In our “have it now society” people often think that immediately living together and then simply getting married is good enough to make it long term. Some even think why marry? What is often misunderstood is that baggage from ones past that doesn’t get dealt with will cause problems on down the line. When I talk with a couple thinking about marriage or even living together, I always encourage that they seek out a competent therapist to help deal with any potential issues. There are several reasons that I suggest this.
What you learned in your family isn’t good enough
I know, I know, you had the most amazing supportive family. Not only did you always have peaceful family vacations, you always had dinner when you could around the dinner table. Despite all the perfection that surrounded you growing up, your amazing family didn’t fully prepare you for the unique challenges that will happen when you marry. You may end up marrying a person who didn’t have a perfect childhood. (You’re not prepared for that) You may end up marrying a person with unknown mental health issues (you’re not prepared for that) you may end up with another person who had a “perfect” upbringing (you’re definitely not prepared for that). Suffice it to say that pre-marital counseling is a useful way to Get Prepared for the happiness that lies ahead.
Know your challenges
We all bring challenges to relationships. Knowing what they are is half the battle. The sooner you know what challenges you bring to the table in a relationship, the quicker you can go on to getting the business of a good marriage accomplished.
What’s the mission of your marriage?
Do you know what your marriage is going to be about? Will it be about serving others, making lots of money, raising well-behaved children? If you and your partner have a common and agreed upon goal prior to marriage, then all things can be weighed against this mission. This mission will also change over time. It’s a great idea to sit down every few years and go over you mission and change it as necessary.
Do it before then you’ll do it after
Guys are notorious for not wanting to do therapy; unless they are given an ultimatum (Ultimatums are bad). Guys are MUCH more willing to do therapy if it means they will get to marry the woman of their dreams. If they see that therapy isn’t so bad, they are going to be more willing to do it after marriage when a challenge comes up.
Agree now to commit
This may seem commonsensical, but many couples don’t make the commitment to work on things when they get tough. Instead they blame, seek other relationships, avoid conversations etc… If your view from the start is that you will commit to one another EVEN WHEN things get bad then it’s more likely that divorce won’t happen.
Plan all the other stuff
I call this family logistics. If you do the other 5 things it will be much easier to plan out how many kids you want, where you will spend the holidays, when will you buy a house and so on and so on.
It goes without saying that simply going into a marriage without planning is not usually a good idea. If you plan to have a great relationship and marriage then that’s what you’re most likely to get!