Monday, June 9, 2008
With divorce rates soaring to just over 40%, and people living well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s, tying the knot might seem more intimidating than ever. However, by understanding what marriage entails and clarifying your expectations, you can overcome your nuptial-phobia and make an informed decision on whether or not to get married.
Determine what exactly you are scared of. Most people don't fear marriage itself but rather, its implications and its potential failure. What are you worried will change? What's the worst possible scenario that's paralyzing your views on marriage?
Address your fears. If your parents had a bad marriage, understand that every marriage is different, and just because theirs wasn't healthy doesn't mean yours can't be. If you're worried about the marriage falling apart, make a list in your mind of what you can and will do to make the marriage work. Imagine all the scenarios that make you scared and then, imagine what you will do in that specific situation to make it better.
Talk it over. Ask anybody you know of in a successful marriage to tell you their secrets. Usually it's something like, "We overlook each other's minor bad habits." But most of all, express your concerns to your partner. This is the perfect opportunity to exercise the communication skills that are essential for any healthy relationship to last, and your partner should be understanding and helpful.
A good nugget of wisdom to remember is that you shouldn't marry the person you know you can live with for the rest of your life; marry the one whom you can't imagine yourself living without.
Think about what marriage enables that you (and others in your life, such as your family members) would not have otherwise-- and also what it changes that you would have otherwise.
Realize that you are not going to live in harmony every second of every day you are married. You are not perfect, and neither is your partner, married or not. If you're waiting to be with someone with whom every day is rainbows and sunshine, you'll never settle down or get married because no one will ever be able to live up to that illusion. Marriage is hard work and it takes your whole life to complete it. Too many people get married with the expectation that if things start to get tough, they'll just file for divorce and start all over again. Be prepared for the bumps in the road, and don't be surprised when you come across them.
Plan your life. Sit down and iron things out before you get married. Will you have children? How many? Who will manage the money? Will both spouses work? How much will you save for retirement? Where will you live? Who gets which responsibility? If the husband can still go out to bars with his buddies, can the wife still do the same? These are the difficult yet practical questions to ask before you commit yourself to somebody for the rest of your life. Don't discover the answers the hard way, when there's already a ring on your finger. It's better to foresee conflict and prevent it. If you have a healthy relationship, the questioning process will bring you closer.
The top 3 three causes of divorce are disagreements on money, religion, and children, in that order. Do your best ahead of time to make sure you're on the same page to the maximum extent possible, and you'll go a long way to evening the long-term odds. Have in-depth conversations about expectations, beliefs, hopes, timing, planning... the more you know about one another and the fewer surprises you have on important subjects, the better!
Disagreements are normal in any relationship! It is healthy and a lot can be learned from them. Do your best to listen to the other's point of view and express your concerns with love and respect.
Not all choices are right, but you still have to make them.
Consider that if you allow your fear of marriage to prevent you from settling down, you might be single for the rest of your life. *Strongly consider going to marital counseling with your significant other. The information and frank discussion with a third party professional can be invaluable in helping you make the best of your marriage.
Think of all the wonderful parts of marriage. Being with the one you love.
Consider your sexual activities and their influence on your attitudes toward marriage. For some people, sex outside of marriage can unconsciously devalue the committed marriage relationship. Living by the principle of no sex outside of marriage has helped many people value faithfulness in their relationships and give partners a knowledge of true uniqueness to each other. For others, it has delayed knowledge about their partner that was cruical to the decision to stay together. Remember that sexuality has a part to play in your relationship, and that your attitude to it will affect your relationsip, no matter what choice you make.
If you absolutely cannot shake your fear of marriage, let your significant other know your feelings. You do run the risk of losing the relationship by doing this.