After two divorces, I'll never marry again. But if I do...
I'll trust my head more than my heart. I'll keep in mind that marriage is more about commitment and endurance than affection and compatibility.
Marriage is a contract between two parties -- not an extended date. I'll exhaustively examine myself and the other person. Why do I want to get married? Why does she want to get married?
To help us answer these questions, I'll insist that we get pre-marital counseling.
If she hesitates, that's all right. I'll try my best to understand her concerns and address them. I'll be flexible on the type and duration of counseling. But I will not marry without counseling. Period.
Think about it. Before you buy a house, you get it inspected. You want an expert to check the foundation, heating and cooling systems, plumbing and wiring.
In the same way, both parties to a marriage should submit to a thorough inspection. An inspector (the counselor) should crawl around the nooks and crannies of each person's life - shining a flashlight here and there, pointing out areas of concern to the other person.
If one person backs out of the deal during counseling, fine. The marriage wasn't meant to be. It wouldn't have lasted.
Now, a house doesn't have to be perfect before you'll take it. Neither does the person you're considering marrying.
But you have to know what you're getting. And the other person has to know what they're getting.
During the inspection process (counseling), you want to eliminate as many surprises as possible should you choose to marry.
You can never eliminate all the surprises. You're going to encounter leaky faucets and doors that jam in your marriage. They can be fixed. But a shoddy foundation that causes the entire house to fall over - now you've got a problem.
Many people who get married don't ask hard questions first. They're so much in love they don't see the need. I know. I've made that mistake twice.
As a result, I may be overly cautious and analytical. So be it. I'm not going to change.
Let me say, I know people who married after only a few months of dating without any counseling. And they're still in love years later. I commend them. Some people strike marriage gold.
I'm not one of those people. I've been a sucker for fool's gold. My marriage instincts are horrible. That's why I won't trust my heart next time.
If I marry again (emphasis on if), I'll take an entirely different approach. Marriage can be great - but it can be a living hell too.
In my house analogy, it's easy to get rid of a house you dislike.
It's far more painful to abandon a marriage you regret.