Everyone wants the fairytale: to fall in love, get married and live a happy long life together. Sometimes, in fact, it is that hope, that true wish, that drives people down the aisle even if there are questions. And believe me, everyone headed that way often has doubts in one form or another. Is that what happened with Kim Kardashian who recently filed for divorce after being married for just 72 days to NBA player Kris Humphries?
In some ways it is easy to see how she got swept away -- so many people do. Did she get caught up in the fantasy of it all, which in her case must have been exaggerated by the cameras and media attention? There was the wedding to plan, the dress to pick out, the invitations to send, the guest list, the honeymoon. So instead of considering possible future difficulties or, more important, seeking help, did Kim simply march naively down that long white runner toward her future husband? The fact that her life actually played out on television probably perpetuated her keeping her head in the sand. There was a blurred line between television and reality so that she may have had no idea of what it would take to sustain a marriage.
She told reporters that she got caught up in the drama of it all. That was more than likely the case. But still, there are things she could have done to prevent it from going this far. Her family has said Kris was mean and put her down. If that was the case, and she agreed with them, then why didn't she take those concerns seriously and confront the problem by either talking to Kris directly or asking him to join her in talking with a therapist?
Kim is not alone. So often people have cold feet for a variety of reasons, and yet, because the wedding has been planned, or the honeymoon has been paid for, they go ahead with it anyway, in spite of their concerns. They dismiss their fears and hope for the best, though marriage requires much more than that. Hope is important to carry you through, but actual work is what is needed to create a strong future together. And should you, like Kim, bail out two months later if you think you made a mistake?
As a marriage and family therapist I have seen many people ask this question. In fact, Kim's actions have prompted some of my patients to wonder that exact thing. My answer is not yet. Wait until you've attempted to sort out the problems to see if they can be dealt with before you make that final decision. You want to determine if you can get through them or if you have reached a breaking point where it is time to move on. You've come this far, so give yourself and your spouse the chance to work together to see if you have what it takes to carry on your joint life.
I am also asked if there are problems so early on in a relationship, is that a sign that it is not going to work out? Not necessarily. By dealing with issues at the beginning you can acquire coping skills that might actually help you through future rough spots. And often, this will help you become a team, and lead you to that all important "we" that is the crux of a healthy union.
Marriage is about sharing and compromise. It is about moving away from being an individual to being part of a couple. That means dealing with all sorts of issues including choosing where to live and deciding how many children to have. These are not easy details to resolve, and it takes real effort to do so. Kim cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for her divorce. Everyone has differences, to call them irreconcilable two months after you say, "I do," speaks to the fact that she and Kris were not trying but had, instead, ignored their differences. The fact that Kris said he was blindsided, that he didn't see it coming, simply supports the idea that they were not communicating. If they were, he would have known that she was unhappy and that, unless things changed, the marriage wouldn't survive.
Instead of letting this happen to you, seek help so that you can learn how to communicate effectively, manage your anger constructively and learn to compromise so you can find a healthy balance for the two of you. That way, you are giving you and your partner the opportunity to have your happily ever after.
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