It seems that some people have an easier time committing to a marriage than they do to a job. Changing jobs may be challenging but it can also be fun under the right circumstances. Ending a marriage is always challenging and never involves fun.
When couples have doubts before saying their vows they should fully explore those worries. Without exception, every couple I have seen in my practice over the last 2 decades who are on the brink of divorce report that they had serious doubts prior to getting married. Those very doubts are typically part of the reason that the relationship is currently suffering.
There are many factors that can weigh on people as they are deciding whether or not to marry. Sometimes there is an age consideration and the fear that time may be running out. There can be familial or societal pressures at play that serve to distract from the importance of the decision. Fears and doubts during the engagement period can be shoved under the rug as a couple gets swept away with the excitement of planning and the enthusiasm of those around them.
This doesn’t mean that any doubt should be an indicator that the marriage should not happen, but it does mean that any and all concerns should be discussed prior to making that commitment. There is often magical thinking involved when people are in love and want to take the next step. They may believe that the marriage itself will quell any concerns and somehow make the issues less important or easier to solve. This is never the case.
The reality is that the stakes get higher and the responsibilities increase once all of the celebratory champagne glasses are put away and the bags are unpacked from the honeymoon. Somehow returning to real life has a way of magnifying earlier concerns particularly because couples become acutely aware that they have signed onto these pre-existing problems indefinitely.
If you are considering marriage and have serious concerns, talk to your partner about them. Now is the time to set in place the communication dynamics that will live on way beyond your nuptial. If you struggle with face-to-face emotional discussion then put your concerns down in writing and ask your partner to read them while you are present. Your mate’s receptiveness to the process will be a good indicator of how conflicts will be resolved in the future. Be open to hearing your partners concerns as well.
By all means seek out premarital counseling if you feel that the two of you are unable to resolve current issues. In a safe environment, with a clinician who specializes in relationship issues, you can learn valuable tools that you can use throughout your marriage. Cynics who say that, “If you need to see a therapist before you get married then you shouldn’t be getting married,” are truly missing the point. It is a way to brush up on skills needed to sustain a happy relationship that are frankly, and unfortunately, not intuitive for most people. I have seen brilliant, successful individuals who are devoid of basic relationship skills. Just meeting the right person does not instantly endow someone with these abilities. Couples can acquire the skills it takes to be a part of a healthy long-term relationship, either through work with a therapist or by committing to the process as a team.
It really is possible to live happily ever after, just not all the time. All relationships have highs and lows. Learning how to work through conflicts, respect each other’s differences and find common and desirable ground can take time, practice, and patience.
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