- Gender and Relationships
10 Things To Consider Before You Get Married
Some things change when you get married, and some don't . . .
Unmet expectations can ruin a marriage. The problem isn't your new spouse, its the unrealistic expectations that leave some people disappointed.
I'm not writing this lens because I have the answers, but I do hope you consider any of the material below that resonates with you.
Photo: Susiehan / photobucket
1. In Love with Love?
Sometimes its hard to tell who, or what, you are really in love with.
Romantic love feels so good, who wouldn't want to keep it going? But that's the thing. It doesn't keep going. I've experienced being in love with love and was ready to say yes if asked THE question. When my friend gravitated toward someone else I was hurt at first, but then realized I never wanted to spend my life with this person in the first place. I just loved being in love.
When it comes to marriage, love is not always a feeling. In marriage, love is at minimum 50% action. Its taking out the garbage, taking your turn to give a midnight feeding to junior, shopping for groceries, cleaning toilets, and buying new tires for the car. The wonderful feelings are waves on the beach coming in and going out. Sometimes the wave stays out a long time.
Oh, and about weddings. The planning process for many is exciting, and the anticipation of marrying keeps your emotions flying high. Then, the wedding day comes, and the ceremony is over in a flash. The party after is fun and a great way to celebrate with family and friends. In 12 hours, when you stumble out of bed to use the john, its all a good memory.
2. Green Now, Green Later
If you envy your partner in any way before the wedding, you will continue to envy them after. Sometimes that envy turns into irritation or criticism toward the one you envy. This is something to deal with before the "I do's". If you envy your betrothed, talk to them about it. Go into the marriage with your eyes and communication lines open.
If you are envious of what others have (materially or emotionally) before you're married, it will continue to bother you after. Again, that envy can turn to anger and put-downs. If you don't settle this issue in some way before the wedding you will likely blame your spouse for not living up to your expectations. Unexpressed expectations are most always trouble.
If something is so important to you that you don't think you can be happy without it, and your spouse is unable or unlikely to support you having it, rethink getting married.
Be Romantic and Realistic
3. Your Happiness is Not Your Spouse's Job
3It's not your loved ones job to MAKE you happy. That's your territory. Being with someone you're comfortable with, laugh with and share dreams with will make most people happy. But if you always count on your spouse to uplift your mood or make you feel better about life, you're expecting too much . . . and you're clingy.
Happiness comes and goes, as do all emotions and feelings. Its normal to be down sometimes and want or need comfort, but you also have to do and ask for things that lift you up - daily. People are happy when they accomplish something or do nice things for themselves. People are happy when they feel accepted by a group. People are generally happy when they share with others. Some like bubble baths or watching a football game. What floats your boat?
If your fiance is the clinging vine, if he/she frequently in the dumps or often expects to be entertained, you will be living with that after the vows are said. Marriage is not magic. It cures nothing.
Also consider that a chronic depressed mood could mean you or your bff are clinically depressed and need professional help.
4. Lost Baggage . . . Found!
You can tuck your childhood hurts and fears into the far corner of the back of your mind, but they will find a way out. We all take our unresolved issues into the marriage - but the baggage can seem gone for good before the wedding. Romantic bliss keeps problems at bay.
A marriage is a process and part of the process is coming to terms with the gremlins inside you. Each partner has to do it for themselves (although its tempting to think you can fix someone else). For example, the way your family dealt with anger may show itself before marriage. Or, it could be on its best behavior until after you're hitched.
If your family swept anger and unpleasantness under the carpet you will automatically contribute that to the marriage. If your spouse grew up in a home where everything was grounds for arguments that never saw resolution, it will show up as a surprise package post honeymoon, if it didn't before.
If you and your fiance can't resolve issues before marriage - see a couples counselor. If you can't resolve things after the wedding - see a couples counselor. Find out how you push the other's buttons without realizing it - and stop pushing the buttons you know about.
5. Money Matters
I think money issues are the #1 cause of marriage problems (educated guess). Problems with sex take a back seat to the dollar.
You can't always know how your partner will be with money after marriage but its one of the most important things to discuss beforehand. Who will pay the bills, do the taxes, how many credit cards between you are not the big issue. Beliefs and attitude about money are the big issue. If you're marrying a penny-pincher or impulsive spender, can you live with that? Even if the person agrees to change it will take time and may not happen.
Or, if you consider the money you both make to be "our" money, but your favorite person in the world feels ownership over the money he/she makes - that's a problem. Unresolved money issues are a giant red flag waving above your wedding. Don't ignore it.
6. Excitement of the Hunt: Over!
Some people rejoice that the hunt for someone special is over, others love the hunt so much marriage can be a let down of sorts. Even during the engagement, the contract is still tentative, so there is still some tracking to do for hunters, but hunters often don't get the same kick out of home and hearth as a non-tracker.
If you're not a hunter but are marrying one, you may want to find ways to keep the hunt alive so the hunter doesn't go to distant woods. If you like the hunt and your love doesn't, its important to realize that aspect of the relationship will be less exciting after the wedding bells.
A non-hunter that doesn't care to keep the game going with the hunter-partner should rethink the commitment. A hunter that can't stop hunting will . . . keep hunting.
7. If You Can't Say It Now . . .
If you are uncomfortable sharing certain things with your partner, or if conversation is difficult between you, marriage will not fix it.
If you cannot give your thoughts, feelings and dreams to someone comfortably pre-wedding talking will remain uncomfortable after the wedding. If conversation is a struggle before vows, it will be after. You may have the greatest sex in the history of sex, but that doesn't guarantee you will verbally communicate well.
Some people just don't click communication wise. Is that something you can live with?
If you are quiet so your partner does not criticize or shame you, why would you choose to live with that?
We can love people we don't communicate very well with. If both parties are willing to work on that, things could improve. If only one of you is willing to make changes and learn new habits, it may or may not help you converse with your spouse.
8. Under Cover
I bet you thought this was about sex. Not. So much has been written about it I decided not to go there. But, what are you hiding from your special one? Do you have secrets and should you spill them? Should you be totally honest with your thoughts and feelings?
Beats me. But, if you have a secret that you think might scare the other person away, consider sharing it with them. It will always haunt your marriage if you don't.
Now, what about being honest about your wife's special casserole or new hair cut. What of the pure truth about your husband going bald or the coin collection he spends hours at. (A bit of stereotyping there.) This is tricky territory but I will say this. There are ways of saying the truth that don't hurt, or hurt less, than just blurting something out and these ways can be learned (not the scope of this lens).
Talk about this before the big day. Tell the other how honest you would like communications to be. Look at how truthfulness has played a part in your relationship so far. And remember, you are going to hurt your babe's feelings sometimes - and they yours. Very hard to avoid.
Warts and All
9. Warts and All
Should you have your significant other on a pedestal enjoy it. Sometime after the wedding it will crash. There are days in a marriage when you wonder what you could have possibly been thinking to marry this person.
Your partner, and you, come through the wedding ceremony "warts and all." There's no getting around it. Even the most buff body can look bad through they're-just-a-person glasses. Unless you are wealthy, living is often inconvenient and mundane. (Maybe its that way if you are wealthy too; when I get there I'll let you know.) And those we love can disappoint us, let us down, do something unbelievably stupid, and sear our feelings.
Love does weird things to our eyeballs. Everybody loves being loved and that can scramble our perceptions. Every prince is frog, and every frog a prince. Each princess fits the glass slipper, until she doesn't.
10. What Did You Expect?
Sometimes we gravitate toward a person who has strengths where we have weaknesses, or have certain qualities we want but lack. I can't find anything wrong with two people complimenting one another. On the other hand, your dear one cannot magically pass that prized quality on to you. It's something only you can learn or strengthen.
Eventually, some partners expect the other person to demonstrate strengths they don't have. But what you marry is what you get. If you start expecting your partner to get with the program and do what you (or your parents) do naturally, there will be problems. Think about this: if you were suddenly gone from your partners life, would they be able to at least muddle on? If the answer is no they really should learn some new skills. If the answer is yes, and it often is, it puts your ideas about strength in perspective.
Enjoy the differences. Most couples learn a great deal from one another, but not if its forced. No one can be everything. Ask yourself if you can live with your partners weaknesses, and appreciate their strengths without feeling threatened by them.
Marriage is a journey, a process,
not a crib or fallout shelter