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“If something on the inside is telling you that someone isn’t right for you, they’re NOT right for you, no matter how great they might look on paper. When it’s right for you, you will know. And when it’s not – it’s time to go.”~Mandy Hale
Did you recently start dating someone who makes you feel like he or she may be “marriage material?” Or, maybe you have been dating someone for a while, and feel like you should take the next step…cough…cough…marriage… Perhaps, you’ve been thinking about marriage lately, and wondering if you really want to get married one day.
However, the most common scenario is that you’ve been dating someone special for a while and feel like there is a real possibility that you may want to marry him or her – now or in the future. But although you know this person and love him or her dearly, there is something missing or wrong – something that makes you question if you should marry him or her. Perhaps you have some real concerns aka “red flags” that are preventing you from wanting to take that monumental leap of faith.
Pressure from all sides
Sadly, many young adults end-up in unsatisfying or abusive marriages because they feel like they should get married by a certain time – usually in their early-to-mid 20s. So, they ignore the “red flags” because they want to be “in-step” with other young adults.
It is this desperate need to “fit in” with other young adults coupled with a loneliness and desire to gain a lifelong BFF that causes them to forego the early warning signs. But, this is the worst thing you can do if you are a 20-something. In other words, modeling your life and/or relationship after others will most likely end in the two Ds – disaster and divorce.
Friends and Family
Then, there are family members, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, who only compound these issues by encouraging you to “take the leap.” They mean well but have no idea how much pressure it places on you to get married.
Talk it out
If you are seriously contemplating getting married soon, hash out any concerns and issues before you walk down the aisle. Why? Because those concerns and issues will not disappear once you get married. In fact, they will *probably* worsen.
Ask lots of questions before “popping the question” or accepting a marriage proposal. The goal is to prevent hurt feelings and future divorce. So, communicate and try to work through issues before making this commitment.
If you are unable to compromise or come to a resolution, contact a couples counselor or marriage counselor (for pre-marital guidance). You may also be able to receive relationship counseling at your local church, mosque, cathedral, or synagogue. The goal is to address and resolve these issues before you commit yourselves to each other for life.
Understand that if you are looking for a perfect spouse, you will be disappointed. Why? Because that person does not exist – just like you are not perfect. Be realistic and don’t set your expectations so high that it is impossible for your future spouse to reach them.
It is easy to dismiss or ignore “red flags” in a relationship when you think there is a chance at “forever” with someone. Most people, especially young adults, want to get married and start a family with their partners so badly that they are willing to overlook lies, an emotional disconnect, betrayal, and even infidelity to achieve these goals.
Keep in mind that getting married to someone for a lifetime is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. When you marry someone, you open your heart, mind, bed, and home to your spouse, so you don’t want to rush into something only to later realize you made a colossal mistake.
If you feel an uncontrollable urge to “fix” your partner, don’t marry him or her, because there is no guarantee he or she will eventually reach your high expectations and become the person you had hoped he or she would be.
Marriage changes people – sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Regardless, when most people enter marriages they expect to be together forever. Thus, acknowledging “red flags” and addressing them is important for your relationship, mental health, and future.
Five reasons you should NOT marry your partner
Listed below are five reasons you should not get married:
- Your partner is a manipulator, moocher, or abuser.
- You think you can “fix” your partner.
- You don’t know much about your partner.
- Your partner has a “bad” or unhealthy relationship with his/her family.
- Your partner is controlling or demeaning.
Avoid marrying someone because of potential
The worst thing you can do is marry someone simply because he or she has “potential.” Why? Because there is a good chance you’ll be sorely disappointed. You’ll also put a lot of pressure on your partner to be what you have envisioned him or her to be. The result? Marital conflict and/or possibly a separation or divorce.
So, if you plan to marry someone do it because you love and want to be with that person, as is – not because you think he or she will be something greater or better later. If you are unsure if you want to marry your partner, make a list of things you “admire,” “love,” and “dislike” about him or her. If the “dislikes” outweigh the things you “admire” and “love,” those are “red flags” that you should NOT marry your partner.
Pay attention to the emotional connection
Another “red flag” that you should NOT marry your partner is if there is no emotional connection between you. If you are planning to marry your partner, you should feel bonded to him or her.
More specifically, if you don’t feel respected, valued, special, loved, protected, and cherished by your partner, he or she may not be the right person for you. The truth is, you won’t gain these things once you get married. In fact, it could get worse over time. Emotional intimacy is vital for marital health and success.
If this is lacking, you will not have the “backing” or foundation you need to make it through the rocky periods in your marriage. If you pay attention to your emotional connection, it will tell you if you should or should not marry your partner.
Make sure you have similar life plans
Marriage can make two people grow stronger together or grow apart altogether. Sharing similar life plans can increase the odds that you’ll have a successful marriage. So, a “red flag” that you should NOT get married is if you have totally or mostly different life plans – i.e. goals, values, lifestyles, beliefs, and dreams.
How can you tell if you have similar life plans? Well, by asking each other the following questions: “What inspires you?” “What are your beliefs?” “Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?” “Do you want kids? If so, how many and when?” “What are your goals and dreams?”
Compare your answers. If you have most of the same goals and values, you have similar life plans – if not, it may be a “red flag” NOT to get married.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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