My oldest boy asked me something the other day about all the news regarding the high divorce rate. I told him there aren't too many divorces, there's too many marriages. Most people get married without really knowing who they are marrying or just how big of a commitment they are making. Heck, most people get married before they even know themselves very well. When the reality of it all hits them, they are either stuck in a bad marriage for life, or they get a divorce. Education is the solution.
Know yourself well before committing yourself to a life of marriage to another person:
- Are you really ready?
- Are you done playing the field?
- Do you still have wild oats to sow?
- Is your career or higher education going to get in the way of your ability to really build a life with someone else?
- What are your beliefs about marriage?
- Are you a high maintenance or low maintenance personality?
- Are you ready for kids?
- Do you even want kids?
- How exactly do you plan on raising them?
- Are you going to be a smothering parent or one who pushes the child into independence?
- Tough love or doting?
- What kind of financial lifestyle do you want?
- Can you achieve it before you have kids or should you wait and have kids later when you've set things up just so?
- How much intimacy do you want, need, prefer?
- How accommodating are you to other people's needs?
- Are you a team player or a bit self indulged??
There are no right or wrong answers, you just need to have your eyes wide open for the sake of your future spouse. You need to be able to tell them straight up what it is you're offering. What exactly does 'let's get married' look like to you?
Knowing Your Partner
Know your partner before proposing or accepting their proposal:
- Are they really ready?
- Do you trust them not to cheat?
- What are their career aspirations?
- What are their spiritual beliefs and how important are they to them?
- What religion does your partner want to raise your children in?
- Are they high maintenance or low?
- Do you have what it takes to please them?
- Are they the type that will naturally please you without having to force yourselves to take care of each other?
- Do they want kids?
- If so, when?
- What kind of financial lifestyle do they want to raise a family in?
- Are they the type to want to just dive in and trust that everything will turn out okay or do they have a plan that they're going to want you to agree to and follow with them?
- What is their parenting style and beliefs?
- How much intimacy does your partner like?
- How well do they compromise with others?
Again, there are no right or wrong answers, but you need to know these things about the other person before agreeing to marry them.
I heard a wonderful New Age definition of marriage recently. They said marriage is the act of agreeing to live out someone else's karma with them. So ask yourself, what's my partner's karma look like? What goes around comes around. What are they putting out into the world? And what kind of energy are you putting out into the world? Would it be fair to ask someone to join you in your karma? Be honest.
Young people really need to be educated as to what marriage is. So many girls accept the first proposal that comes along assuming it's the best they'll ever get. I think the fear that we'll be alone makes us afraid to say no to someone who isn't necessarily the right partner for us. I suspect the boys proposing are doing the same thing. Our fear of being alone and our low self-esteems make us desperate to couple up without really checking out who we're going to be with and what it is we have to offer them. Add to that the dizzyingly wonderful high that first comes along with falling in love and it's almost more than folks can handle. It's only natural that we would want to stay on that high forever. When we're young, we think that the high will last forever if we get married. We're committing to the emotions, not to the cold hard facts of who we are, who they are, and what marriage together would really end up looking like. It's very difficult to do, and much easier said than done, but young kids need to take a step back and seriously look at these questions before moving forward with marriage commitments.
In Love with Being in Love
The adults I know who have gone through repeat marriages and divorces are all still making that same mistake. They're marrying the rush of emotions before doing their homework and finding out who they're actually in love with. We are in love with being in love. Beautiful stuff, but often a sure formula for divorce once reality hits. If we can learn how to take a step back and bring our heads in where our hearts have taken over, I think we could save ourselves a lot of heartache down the line. Yeah, we probably wouldn't get married as early in life, because it will take a while to find the right one. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The older and wiser we are, the better the chances that we're going to be able to openly and honestly present ourselves to potential mates.
As a society, if we would just wait for the right one to come along, we'd see a huge drop in the divorce rate. There will always be weird unexpected things that happen, but overall marriage would actually have a fighting chance at being a happily ever after thing again. Choose wisely and hold it sacred when you do find that special someone. Know just how rare and special they are. And give thanks daily once you find them.