With the holidays approaching, this is a very popular time of year for couples to get engaged while surrounded by family and friends– but just make sure you are doing for the right reasons, and not because you have fallen in love with the idea of getting married.   Remember, the party only lasts a day, but the commitment is supposed to last a lifetime, in both good and bad times.  While none of us can predict with 100% accuracy if a marriage will go the full distance, here are some clear signs you are off to a really bad start:

1. If you think getting engaged will make things better.  Seriously?  The dating phase is normally the best part– it is when people are actually on their best behavior and making an effort to please you.  If you are not on solid ground now, don’t expect the ring to magically make things better.  No object will ever have that kind of power.

2.  If you think nothing better will come along.  Just because no one has come along and wowed you yet, doesn’t mean you should settle now.  Don’t fall victim to the sunken cost theory.  I know it can get tiring to keep playing the Dating Game, but then just take a break, regroup, and maybe find new ways to invest your time and energy.

3. If you just want to have a baby and the clock is ticking.  There are plenty of alternatives out there rather than just marrying someone to have a child.  If you want to bring up a child in a loving and intact family, then you need to be in a solid place long before you ever start trying to have a kid together.  Research shows that couples with newborns experience approximately a 60% reduction in satisfaction during that first year– no surprise, when you are sleep deprived, your hormones are out of whack, and the demands of your time, money and energy have now quadrupled while leaving almost no time for the couple to just enjoy each other.

4. If you feel it is simply what is expected of you.  Who cares what others “expect” of you?  This is your life, and you are the only one that will be playing house with that other person every single day.  Those that truly love you will want you to be happy, which means doing what works for you.

5. If you think it makes economic sense to join forces.  The choice to marry should be one of your greatest acts of freewill, and not something you do out of economic necessity.  This is the 21st century after all, and there are many other ways you can save money or cut expenses that don’t require you to take a stroll down the aisle and commit yourself to someone for the rest of your life.

If any of these 5 reasons resonate with you, I’m sure you have noticed other things going on– like you cannot sleep or focus, you have less energy these days or perhaps your eating habits are off.  Is there an increased feeling of dread or imminent doom?  Our unsettled feelings have a funny way of manifesting themselves physically, whether we like it or not– it is nature’s way of not letting you ignore that something is not right.

In the end, only you can decide what is right for you– but take your time and listen to your heart.  Is it jumping for joy or racing in a state of panic?  Hopefully it is the former, for fear should never be the reason to bind yourself to another– fear is dark and cold, and it kills any possibility for love and hope to prosper.