Marriage: Looking Before you Leap

If the following statement disturbs you, we are sorry. But marriage counselors are often asked, “What is the most common cause of marital breakups?” In all honesty some of them answer…

“These two people should never have married in the first place- or, at least, they should never have married each other.”

The following warning signs might well indicate whether you should have second thoughts. We will call them the fourteen “ifs.”

1. You may be very deeply in love, but IF you have known each other for less than three months, professionals say it is doubtful that you have been acquainted long enough to really know the person you plan to marry. Better give yourselves and the relationship more time.

2. IF your partner has been really drunk or used drugs heavily after three times in the past three weeks or about ten times in the past three or four months, he or she may have a problem that requires professional help. No marriage should begin if one partner is clearly unstable, troubled, and in need of professional help.

3. IF you partner makes statements like “I owe a great deal to mother. It’s my duty to maker her happy,” and IF such statements are coupled with behavior that makes apparent that he or she will do almost anything to ensure parental approval, you should consider how close a relationship with in-laws a healthy marriage can sustain.

4. IF your partner says things like: “I can’t live without you; my life has no meaning apart from you; IF I ever lost you I would kill myself,” and IF such statements are joined to very obvious dependent behavior, he or she may bring nothing to the relationship beyond deep draining needs. Being needed so desperately may flatter the ego for awhile, but IF that’s all there is, the relationship may become dull and draining.

5. IF you have developed a pattern of quarreling with, disappointing, seriously irritating, or hurting each other during the majority of times that you have been together in the last three months, perhaps you are trying subconsciously to tell each other something. Think about it. Marriage will not erase this type of discontent.

6. IF many of the significant, mature people in your life – parents, relatives, teachers, and especially good friends who love you, – indicate that you may be making a mistake, you should take pause. IF people muster up the courage to comments (in words or otherwise) on another’s decision, weigh their opinions and nonverbal reactions carefully.

7. IF some very serious problem has occurred in the past few weeks, and if it is definitely troubling you, and if you have not had an opportunity to work it through, then either confront the problem or think about postponing the wedding.

8. IF your financial situation is uncertain, and there appears to be no means of correcting it in the near future, don’t pass it off because “we’re in love.” Statistics show that financial problems are a significant factor in the dissolution of at least 40 percent of all marriages. Although money does not buy happiness, lack of money can cause a great deal of stress and unhappiness.

9. IF all of your friends are marrying and you feel pressured to do the same, don’t! You can sustain any amount of societal or peer pressure to avoid an unhappy life.

10. IF you feel that having become sexually involved commits you to marrying each other despite serious problems in your relationship, don’t. A good marriage is predicated on maturity and responsibility, not on sexual involvement that may not be founded on love.

11. IF both of you are eighteen years of age or under, your potential for divorce is three and a half times greater than that of people who are over twenty one years of age and over.

12. IF you are marrying because you just have to get out of the house, you will ultimately hurt only yourself IF marriage is merely a means of asserting your freedom or “getting back” at your parents for past hurts.  Moving out of the house might be very appropriate, but should marriage be the excuse or the way?

13. IF you are a pregnant couple (it does take two!), then slow down, think, talk, ponder, and pray. Neither pregnancy itself nor the fear of any social stigma that pregnancy might cause are good reasons to marry.  Ask yourselves whether you would really marry one another if there were no pregnancy.

14. IF your backgrounds or cultures differ so greatly that strong differences of opinion about important matter have already occurred, the difficulties will more than likely increase when you marry. Further, IF one partner consistently compromises and the other never does, resentment might eventually build up on both sides. You should be able to meet one another at least halfway.

Copyright – 1992 Augsburg Fortress

Taken with permission from

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