Getting married is a big step. Even starting a new relationship with someone is kind of like jumping into the pool feet first. Is there anything you can do to keep a relationship or marriage from ending badly? Is there anything you should know before getting married or starting a new relationship, so you can have the best chance at success? We think so! Here are a few things that intelligent people should consider before getting married.
Is Marriage Still A Valid Social Construct?
There are many people today that are quite jaded about the whole concept of marriage. The feel that one time was enough for them. Since they did not marry the "right" person to go the distance with the first time, they believe marriage is simply not for them.
They look upon marriage with disdain and feel that it is merely a trap and that most marriages either dissolve or that those who stick it out are not usually there because they "want" to be. I believe people with this point of view are not thinking outside of the box on this one. After all, if you had one bad job would you never take on another one again?
Holding onto angst and blame from a previous relationship only halts you from fulfilling any potential of a new and possibly better situation.
The Up Side Of Marriage
So what is the upside of marriage?
Marriage creates a true partnership and a strong foundation for all other areas of your life. A loving, happy marriage provides you with the support and courage that you need to pursue your dreams. It is a safe home base when the world gets to be too much and the ultimate source of self-expression.
Nothing will tell you more about yourself than your marriage but here are some things you may not have considered...
Love Yourself First
The most important thing you need to do before embarking on a long-term relationship or marriage is learning to love yourself first, flaws included. Many of us look for acceptance from others, when we haven't accepted ourselves yet. Unfortunately, we won't ever get the kind of acceptance we crave as human beings from another person unless we've done it ourselves first. Accept who you are, love yourself for who you are and other people will begin to do the same. Seeking outside approval is going to get you nowhere.
Honesty First - No Exceptions
It's a rare couple that feels safe being completely honest with one another on absolutely any topic. It's also rare that couples stay married for life! We feel that absolute honesty is crucial for a lifelong partnership.
If you can't be honest with each other and talk about absolutely any topic before you get married, then we say your marriage is in trouble from the start.
Don't Try To Fix The Other Person
The biggest problem in relationships and marriages is that a person doesn't fall in love with someone for who they are right now, they fall in love with who they think this person will be after they are "fixed." Many women try to change their boyfriends, partners and husbands after they've already gotten knee deep in the relationship. Men do it too, but it usually only ends in frustration and the dissolution of the relationship.
Don't think of how you can fix or change your partner, or that you'd love them if they just didn't do this one little thing... learn to love your partner for who they are right now, not who you think they will be. Long term relationships are difficult, but they always help us grow. Allow your partner to help you grow and vice versa, but recognize the difficulty involved before you jump in. A good, loving, satisfying relationship or marriage is never going to be easy. But nothing that is easy is worth having.
Attend Pre-Marriage Counseling
We recommend attending couples counseling before making a huge commitment. Just because you're in counseling doesn't mean anything is wrong in the relationship -- it's actually a great way to learn about your partner as well as learn about yourself, and learn about healthy ways to handle problems and disagreements that will inevitably come up in the future.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Thinking About Getting Married
Here are some great questions that you should ask yourself before getting married, with some input from from Andrew Wang, one of our featured columnists on AskDanAndJennifer.com.
Do You Agree About Major Topics?
Some things simply cannot be negotiated.
* You may want kids, but she does not.
* You're religious preference is Catholic and his is Buddhism.
* You have differing political beliefs.
* One of you has a much higher sex drive than the other.
* He is a risk taker and you prefer a substantial safety net.
How do you compromise on such a huge issues? Simply put, you don't. While minor stuff, like who does what chore, can be discussed and argued, the big one can't and will only get bigger over time. But make sure you are on the same track about such major issues as children, finances, religion, or sex -- or know in advance how you'll compromise.
Do You Communicate And Solve Problems Well?
Again and again, good communication is slated as the way to make a marriage last. Do you feel like you can talk about anything together, like you can handle anything when you work together? You must be willing to confide in this person, to share what is bothering you. Otherwise, the drift between you will grow with each year that passes and more words go unspoken.
Does She Know All Of Your Secrets?
It can be hard to take that step in revealing all the embarrassing things they may do when alone or dastardly events in your past about which few people may know. Even simple admissions like how much debt you owe. Are you comfortable sharing this information with her? Is there anything she isn't comfortable telling you, in return? Remember, honesty is key...
Do You Think It Will Last?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but surprisingly, I have heard many people say something along these lines: "everyone needs a starter marriage," usually followed by a shrug. If you don't plan to have this relationship last forever, why bother at all? Put that time and energy towards finding the one with whom you do see yourself growing old.
These are just a few tips and ideas to get you started and I'm not trying to talk you out of marriage or to scare you, only hoping that you'll be honest with yourself and your partner. This will at least get your new marriage started in the right direction. It's up to you to keep if there.
Follow Dan and Jennifer on twitter: www.twitter.com/DanAndJennifer