Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Should you be marrying?

This is one of the readings given during Pre-Cana classes.


If this question disturbs you, we are sorry. But as a marriage counselor with 22 years of experience says, I am often asked? What is the most common cause of marital breakups?? In all honesty I have to answer?

Two people who should never have married in the first place, or, at least, should never have married each other?

Most of you will build satisfactory marriages. Many of you will build very happy marriages. For the few of you who might not do either, the following warning signs might well indicate whether you should have second thoughts. We call them the fourteen ifs.

1. You may be very deeply in love, but if you have known each other for less than 3 months, professionals say it is doubtful that you have been acquainted long enough to really know the person you plan to marry. Better give yourselves and the relationship more time.

2. If your fianc� has been really drunk or used drugs 3 times in the past 3 weeks or about 10 times in the past 3-4 months, he or she may have a problem that requires professional help. No marriage should begin if one partner is clearly unstable, troubled, and in need of professional help.

3. If your fianc� makes statements like, "I owe a great deal to mother. It's my duty to make her happy", and if such statements are coupled with behavior that makes it apparent that he or she will do almost anything to ensure parental approval. You should consider how close a relationship with in-laws a healthy marriage can sustain.

4. If you fianc� says things like, "I can't live without you; my life has no meaning apart from you; if I ever lost you I would kill myself", and if such statements are joined to very obvious dependent behavior, this partner may bring nothing to the relationship beyond deep draining needs. Being needed so desperately may flatter the ego for a while, but if that's all there is, the relationship may become dull and draining. Counseling is indicated before considering marriage.

5. If you have developed a pattern of quarreling with, disappointing, seriously irritating, or hurting each other during the majority of times that you have been together in the last 3 months, perhaps you are trying subconsciously to tell each other something. Think about it. Marriage will not erase this type of discontent.

6. If many of the significant, mature people in your life - parents, relatives, teachers and especially good friends who love you - indicate that you may be making a mistake, you should take pause. People rarely comment on another's decision in this day and age. If they muster the courage (in words or otherwise) to tell you that they are troubled, weigh their opinions or non-verbal reactions.

7. If some very serious problem has occurred in the past few weeks, and if it is definitely troubling you, and if you have not had an opportunity to work it through, then either confront the problem or think about postponing the wedding.

8. If your financial situation is uncertain and there appears to be no means of correcting it in the near future, don't pass it off because "we're in love". Statistics show that financial problems are a significant factor in the dissolution of at least 40% of all marriages. Although money does not buy happiness, lack of money can cause a great deal of stress and unhappiness.

9. If all your friends are marrying and you feel pressured to do the same, don't! You can sustain any amount of societal or peer pressure to avoid an unhappy life.

10. If you feel that having become sexually involved commits you to marrying each other despite serious problems in your relationship, don't! A good marriage is predicated on maturity and responsibility, not on sexual involvement which may not be founded on love.

11. If both of you are 18 years of age or under, your potential for divorce is 3.5 times greater than that of people who are 21 years of age and over.

12. If you are marrying because you just have to get out of the house, you will ultimately hurt only yourself if marriage is merely a means of asserting your freedom or "getting back" at your parents for past hurts. Moving out of the house might be very appropriate, but should marriage be the excuse or the way?

13. If you are a pregnant couple (it does take two), then slow down, think, talk, ponder, and pray. Neither pregnancy itself nor the fear of any social stigma that pregnancy might cause are good reasons to marry. Ask yourselves whether you would really marry one another if there was no pregnancy.

14. If your backgrounds or cultures or religious beliefs differ so greatly that strong differences of opinion about important matters have already occurred, the difficulties will more than likely increase when you marry. Further, if one partner consistently compromises and the other never does, resentment might eventually build up on both sides. You should be able to meet one another at least half way.

NOTE: No one can predict that your marriage will fail or succeed, and none of these warning signs spells absolute disaster. The risk that you take is part of the adventure of marriage. But, if you decide to take that risk, you must first consider the odds. Are they in your favor? If not, you might be taking a far greater risk than you should.

Please do not panic, bury your head in the sand, or hit the road. But, do think it over and talk it over. Make certain that you are acting responsibly in that your decision to marry is made with good judgment. You might want to ask advice from a qualified, unbiased person, such as a priest, minister, or married person.

Although marriage is a wonderful state, it is also a life-long task that should be given careful consideration before a lasting decision is made or binding action taken. You owe it to one another to be honest about your feelings and your situation. Only good can come of it.

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