Whether you’re considering a second date or a second honeymoon, moving forward is a big risk. If you carefully examine your motivations, set realistic expectations and weigh sacrifices with gains, you’ll know when you’re ready to take the next step. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make the leap.
1. Why do I want to take the next step?
Whether the next step includes having dinner or having a baby, it’s important to think about why you want to move forward. Is it something you really want – or are you just doing what seems right to everyone else?
Instead of listening to other people, pay attention to what you want. If you’re considering getting engaged, ask yourself if you really want to get married or you’re just sick of your mom asking when you’re going to make it legal. If you’re thinking about getting remarried to your longtime spouse, consider whether it’s really important to you – or if you’re just doing it because it’s what people expect you to do on your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
Friends and family always seem to have an opinion about when it’s time for you to take the next step. But at the end of the day, only you can decide when you’re ready to move forward.
2. How will things change?
Whether you’re moving away together after decades of marriage or moving in together after months of dating, things are bound to change when you take a leap forward as a couple. As you begin to plan for the future, take a look at what you like about your relationship and consider how that might be affected by the next step. While it’s natural to paint a rosy picture of the future, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your partner about the realities of change.
Consider how the change will impact your relationship – and the rest of your life. Will you still have enough alone time? Will you have time for other friends and family? Will you get sick of spending so much time with your partner? Taking the next step can be an incredibly exciting moment in a relationship. But be sure to carefully consider how things will change once it happens – or you may end up taking a step back for every two steps forward.
3. How will things stay the same?
It’s also important to remember that although some things will change, a lot will stay the same. The conflicts you had before will still exist – and in some cases, they’ll be amplified by the new level of the relationship. Moving in together is not going to magically repair a relationship damaged by trust issues. And having a baby is not a good way to test how committed your partner is to you.
If you’re taking the next step in order to fix a problem, you’ll probably just end up with more problems. Instead, hold off on moving forward until you’ve had time to thoughtfully examine your issues and work to improve the relationship.
4. What will I lose?
Sometimes in the excitement of moving forward, you don’t really take the time to think about what you’ll be giving up. When you first start dating someone you really like, it’s natural to look forward to settling down together. But if you take that step too soon, you may end up cheating yourself out of the magic of courtship. If you’re thinking about having a baby, consider the personal and couple time you’ll be giving up. If you’re ready to make those sacrifices, you’re ready to take the next step. If not, you may need to rethink your plans.
5. What will I gain?
Of course the most important thing to consider is what you’ll gain by taking the next step. If you move in together, you may able to spend more time together and deepen your relationship. If you have a baby, you might be headed on one of the life’s most wonderful journeys. If you decide to renew your wedding vows, you could be opening a whole new chapter in your life together. When you take the next step thoughtfully, you can receive some of the best rewards life has to offer.
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