I've been thinking off and on over the past few years about what it means to be "ready" for marriage.
Back when I was dating B, I felt like I was ready. Then when we broke up (it was the friendliest breakup ever, and we are still very good friends - and I like his wife even more than him! :P) I realized some things about myself that made me conclude that maybe I wasn't ready. Mostly it was my selfishness. Not huge, gross, hoarding, all-for-me selfishness, but the kind we all suffer from: we're all so addicted to ourselves, and to really put another person first in a relationship is SO hard. I realized that I needed to be able to just let it go when he did things differently than me. I had slipped into not respecting him in some areas because he did things differently than I thought he should, or because of a few things he did I thought were, well, wussy. They weren't, his actions were just a reflection of a different outlook, but you see how that kind of thinking could get me in trouble in the "respecting B" department. And it's funny, now that I am in a similar situation as he was in when we were together, I do many of the things that I gave him such a hard time for, because, well, they just make sense (well, not the "wussy" things ;) !
Over the last four years, I've had lots of time to reflect and to grow as a person. I've done that to some extent - the past few years have been an amazing time of growth and change for me as I've come to learn so much about who I am, what I value, and of course, things I still need to work on. My close Christian friends have been an invaluable source of insight and challenge in that (oh yeah, and I'm a Christian, by the way! :D ). But it's funny, I feel so much less ready for marriage than I did four years ago. It's not a feeling that, "oh, I love my single life, I don't want to give that up!" but rather an awareness that I need to work on developing my character more before I would be ready to share my life in such an intimate way with another person. Maybe it's just because I know myself better now than I did before and am more aware of things that I need to work on. It is a good thing, I think, to have an awareness of both the of your personality that are strong and the aspects that need to be refined. But am I ready for the level of selflessness that marriage requires?
The other big pressing question (similar to the quandary I was left with in my "Needed: A Change in the Way I Think" post) is what does it even mean to be ready for marriage? Is a person ever ready? Maybe that's why it's so often referred to as "taking the plunge!" :D
If being ready means having an awareness that marriage is NOT a fairy tale, but rather that it is hard, takes lots and lots of work, requires the highest level of selflessness of any relationship short of being a parent, yet can still be so deeply satisfying and overall is a wonderful thing, then I suppose I'm ready. I have a romantic notion of marriage in many ways, yes, and think that's a good thing, but I'm also aware that getting married is not the easy route, will not solve all my problems, and is never ever EVER what I should rely on for my soul's satisfaction. If awareness is all that's needed, well then I'm there (though I'm sure my notions of marriage will continue to develop and change over my lifetime).
If, however, practical application of this awareness is required, then I guess I'm staying single for the rest of my life, cause I'll NEVER be able to fully apply all of that. I think I'm safe, though, cause I don't think anyone else is able to do that either, and there are lots of healthy, happy marriages in this world. Selflessness, working out issues, and even learning to love another person more completely are all things that can be learned on the go, thank goodness!
I want to learn those things and develop my character in that way. I just need to find the person I want to do that with!