Are you one of the people in the world that believe in soul mates? Do you feel as if you have met “The ONE?” Have you experienced the all too familiar butterflies in your stomach when you are around that special someone, and struggle to concentrate on anything besides time spent with them? If this describes you, my guess is, you may be considering marriage.

For those of you that are so caught up with the love bug that you are considering marriage, you may want to consider a couple of points before taking that stroll down the aisle. There are several things to think about when making a decision to tie the knot (besides the butterflies you experience).

When we are in love, we tend to function as someone that is intoxicated. That is, we don’t always make our best decisions while in the intense romantic phase of a relationship. When I say we are intoxicated, I mean that in a literal sense. Being in love actually causes our bodies to produce hormones that have the same affects as some drugs have on us. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a hormone produced in the brain during the early stages of love. It gives off a dose of Dopamine, which makes you feel high when you experience falling in love. I said all this just to say, decisions about marriage should probably be made when you are a little more stable in your thinking and have dated long enough to be annoyed by one another.

The stage where PEA is most dominate, usually lasts anywhere from two weeks to two years. This is why it is important (in my opinion) to spend time focusing on getting to know your love interest instead of going to the movies and, well, making out. I often encourage couples to have a list of characteristics they want in a mate and establish which ones are must haves. Now obviously no one will find someone that meets all of their criteria. I am not encouraging a list that consists of million dollar incomes and fast cars. However, I do think people should identify areas such as spiritual beliefs, and the number of children you would like to have. Does he/she have the ability to establish a stable household according to their current lifestyle? What are their basic life values? What is their basic view about marriage and family? What are their short and long term goals?

These questions are very important aspects of living a productive life with someone else. Unfortunately, love and lust doesn’t always lend us a hand in getting all the facts about a possible mate. Often times we are more concerned about how great they look in a pair of jeans, and how expensive the meal was that they provided on the last date. I often tell marriage hopefuls to attempt to date at least a year before making the announcement of an engagement. The word dating comes from the Latin word data. The definition of data is- Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions (American Heritage Dictionary). Your dating relationship should be just that, a time to collect information about a possible mate.

I also want to stress that I am not saying that you need to wait for someone who is flawless and perfect because you will be waiting a life time. Keep in mind that no one is perfect and we are all a work in progress. However, you should have an idea of what you truly desire in a mate and search for someone that comes close to your list. It is also important to understand that you should work at living according to the standard that you set for others. If you make it a priority for your mate to be clean and organized, you may want to make sure you have that quality yourself. Despite what people say, opposites usually do not attract. We tend to gravitate towards people that are like us or people that we want to be like.

So the next time you plan a hot exciting date, remember to take note of the more important aspects of dating. Love is very exciting and weddings are great to attend, but no one enjoys a disconnected relationship or a broken up family. Try to establish time to date according to the true definition of dating and make love last.

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