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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 can.

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 love.

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 the courtship.

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 years later.


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.

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