Before You Decide to Marry
Before You Decide to Marry
By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
This is an open letter to all who are about to marry.
As a mental health professional interested in preventing
marital unhappiness, I would ask you to consider a number of questions before
you decide to marry. You are about to make what is probably the most important
decision in your life - one that could bring you either joy or pain - so it
would be in your best interests to make it as carefully and objectively as you
Remember that many marriages end in divorce, while probably
many other married persons are unhappy but stay together for a variety of reasons,
so your chances of having a successful marriage are not exactly favorable. I
tell you this not to scare you about marriage but to enable you to realize that
a successful marriage requires a firm commitment to make it successful
and plenty of hard work.- The more realistic your expectations for your marriage,
the better are the chances that it will succeed.
Do you love yourself? You can't really love another person
unless you do. Without self love, you will come to expect too much love from
your mate and will not be able to give it fully in return. In addition, you
will be unable to completely accept love from your intended spouse since
it will clash with your feelings about yourself that you are not worthy of receiving
Have you done everything that you want to do before marriage
- finished your education, traveled, dated many different people, had a job
and apartment on your own, etc.? Needless to say, these things are harder, or
impossible, to attain once you're married, especially after the children arrive.
Too many people later in life regret having married young and having missed
many opportunities in life.
Do you like, admire, and respect your intended spouse? If
you believe that "being in love" is the most important criterion for
choosing a mate, as many people do, I feel you have been misled and misinformed
by our society with its emphasis on good looks, youth, sex appeal, and romantic
love. If your marriage is to succeed, genuine love will develop and grow later
and will be based upon an accurate, honest knowledge of each other's qualities
and not upon the limited, sometimes false impressions that are presented during
Do you and your intended spouse have much in common? Do
you share similar beliefs, interests, and backgrounds? The more you do, the
greater will be the chances that yours will be a successful marriage since you
will be better able to support each other and share many pleasurable experiences.
It is the mutual giving of support and pleasure that will create and strengthen
the love between you.
Does your intended spouse fulfill most of your needs, and
will he or she be able to continue to do so five, ten, or twenty years from
now? Mutual need fulfillment is the essence of love, but remember your
needs will change as you grow older so you want to be sure that your mate will
be flexible enough to change to meet your changing needs, and vice versa.
Can you two communicate fully, honestly, and openly with
each other, and work out differences or disagreements to the satisfaction of
both? The ability to communicate and compromise or negotiate your differences
is what makes a successful marriage work.
My questions may sound too cold and analytic - and certainly
unromantic but if you have answered "NO" to any of them, I would implore
you to discuss these questions with your intended and to seek premarital counseling
if you are still unable to answer them affirmatively. To decide not to marry
now would be easier than to face the possibility of a divorce, with all the
complications it would cause you, your spouse, and your children, many pain-filled
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with
Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book,
Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com,
all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors
copyright and website hyperlinks.