Monday, July 28, 2008

Thoughts on Marriage

**Warning** This will be a long post so bear with me.

So Marty and I had a lengthy conversation this weekend. We chatted online and got into a few "deep" subjects and something about the conversation grabbed on to me today. He told me first about the advice he gave his sister in regards to dating divorced men. He said, "You might have to wait awhile for them to let you in, cause if they are a good man and they were hurt once in a long term relationship they might be scared to get back into another because it scares the shit out of them to think that it could happen to them again. Men try to hide their emotions but a lot of them are worse then women." I thought that bit of information was good to know. As we continued to talk about marriage he indicated that the thought of it scares him to some degree. He said, "I'm not afraid of marriage, just afraid to get into another one that is going to fail, and I know there is no way to know what will happen in 10, 20,30 or 50 years in the future and the scares the hell out of me. I want to know the future."
I responded with "You can't (know the future)... but if you have faith in God and you have a marriage blessed by God... you've met half the battle... marriage takes a lot of work... and too many people give up too easily... but if you go into your next marriage the right way then you stand a good chance of it working."
So now, how do you go about it the right way? Are there things you can know before you take the leap to determine whether or not it's going to fail? There are a million books out there that you can read about how to find the right mate, how to stay married, how to do this or that.... but I think ultimately it boils down to just plain common sense and really being discerning before you jump into marriage. There's a lot of statistics out there as to the causes of divorce, but I think ultimately it is because too many people 1. Marry too soon 2. Marry the wrong person or 3. Marry for the wrong reason. So how do you know if you're ready, if it's the right person and if you're doing it for the right reasons? As I thought about this, I made a list of questions that I think you should ask yourself (about yourself and your partner) first. If you answer them honestly, I think they can give you an indication as to whether or you're ready to commit to marriage and that person. Although it is a somewhat exhaustive list, it is certainly not complete. Not every answer has a definite right or wrong way to answer but you should consider the significance of the issues before you make any major decisions.

Do you love them for who they are and not for what they can do for you?
Do they love you for who you are and not what you do for them? (Not just a means to an end)

Can you see yourself growing old with this person?
Can you see yourself having fun with them for many years?
Do like being around this person the majority of the time?
Do you like their company?

Do you get along with their family?
Do they get along with yours?
Do the families approve of your choice?
Is their family supportive of you?
Are you willing to spend time with their family?
Are they willing to spend time with your family?

Can you talk openly with this person? Do you hold anything back? If so, why?
Are you both willing to openly communicate with each other?
Can you express your love easily towards them?
Do you feel loved by them?

Do you have things in common with the person?
Do you have your own interests you can pursue?
Are they open to letting you pursue your interests?
Are you open to letting them pursue their interests?
Do you have interests that you can pursue together?
Can you travel together?

Are you willing to make time for this person?
Are they willing to make time for you?
Will you make this person a priority?
Are you a priority for them?
Do your priorities in life mesh?

Do they make you smile when you think about them?

Are you morals and values similar?
Do you have several shared values?
Do you both generally want the same things in the future? (Living space, location, family, religion, money, etc.)

Do you respect this person?
Do they respect you?

Is there anything about them that bothers you? If so, is it significant enough that it cannot be overlooked?
Do you have any resentment toward the person?
Do they have any resentment toward you?
Can you forgive them for their weaknesses?
Do you love them in spite of any faults they may have?

Do you trust them?
Do they trust you?
Can you be honest with them?
Are they honest with you?

Do you fight? Often?
If you fight, what do you fight about? Are they major issues that could be detrimental to a marriage?
Are you able to resolve conflicts when they occur?
Do you disagree on several issues?
Are you and the other person willing and able to resolve conflicts when they arise?

Are you willing to sacrifice for the other person?
Are they willing to sacrifice for you?
Do you want to make them happy?
Do they make you happy?

Would you fight to keep this person in your life?
Would you still love the person if they changed physically?

Do you or your partner have any significant problems that would cause problems in the marriage? (addictions, emotional, psychological problems, etc.)
Do you or your partner have any indications of physical, sexual or emotional abuse?

Can you agree on finances and how money should be spent in your marriage?
Are you willing to provide for the other person? (financially, emotionally, etc.)
Are they willing to provide for you?
Can you accept and work around the other person’s choice of career?
Can they accept and work around your choice of career?

Do you have the same desire for having a family?
If you already have children, do they like this person?
If they have children, do their children like you?

Are both willing to put God at the center of the marriage?

Is your intent to marriage truly for better or worse, richer for poorer, forsaking all others, until death parts you?

Why do you want to marry them? What do you expect to gain by marrying them?

Of course, there's no sure fire guarantee that even if you ask all these questions and have what you think are all the right answers that you will never get divorced. Circumstances change, people change and sometimes there's just no other option. Sometimes it's that Jekyll and Hyde thing where you think you know someone and they turn out to be very different than you thought. I don't necessarily condone divorce and really think it should be avoided if possible, but there are situations where it is ultimately necessary. But I still think there would be less divorce if people went into marriage the right way with the right person and with the right attitude in the first place.

So that's my list. What are you thoughts? Are there questions that you would add? Are there some that you felt shouldn't be asked? If you've been married and divorced, what were the issues in your marriage (if you're willing to share)? If you're married, are you happily married? If so, what advice would you give to other couples?


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Leann said...

How about: Do you love them for who they are or who you want them to be, or who you see they have the potential to be?

Anonymous said...

Have to read that and think.

Terri said...

these are great questions not only for before marriage, but I found myself answering them (positively) and I've been married for nearly 16 years. I think if many were have answered negatively, we'd have some major problems!! :o)

Brobdingnagian said...

A Jewish blogger once wrote that she read a book by a rabbi, and his wife, that said that they only asked one question of women, and another of men, for them to think about before they make the decision on whether to marry:

1. For a man, the question was, "Will you be happy trying to make this woman happy for the rest of your life.".

2. For a woman, the question was, "Do you respect this man?".

I thought that was really interesting. I think I'm glad that us Catholics have a more involved framework, but as minimalistic approaches go, this one has a lot to recommend it.


Lynette said...

I have been married for 42 years this month, and your questions are all valid. If people discussed them truthfully with each other, it would be a great tool. What I like best about my husband is that I would rather spend time with him than anyone else I know.

Anonymous said...

Think I have a problem.