So you're planning to get married. That's great! You grow up thinking that you'd get married someday. That's the norm; that's the ideal. Despite the high divorce rate and the cynical marriage jokes most adults want to be married. A recent survey of twenty-something's found that 94% of them wanted to get married someday.
Marry in haste, repent and repent and repent
But, is marriage right for you? More specifically, is marriage at this time to this person right for you? Just because you aspire to being married someday doesn't mean that today is the day. Or this month, or this year, or this person.
It feels as though someone we know is getting divorced with every passing day. With the decrease in marriage rates, it also seems as if there are a lot more divorces than marriages . Perhaps too many people are getting married too soon.
Ironically, the number of young people who get married has taken a notable dive. Today, the average age for first marriage is 27 for men. For women it is 25. This phenomenon is being attributed to what is being called “extended adolescence”. People are simply taking longer – for many reasons, such as education, careers, and others – to get married. In fact, one third of all males in their 20's still live at home with their parents.
The Wedding as Show Business
Due to this extended wait for marriage, couples have more time to plan their weddings. Older couples generally have more money to spend on weddings. As a result, weddings are becoming much larger affairs – at least in terms of money spent. In 2004 the average cost of a wedding was more than $27,000. When such an investment has been made, the pressure is truly on the couple to go through with the ceremony, even if the bride or groom has doubts or uncertainties about the marriage-to-be.
However, since divorce is more readily acceptable, it is becoming more common that couples get married without the commitment of staying together for life. They know deep down that if the marriage doesn't work, there is an “out”. They can get a divorce and try again with someone else. So even if they have felt pressured to go through with the wedding, they still feel as though there is an alternative. They don't really have to commit. There's always an “out”.
When making the decision to get married, evaluate your reasons with a list of pros and cons. If you feel that you are on the losing end, perhaps you should re-evaluate your decision to get married. If you will be giving up a career, your friends, or your family than perhaps marriage is not the best move at this time. If your partner truly loves you and not the idea of getting married, s/he will understand. He'll be angry for a while, of course. But the years will prove the wisdom of your decision.
Prenups for you and me
If you are certain that you are in love, but want to cover all your bases, you may want to draft a prenuptial agreement. “Prenups” were designed to minimize arguments and legal bills if/when a couple divorced. But, prenups are also valuable because they force couples to discuss what may be major issues in their marriage. This communication in itself may calm some of the doubts you may have been feeling. Discussing these topics before the wedding is much more effective than arguing about them afterwards.
Be Fair by Being Selfish
Most of all, be fair to your partner by staying true to yourself. If getting married doesn't really feel right, have the courage to speak to your partner. Call a halt to the wedding or delay it until you do feel ready. Breaking it off before the wedding is much kinder than fighting each other in divorce court later. By listening to your inner voice you may be sparing both your partner and yourself a lifetime of heartache and misery.
Remember, also, that you should not be marrying in order to either escape your current lifestyle or situation. Nor should you act out a childhood fantasy of having the perfect wedding. Marriage should not been seen through dreamy love-blinded eyes. Marriage is a real life commitment and responsibility between two adults. Approach it with eyes and heart and mind open.
Dr. Alan Stafford, Relationship Results Coach
I help Singles and Couples build relationships that work
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©2005 Alan Stafford/Relationship Success Experts