Wouldn’t it be great if your marriage came with some kind of guarantee? Like “if you’re not satisfied with your partner, you can exchange him for one with all the qualities you thought you were getting when you first said I do.”
Well, it doesn’t.
When it comes to marriages, it is much more of a “buyer beware,” or “final sale” mentality, so you better be sure you are careful and honest with yourself about what you are getting into.
With all the focus on hearts this month, I thought it timely to discuss the importance of approaching any long-term relationship with some level of thought and methodology. I’m not saying take out a pen and paper and perform a pros and cons analysis. I am simply warning you from getting caught up in the romance, and ignoring the voice of reason telling you to run while you still can.
Before you write me off as a doom and gloom pessimist, realize this is my business.
I see clients every day who entered their marriage with the same hopes and dreams as any newlywed. Sometimes the reasons for the marriage ending were truly inevitable, and sometimes I believe they could have been avoided.
Before You Say I Do Consider These:
Marriage Will NOT Change Them – If something he/she does really bothers you, understand it is something that will most likely continue. Marriage is not going to “tame” your partner. If he flirts, he will still flirt. If she likes to go out more than you, that too will continue. If he is financially irresponsible, he won’t suddenly balance his bank account every night. Lastly, if either partner has had a habit of cheating, there’s a good chance that it will happen again. Putting a ring on his finger will not suddenly turn him into the partner you want him to be. Make sure those qualities are there before you ever give out your ring size.
Don’t Have The Savior Mentality – You are saving him/her. That’s great. It’s nice to feel needed. But marriage should be a two way street. You should need him just as much as he needs you. If you are marrying because your partner has endured a crisis that you are rescuing him/her from, wait a while. See if the fire is still burning once the heat of the crisis has passed. It’s true marriage transports you from one life (the single life) into another. But the most successful marriages occur when each partner is independently strong and marriage only strengthens them. Marriage should be a commitment, not a solution.
Listen To Your Gut – Those may not be butterflies every time he texts or picks you up to go out. It may have more to do with your body sending you a warning sign. Is there something you are worried about? Is there something you don’t trust? Is there a subject you are afraid to broach? These are all signals you need to fully address before committing.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an anti-Hallmark blog. I am all for romance and relationships between the right people. I just believe it is critical that the wrong people don’t “try to make it work” with a legal commitment. I firmly believe that the underlying makeup of a person does not change no matter how many promises made, apologies given, and fresh starts taken. Behaviors may change, and with treatment these changes may last. But this is the exception, and only you can decide if it is a risk you are willing to take.
As in any long-term investment, marriage is a serious decision. It should not be made on the spur of the moment surrounded by flowers, wine, and expectant family members. By the time a proposal comes, you should have thought through what it will be like to be married to this person, exactly how they are, for the next 5, 10, 20 30,…… years. Then, and only then, will you be able to give an answer that is both from your heart and your head.