Things to Consider Before Getting Married

Sunday, 19 July 2009 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

Having read this blog post on Things to Consider Before Getting Married, I felt like that post really didn't cover enough. I know of no friends in bad marriages because of how many football games someone wants to watch. I haven't had any relationships end over that.

Here is my take on this.

Consider what is very unlikely to change at all, ever.

Religion. Politics. How many kids someone does or doesn't want. How much someone smokes, drinks, or does drugs. How much someone goes to a strip club or enjoys porn. :)

If your partner doesn't agree with your views, and that sometimes bugs you, remember that you're signing up for a lifetime of disagreement on those issues. He or she may not eventually come around to seeing your way on this, so don't assume it'll change.

Don't assume he or she will change at all, ever.

I've been in long-term relationships with a few people who had some self-awareness of some bad or even destructive aspects of their personalities that they wanted to change. Great! Step one is being aware, and step two is wanting to change. And so far in my life, I've watched these people change none of these things. I think it was because they were large, fundamental changes to how they saw things, how they gut-reacted to things, and things like that… so they weren't easy changes to make.

I have gone into long-term relationships assuming that he will "stop doing that" because he says he will get help… or because my love can support him through his tough times… or because love conquers all… or something like that. And so far, I've been painfully disappointed, and it's a double disappointment. It hurts that the person is still doing things evidently neither of you want him or her doing, and then it's hard to realise that he or she broke a promise to change it.

Make sure that if you are moving in or getting married, you really love that person AS IS. If he or she NEVER changed and always did that or always avoided that or always was just as he or she is now, would he or she still be your Perfect Partner? If you don't immediately jump out with YES, then it's no.

While my last relationship didn't last, I knew I was going into it loving that person the way he was, for better or worse, and sometimes he was worse. :) I knew he might not change, but I was ready to support him in any change he wanted to make. To me, that's unconditional love, and that is what both people should feel for a marriage to be the right choice, and then work out.

Listen to your gut.

When you hear yourself unsure of these things, or you hear yourself thinking about how you wish she didn't do that or how you wish he didn't say that… put those on a pile. They're not isolated. People have patterns. People rarely do things once. Crappy people who learn that you'll take what they just said or did will surely do it again… they just learned you'll take it.

I have had friends who were married to crappy people, and they kept telling themselves that their spouse won't be like that to the kids… that he won't say those mean things to a little baby, and then he'll learn to not say those things to me. Well, it normally doesn't work that way. If he's saying hurtful things, he's got issues, and the kid will be the next target.

Nobody escapes someone with issues, and you shouldn't assume that someone who has patterns of being a certain way will magically stop being that way. If that person were capable of that kind of awareness, I'd think that he or she would see what he or she is doing to YOU, and would STOP.

Watch your role.

In many of my long-term relationships, I seemed to end up as the everything. I was the main or sole breadwinner. I was the person who planned everything, took care of everything. Fought every wrong bill. Dealt with every contractor coming to the house. I like to be supportive to people, but seem to end up as their therapist or the objective of their obsessions, power struggles, or addictions.

Some people think they want that take-charge person, or that they want to be that take-charge person. Well, just remember that you then have a relationship that is not equal. OK, not everybody's pay rates will be equal, but in theory, you want something equal. You are not in this relationship to take care of someone else, or to be taken care of. You're an adult. :)

Live together first for 3 years.

Yeah, really. Are you in some sort of rush? You shouldn't be. If this is the right person, you'll have plenty of time together. Don't be in a rush to be married or have kids. That doesn't work out for most of us, and most of the people I know who are still in their marriage seem awfully unhappy… but stay for the kids. By the way, your marriage is a model for your kids. Stay in a loveless or openly negative marriage, and guess what you teach the kids. It's no accident that I keep dating the same people who treat me as badly as my mother treated my father… it's what I learned, and I'm not out of that habit yet. So staying in it for the kids may not be giving the kids what you think it gives them.

I have noticed that the relationships I had with people were MUCH better before we moved in together. Once you are with that person that much, you get to see it all. It all comes out. That great behaviour they save for those dates or nights together is there… and then the other stuff comes out. It's amazing how much gets revealed about someone once you are living with them. People are different when they don't have the same personal space and choices on how they spend their time.

In the last 3 long-term relationships I've been in, I saw enough bad stuff from these guys in the first year we lived together to have known that this was wrong. But part of my bad pattern is to stay in these bad relationships and think that I can help, support, and love unhappy people into better places in their lives. I am wrong. But I sure could have avoided a lot of divorce issues and bad dealings with unstable guys if I had "put on a pile" what I saw once we moved in together. I should have seen that complete picture of who that person really was, not just loved their potential to be happier or better, not just loved the good times, and LEFT.

Why 3 years? Because I've still seen some people on their best behaviour in that first year or so. It's that honeymoon period. You've picked a place, some furniture… there's probably still some of that fun, fresh dating energy there. Let that burn off, and see what you have underneath it all. I found that not only were these guys awful and impossible, but we couldn't even stay friends.

Even if you've been dating 5 years but haven't lived together yet, live together for at least 1-2 years. It really is different. It just is!


Yeah. I said it, and I mean it. Get a pre-nup. I don't care if you have NOTHING. Get one. If you both agree on property and things, then you'll both sign a fair pre-nup. If you don't agree on property and things, oh isn't that best to know before you get married?

It's like any other insurance. You hope you are not in a car wreck. You hope you are not hospitalised. But you have insurance in case these things happen. You don't want them to happen, and you assume they'll never happen to you. But they're good to have. So is a pre-nup.

Marriage is not supposed to be hard, so stop telling yourself that.

People marry the wrong people, and then guess what. Marriage is hard. It takes work and effort. And that's what they tell you when you hang out. Marriage is just so hard, and it takes work.

It doesn't have to be like that, and it shouldn't. Think about your relationship with you
r best friend. Does that person have to try to say and do the right thing for you? Do you tell him or her what to say, what not to say, and how to act to make you happy? Probably not. You probably go well together. That's the sort of relationship you should have when you want to be married. That great friendship where you don't each have a list of what you hope the other person will change.

Your relationship with your best friend is probably very easy. It's natural. You don't have to sit down and ask where it's going, or why she wasn't more supportive. This is your best friend. This relationship is not hard, and nobody tells themselves or each other that best friends are hard and take effort.

So why are we telling ourselves that marriage is hard and takes effort when you're supposed to marry "your best friend," your perfect match, your soul mate, the person who loves you and understands you the most? Why do we tell ourselves this stuff when it just gives people reasons to stay in bad relationships? Well, this relationship is a mess, but hey, marriage is hard and takes hard work, so I guess I haven't put in enough hard work because this is a mess.

So be very careful. There is no good reason to rush into getting married or having kids. There is so much to consider to make sure it's right, and you don't end up a statistic. Divorce is not the only statistic. I also think of the number of people staying in unhappy marriages "for the kids." Or the people staying in verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive situations. These are all easy to do. None of us set out to do this, but we fall into patterns or we believe liars.

Yes, I am a bit skeptical and not so hot on the whole marriage thing. That's more from watching unhappy friends stay in bad stuff than from my own bad dating experiences. If I were the only one having bad long-term relationship experiences, you can say it's just me. :) I'm in the majority. I think people need to do a better job picking their partners. If this blog post can save just ONE person from some of the mistakes I made (more than once), it's worth it.

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Categories: Just An Observation

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