Perhaps you've been in the same relationship for a while and are wondering whether or not to progress to the next stage. Or maybe you are just starting out with a new partner and are hoping it will end with walking up the aisle.

Whichever applies to you, it's important to weigh up your feelings and thoughts before you finally say “I do”. Taking the time to reflect now can be key to your happiness in the long term.

Remember, it is essential to protect your emotional well-being and future happiness, so consider the situation carefully before leaping into something you may eventually regret.

You are sure to thank yourself one day if you take the time to fully examine your options now.

Here are 19 issues to bear in mind and to answer honestly when deciding whether or not it's time for you to take the plunge.

1. The Best You Can Be

You may promise to love each other for better or for worse during your ceremony, however, do you find that your partner genuinely wants you to become the very best person you can possibly be?

Do they sacrifice their own desires and needs for your sake if necessary, and raise you up when times are hard?

If your partner feels threatened by your success, blames you when things go wrong and fails to support you when the going gets tough, you should be concerned about the future of your relationship.

2. Accepting Each Other

None of us are perfect, and we all know that people can and do change over time.

But can you truly accept your partner for who they really are?

Do you struggle to accept certain facets of their personality and will this negatively impact upon your relationship in the long term?

On the flip side, are you unconditionally accepted by your partner, without them judging you for your faults or weaknesses?

3. Accepting Yourself

Are you in touch with yourself? Do you know where you're heading in life? Are you certain of your views and interests?

If you don't truly know yourself, how can you be certain that your partner's truly the one for you?

4. Does Your Relationship Make You Happy?

When you make the decision to share your life with someone, it isn't with the purpose of finding someone who makes you happy.

Happiness is something you should have enjoyed before you ever entered into your relationship.

If you enter into marriage in the belief that it will cure the unhappiness in your life, you will almost certainly be on the path to failure.

Marriage is not something that can rectify unhappiness, and if you are unhappy in your relationship for any reason, it is a good sign that you may need to undergo some counselling before taking your partnership to the next level.

5. Trapped in a Web

Are you entirely committed to the relationship or are you always looking for a way out?

Do you have any doubts about your partner?

Are you looking for an excuse for not settling down, such as career or financial reasons?

It's worth bearing in mind that if you are ready to fully commit to your partner, there is nothing that would prevent you from wanting to get that ring on the finger.

6. Are You Holding Back?

Do you put in 100% effort when it comes to your partner, or do you find that you're holding back?

Do you find that your partner inspires you to go all out to make them happy?

Do you plan ahead for key events like Valentine's Day or your anniversary, searching for the most special gift ideas to show them how much they are loved?

Or do you allow these milestones to pass by without paying too much attention?

If you're failing to put in enough effort, this could be because your partner is just not that important to you.

Also, conversely, does your partner put in 100% effort for you, or do you feel that they have a distinct lack of enthusiasm?

7. Do You Have Balance?

Do you have balance when it comes to the vital areas of caring, support and compromise?

Or do you find that one of you is always giving while the other is always taking?

If you can't achieve balance, you can have no future together.

8. Do You Have Good Times?

Do you and your partner enjoy yourselves and have a laugh, even if you are doing an activity that wouldn't be your first choice?

If your partner is the one with whom you are determined to spend your life, you will be happy with them, no matter what activity you are participating in together.

9. Are You Secure Apart?

Can you enjoy spending time apart without any feelings of dependence, anxiety or suspicion?

Feeling secure and having trust in each other is essential to the long term success of any relationship.

10. Are You Secure On Your Own?

Are you only in your relationship because you're afraid to be alone, or is your partnership based on mutual respect, love and trust?

You must be comfortable to be on your own, independent of other people, before knowing that you've chosen the right person with whom to spend your life.

11. Long-Term Plans

Have you got long-term plans for the future of your relationship, or are you just living in the moment, day to day?

If you're still saying that you want to enjoy things one day at a time without looking to where your relationship is heading, you may not have found the right person to spend your life with.

12. Genuine Goodness

Do you believe that your partner is genuinely good, and would you vouch for them whatever the circumstances?

Sometimes when you're deeply in love, you are happy to overlook even the biggest faults that can point to your partner's lack of moral values.

If you find that you love your partner, but don't like them very much, you should re-evaluate your relationship.

13. Physical Attraction

Do you still find yourself attracted to your partner, or is the intimacy nothing but a memory?

Although physical attractiveness becomes less important as time goes on, if you've lost all passion for your partner, this can only lead to resentment, rejection or both.

14. Parent or Child?

Are you playing the role of a child, an adult or a parent within your relationship?

In all partnerships, each one of the pair will take turns to play various roles from time-to-time, including nurse, teacher and counsellor. However if you seem to have permanently fallen into the caring or parental role, or any other leading role, the dynamic between you will lose its equality and respect levels will inevitably suffer.

If this continues, the relationship is sure to decline as it's important for each of you to relate to the other on an equal footing as adults.

It is only in this way that mutual ongoing respect can be ensured.

15. Part of the Team

Do both of you make up a strong team, glued together by support, unity and loyalty, or do you find that you feel criticised, judged and undermined?

The latter is part of a recipe for failure in the long-term.

16. On the Same Page

Do you share the same views as your partner on key matters like religion, politics and children?

If your viewpoints differ dramatically on any of these issues, it can represent a huge obstacle for your future, and could even tear your relationship apart.

17. Growing as a Couple

Do you and your partner allow each other space for growth as individuals and yet ensure that you spend enough time with each other to grow as a couple?

It is essential that each of your own identities remain independent, without being governed by your partner's hobbies, interests and opinions.

When you are comfortable with yourself as an individual and can function as a separate entity from your partner, your personal development can continue on its own path throughout the life of your relationship.

18. Lost in Love

Continuing on from the previous point, can you still be who you want to be while you remain in love with your partner?

Sometimes we can lose ourselves in love because of our desire to please and be with our partner.

However, in the end, you must return and be yourself, otherwise you run the risk of losing yourself forever.

19. Basic Instinct

At the deepest level, do you believe that you're paying enough attention to your instincts and intuition about your relationship?

Do you sometimes have doubts about your partnership, even if you can't quite identify the reasons why you have those feelings?

It's possible that there may be nothing wrong in your relationship, however, it's also possible that your gut instincts are warning you for a reason.

Whichever case is true, you must take the time to determine whether or not you have any cause for concern or doubt.

Once you know why you feel that way, you can decide whether or not you should pursue your relationship to the next level.

When Should You Walk Away?

If you have read this article and realised that you have concerns or doubts about taking your relationship to the next stage, it's time for you to do some research, hard thinking and soul searching before you take the final decision to get married.