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There is one major discussion that I keep having with Mr. Perfect about our relationship that I think a lot of couples have. It’s about the future–yes, that scary, nebulous, unformed thing that is always in the distance, always alluding you, until you make plans for it, and then somehow you wake up in the midst of it. In an ideal world, perfect and balanced, we would all go about our lives, advancing in our careers and crossing things off of our to do list until we got into the perfect position to meet someone and pursue a relationship. We would then decide to marry this acceptable person. We would have the money, the home, the career, and everything we felt was necessary to begin our lives together.

However, we do not live in a perfect world. Many of us had ideas of the positions we wanted to be in before marriage that would take us many more years to accomplish than we first expected. Laden with student loans that keep our debt to income ratio high, poor credit scores that make qualifying for home loans impossible, employers so scared by the current economic crisis they won’t promote or give sufficient raises, and too uncertain a future to risk going back to school or taking a sabbatical to write that book you’ve been meaning to, we are faced with the choice of putting off love and marriage or starting out with less than idealistic conditions.

I’ve heard the “two is better than one” argument for getting married and working together to improve your situation and prospects. Mr. Perfect leans towards the “I can’t concentrate on the thought of marriage and family until I get A, B, & C done.” I’ve weighed the merits of building a life together versus having a life that you welcome a significant other into. I’ve seen people marry in their late twenties and thirties, having built their careers and had their own houses, struggle to sell one of their homes and generally adjust to someone else having an opinion or say so in their day to day lives. What is a young couple to do?

I firmly believe that all plans for the future should have flexibility and contingency plans. I would love to be a debt free homeowner with an established career and have written a book before I’m married, sure, but realistically, I’m nearly 26 with 30k of student loan debt, mild to moderately jacked up credit, no agent, and no time to query or write synopses, nor extra money for entry fees, reading fees, and etc. I can’t justify getting my MFA at the moment, and going for a Master’s of Library science (my second choice) is not something I’d be able to afford without a library that hired me helping to pay for it. There are a lot of years between me and my ideal position, and all the while, my window for developing a solid marital foundation before the addition of children is steadily closing. People will pass me by as well.

How do you strike a balance between being in a position to welcome/accept the progression of a relationship to marriage with the flexibility to take a leap of faith with the right person despite your position?

My position is it boils down to mental preparation. If you are open to love and decided on the individual, both of you can work on progressing as an interdependent, self-supporting unit. If you aren’t mentally ready, that’s another thing altogether. But I wouldn’t let timing keep me from solidifying me future into a fulfilling experience that includes us and our dreams as well as my dreams.

But what do you all think? How did your love stories come together, or fall apart? What really turned out to be important? On which side of the debate between material preparedness and leap of faith do you fall down?