A Partial Look Before You Leap

Knowing yourself is every bit as important as knowing your beloved.  People expect to BE happy but since statistics tell us one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, what THEN happens?

Here are some questions to ponder before you say “I Do”.

  1. First and foremost, do you KNOW YOURSELF well?  Do you pay attention to your “inner voice”?  Answering questions candidly, even if it makes you uncomfortable will be the most helpful.
  2. How would you describe a Happy Marriage?  How did you create your personal definition?  Romantic novels and movies create unrealistic expectations of long-term healthy relationships.  What was your mother and father’s marriage like?  Are you trying to duplicate it or pick exactly the opposite?
  3.  Are you getting married to be “married” rather than single?  Are you lonely or frightened and hope that marriage will make these feelings go away?   Are you settling for a relationship where there are red flags and doubts but you feel like this is the best you can do?
  4.  Most often after a year or two in the relationship most people will identify things that are distressing, uncomfortable or disappointing.  Please, pay close attention! Ask yourself, is this really O.K. for the long haul?

Marrying with the hope of changing your partner or thinking that a bad habit will disappear or get better “once we are married” is almost always a fallacy.  This trait or issue will not disappear  (it most often gets bigger) unless the bearer of the problem is intent on making a significant change.  Residing quietly in every relationship are the clues that will be the potential problems.  And honestly, they are ALWAYS present early on.  We often do not let ourselves see them or admit to them because they might disrupt the goal of WANTING to be married whether or not the right applicant has been found.  Remember, we bring our ‘Best Sunday Self’ to the beginning of every relationship’.  However, it is guaranteed that our (less than perfect) ‘Every Day Self’ will emerge within 18 -24 months of marriage.  This is not necessarily a bad thing if, our ‘shiny best self’ is not too different from our ‘everyday’ real self.   If the differences are glaring, then disappointments and trouble will start to brew.  Issues over Money, Sex, Partnership/Parenting Expectations, and major cultural differences are the common areas that ‘Relationship Erosion’ takes place.

Do you feel comfortable and truly LIKE your intended spouse?  Of course, no one is perfect and there will always be differences.   How do you resolve the small ‘upsets’ that occur early in relationships?  Enduring relationships require a ‘good enough’ initial match and then a willingness to continue a collaborative conversation throughout the years.  The ceremony and certificate is the first hundred yards of a marathon.  In time, life, and love, will most definitely have its highs and lows. If recurring issues are not worked out…they will return again in one form or another.  Effective Listening, Non Defensive Conversation and Willingness to Compromise are required in order to smooth out the occasional bumps.  In a healthy relationship, these little “glitches” simply get “metabolized” or worked through…allowing the couple to return to a comfortable, stable and pleasant married life.   Research has found that in “The Resolution” of the occasional discomforts that accompany two people making a healthy life together is the glue that creates the strongest and most lasting love! Long Live Lively and Lasting Love!

Author: Dr. Karen Dean Fritts, Ph.D., LMFT