You've got the ring and set a date. Congratulations! But is it too late to take a little inventory and make sure your journey into holy matrimony has a viable road map? Or, have you at least decided to take the plunge with an appropriate partner? How do you know if you've found the right one and are really ready to settle down, or if you've found yourself caught up in right now and are simply settling?

How you can ensure you are entering the right marriage for you:

Don't forget the checklist

. You probably have a shortlist of must-haves and deal breakers when it comes to settling down with your soul mate. But what about your wants and wishes? Don't forget about the fine print. Focusing only on your concrete needs and not on your deeper desires can leave little cracks in your relationship that can expand into one giant rift 20 years down the road. Don't hold out for washboard abs or a 24 inch waist. But, if you love being touched and tickled on a daily basis, don't give that up just because your hubby brings home the bacon.

Start with a spark -

or, you may end with a bang. There's nothing like a little ignition to rekindle a dying flame in a relationship. That twinkle in his eyes. That shiver in your spine. It's harder to start a fire in your heart than keep a burning love going. So ask yourself:

  • Do you tingle when he touches you?

  • Does your heart skip a beat when she walks in the room?

  • Do you feel warm and fuzzy when you hear his voice?

  • Does she brighten your day, every day?

If so, great. If not, get on it! Or, at least decide if these things are important to you. If so, it may be time to make some changes in your relationship, or to your list.

Sharing is caring

. Connect, or reconnect over things you like and love. If they are unfamiliar, teach them. If you are inexperienced, be willing to learn. Being able to experience the joys and trials of life will bond you together and help cement your love for each other. Or, it may become a tedious never-ending task list you'd rather trudge through alone, or in the company of someone else. If you feel like moving through life with your partner could become a grinding chore, you may need to reevaluate the decisions you made in your life and love.

Good company

. Make sure your true love is good company. The perfect travel companion doesn't just accompany you on trips domestic and abroad, they usher you through life. For an unbreakable alliance, make sure your partner is a:

  • Friend

  • Ally

  • Supporter

  • Cheerleader

  • Guide

  • Listening ear

  • Soft shoulder

  • Safe haven

This little checklist will help you discover if you plan to, or already have, settled down or just settled. When you settle, you:

  • Give up the things you love

  • Put his wants above your needs

  • Make her your world

  • Change your aspirations to his

  • Fall out of love with your inner or outer self

  • Forget about your dreams or defer your dreams for hers

  • Forget who you are and let him decide who you are

  • Ignore your inner calling or adapt your inner calling to hers

Keep in mind, settling is something you decided. You may not have known what it was at the time; likely deferring to old adages and motherly advice. But it is important not to blame your partner if your find yourself becoming hot and bothered at this unwelcome realization. Your partner probably didn't know you were settling either. So, don't take it out on him or her. Take responsibility for the choices you've made and focus on creating a brighter future, instead of rewriting the past.

If you realize you may have settled in your current relationship, fear not. There is hope. You can learn to assert yourself and become the person you want to be on your own, and in the relationship that is right for you. There is no one perfect or right relationship for everyone. But there is one that works best for you both. Find and enjoy it, today. No more settling for less!

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