, or the difficulty of having to walk away from life as you currently know it.

You want the same things in life and have the same values.

Life is a long time. You want to be headed in the same direction. While not everyone you know has to have the same morals as you, you’d hope you’d be on the same wavelength as the person that you’ll raise a family and grow old with. And I’m talking about agreeing on the big issues here (it’s all good if you prefer chocolate ice-cream and he wants strawberry. That’s cool). And if you currently don’t agree on something that’s a big deal, I’d suggest talking it out earlier rather than later, and coming to some kind of agreement or compromise now. After all, marriage is hard enough as it is!

You’re a team. 

Sure, there should definitely be time to enjoy your own interests and see your own friends, but overall you’re a partnership. Big decisions (and lots of small ones too) affect you both, and you both should know it. The other’s success is yours and vice versa – you celebrate each other’s accomplishments. And you’re united on all fronts – if you have an issue, you discuss it directly with each other, not with or in front of other people.

You’re proud of them.

Not only were you super proud to first introduce them to your family and friends, but you’re still super proud that they’re your other half. You really admire this person and look up to them, they inspire you to be your best too, and you speak well of them to others. And of course, they should feel the same way about you too.

You bring out the best in each other. 

Do they respect and support what you want for your life, and are they helpful when it comes to you achieving that? Is their presence in your life something that’s getting you closer to the person you want to be, or do they hinder this? Some people want someone they can lord over, but I think this is problematic. The right person for you will tell you when you’re not at your best (even when it’s hard for them) and help you struggle to get there.

You’ve dealt with the tough stuff together.

Whether it’s coming out stronger after an argument or supporting each other through tough situations, it’s hasn’t all been a bed of roses and that’s a good thing. How else would you know how your other half deals with conflict or the worries of real life, and that they’ll stick with you through thick and thin? You need someone you can suffer with.

You’ve realised that a relationship is about giving, not getting.

It’s a simple thing but probably the most essential: a healthy relationship is one where both of you are giving and not sitting around waiting to get (and I’m not talking 50 per cent each, I’m talking about 100 per cent each!). You’ll never be happy if you’re not selfless (or at least working on being selfless, we’re not perfect after all).

You’re at peace.

When you’re alone, you’re not plagued with niggling doubts or anxiety about the relationship. After having a good time with them, you don’t get home and feel unexplainably flat. You’re sure that you’re doing the right thing by being with them and on top of this, the closest people to you, who know you well, don’t have big doubts about your relationship.

And to finish off, the words of a wise (now married, then engaged) friend of mine when I asked how she knew her husband was the right one for her: “If we had kids and then something happened to me, I know he’d bring up my kids exactly as I would.” Word!

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.