Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why you shouldn't get married.

Like most of you, I have many friends who are in relationships, engaged, and recently married. I am also sad to report that I have many friends who are going through divorce. Now, when you majored in Psychology and your husband majored in Marriage, Family, and Human Development, you can bet that the mechanics of human relationships are a frequent part of conversation in our home. 

A lot of people talk about why you should tie the knot with that special someone. Here are a few reasons why you might want to hold off a bit.

Your problems will go away once you get married. 

Sure, some problems will go away, but they'll be replaced by a mountain of new ones. Kristen Oaks got married for the first time at age 53. She has since spoken to young single adults in large group settings on the topic. In one such speech, she discusses her thought that life would get better once she got married. She also reports the advice she received regarding that thought:
"[I was told], 'If you cannot bear the difficulties and challenges of single life, you will never be able to bear the difficulties and challenges of married life.' I sat a bit stunned. . . If I made a happy single life for myself, it would determine the happiness I would have as a married [person], and I wanted a happy future.
"Life is a challenge, but it will always be a challenge--single or married."
Your family will finally stop bugging you.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the bugging will never stop. Once you're married, it's "When are those kids gonna start coming?" and "You want to move so far away. Why don't you live closer?" and "Isn't it about time for [first child] to have a sibling to play with?" and so on. If anything, marriage makes the bugging exponentially worse. 

You're the only single one left.

Please know that if you're single after most (or all) of your friends are married, that doesn't mean you're weird. I hate to say this, but some of your friends' marriages aren't going to make it. Let's be real here: the divorce rate in the USA is 50% and most of those marriages only made it for 5-8 years. Don't compare where you are in your life to where others are in theirs. You don't know how their stories are going to turn out.

You're in love.

Contrary to Disney, love does not conquer all. In fact, many people who divorce are still in love. Yes, love can make you feel wanted and appreciated. Love can bring out the best, too. But love doesn't pay the bills. Love doesn't change life-long bad habits overnight or annoying quirks and it won't hide them in the end. Pay close attention to what seems like the "little things"--disagreements and challenges you and your partner have now--because it's not just going to go away or get better once you say "I do." 

Another blogger said it best:
"[It's] really easy to overlook [the little things] during a relationship when the bigger things--the way your partner makes you laugh or how beautiful are feel around him or her--attract your attention more. When we're 'in love' we tend to not notice the small things that could drive you crazy months later."
It's also important to be honest and ask yourself if you're actually in love or just emotionally attached. Emotional attachment can make you feel wanted, appreciated, and connected to someone on a deeper level than simple friendship, but that doesn't mean it's love. The two can often be hard to distinguish when you're in that happy place.

You don't have the same life goals.

You may really be in love, but if your future outlook and long-term goals aren't compatable, your future marriage won't be, either.

You can't compromise.

Compromise is when there's give and take on both sides, not all give on one and all take on the other. If you're asking that your partner do things to fit your ideal relationship mold but not really wanting to do most of what your partner asks, don't be surprised when things fall apart later down the road. 

You're the one doing all the compromising.

Along the same lines as the last point, if you're the one who always seems to be changing your ways to make things work, know that you are going to hit a breaking point at some time and it's not going to be pretty. Don't be afraid to assert yourself and let your partner know that you have some ideas, too (even if they've previously been dismissed) and that those ideas deserve serious conversation.

You haven't talked about/are avoiding certain topics.

Politics, religion, money, where to spend the holidays, spousal roles, etc. Some couples don't want to go there while others don't talk about things like this simply because they haven't thought to. Here are some links to fun books for couples that are loaded with pre-marriage conversation topics:  

101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged
1001 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married
100 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married
300 Questions LDS Couples Should Ask Before Marriage (For those who are either of my faith or are religious, as this book contains many secular and general religious questions)

You're not thinking about children.

This one only applies to couples who want to raise children. Too many people get married thinking they've figured out all the compromises they need to make their lives together work...and then children come. If you haven't done so already, find out where your partner stands on the issues that you feel are most important in raising your children. How they grow up and turn out is largely dependant on what both of you do; If both of you say the kids should do something but only one of you enforces it, the children will want to side with whichever parents' way seems easiest. 

Don't assume. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page.

You're lonely.

A common myth is that marriage eliminates loneliness. If you want to get married just to have someone by your side, you may want to reconsider: If you two aren't on the same page with the things that are most important in your lives, you may experience a type of loneliness in marriage that's far worse than simply being by yourself.

You want to get married.

The desire to marry is a good one, but don't jump the gun if you haven't found someone whose emotions, lifestyle, desires, and values complement your own. It may be hard to wait, but backpedaling--or worse, living in denial--is even harder.


  1. I agree, Sarah. Marriage for marriage's sake is not a good idea. My wife and I got to know each other extensively through letters before we even fell in love physically, and it really helped to establish a base of honesty and openness for us.

    I think that it is important also to realize that we change constantly. I, for example, went through a time recently where a lot of my world views changed, and I was really worried that I would change too much for my wife. However, through multiple conversations, she has come to understand my mental and spiritual transformation, and has been very supportive. I'm so grateful for her. Our love is strengthened by our honesty.

    1. I think you hit another nail right on the head: honest communication is a key factor in a successful marriage. If you can't talk openly about what's going on in your life, problems will inevitably come.


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