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The Brief Marriage
Your family loves him and you love his family.
You share a home, dogs and a close circle of friends.
It's so hard to meet decent people to date
you don't want to be single forever
How can you afford to live on your own?
You hate dating--just hate it
All your friends are getting hitched
Are these some of the things you tell yourself in order to feel reassured that he is the one and marriage is the right choice, now? If so, you are clearly shutting out the sound of warning bells and ignoring the red flags that are trying to tell you to stop, think and proceed forward with great caution. Think for a moment about Kim and Kris's 72 days and Sinead O'Connor's 16 days. I know, she changed her mind again, but for how long?
The brief marriage is making the headlines more lately because not only is it so common, it has also become socially acceptable. We often hear people say that it is good to find out early and get out quickly--never mind all the time, energy, money and other resources that went into their relationship and the "big day" it led to.
Somehow, something seems very backwards here. After all, isn't courtship (yes, courtship) the time to evaluate your rightness or wrongness for each other and to asses how well you would travel the long road of life together? However, a careful assessment means taking your time and getting to know one another before making that commitment.
Apparently, this is not happening. Folks are rushing into sexual intimacy, sleepovers (more on that in a later article), co-habitation, parenthood, and even marriage. Yes, the marriage rate is down sharply in the US. The number of married households are actually less than 50%, which is significant. Yet, people are doing many of the committed things that married couples do--and a number of them decide to marry at some point because they have already tied so many knots together.
There are also those folks who have marriage as their goal. Their friends are getting married, they have reached a certain marriage age, and they fear that if they wait they will end up alone, and/or they want the security and status that marriage can offer. If there weren't perks, why would same sex couples be fighting so hard for the right to say "I do?"
So, how do you avoid the trap of the brief marriage? For starters, approach dating in a different way. Here are some tips on how to create a dating life that maximizes your chances of a strong, long term and mutually satisfy union/marriage.
* Approach dating like you would a new job. Ask questions about the other person and get to know their likes, dislikes, goals, passions and most deeply held values. If you click on most of these, you have the start of something with real potential.
* Pay attention to warning signs and red flags. Yes, it could a one time issue/problem- but you need to be open to seeing patterns if they exist.
* Take your time before becoming intimate. What's the hurry? If you click, you will have a long time to enjoy each other sexually.
* Don't move in together until you are seriously planning engagement or taking the next step. Living together is a trap of convenience that leads many couples to marry because it's too hard to separate their lives. Often, these couple end up divorced.
* Don't try to fit someone into the role because they are attractive, have a good job, share some similar interests, have good parent potential and/or have wealth or high social status that you desire. Many people have married for the wrong reason and ended up in divorce court.
* If you find yourself rationalizing and offering reasons why you should be with this person, either to yourself or others- something isn't right. You are trying to convince yourself when your heart is telling you to beware. Step back and take a look at the feelings behind your need to do this.
* If you are already entangled in a relationship with red flags flying and feel the desire to get out- make a plan. Put together a list of your resources, ask friends and family for assistance and lay out the steps to moving on to a new life as a single person.
If you think being single is hard--try finding yourself sitting in an office like mine and telling your therapist you made a big mistake, felt you had to go through with the plan, spent 20,000+ on the wedding, and know you need to end it. Now, that's a bad day.
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This is the first "Compatibility Issues" article.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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