It’s common knowledge that it’s easier to get married than divorced. Crazy, huh? The process of undoing a marriage, especially with children, is far more painful than careful forethought before marriage. Marriage is not a static relationship – it changes as each partner grows and develops. But, having a foundation of resiliency, the ability to resolve conflicts, and unwavering respect for each other will serve to support the health and success of your relationship.
An ounce of prevention:
1. Reflect upon your own family of origin. Who were you closest to? Who gave you the most trouble? And what role does your original family have in your life today? Discuss with your partner how different or similar your families are. If they are incredibly dissimilar (i.e. one has a close, warm, big family of origin and your partner is an only child with a single parent), you may discover that your temperament and styles need to be explored.
2. Talk to each other about your biggest fears surrounding marriage. Be honest. No one should get married without having an appreciation for the enormity of the commitment. Do you have a role model for a successful marriage? Is your role model different than that of your partner’s? And, of course, you cannot ignore the roles that kids, religion, values, and joint interests will play in your future.
3. Ask yourself honestly – are you committed to working through any future dilemmas and/or crises? Most couples wait until their relationship is fractured and frayed before they learn how to communicate more effectively. Having respect for each other and the need compromise and think of the other person’s needs before your own will build a structure for resiliency.
4. Will you stay proactive? Having an intention to make your marriage work means that you are aware that outside pressures can interfere with a working relationship. Not waiting to let that stress intrude and overtake your partnership is essential. Seeking professional help or talking with a neutral party before situations arise can often be incredibly helpful and insightful.
Your compatibility, expectations, intimacy, and long-term goals will put your marriage on the road to longevity and success. “Love” alone does not make long-term marriage work.