In a world that celebrates relationships and finding the perfect soulmate as one of the highest achievable goals, it can be hard, if not downright impossible, to wait for the right partner.
Statistics today suggest that as many as 50% of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce – and, specifically, research indicates that 41% of first-time marriages won’t survive.
While there are many legitimate reasons a marriage might not last, one reason so many marriages fall apart: Men rush into making a marriage commitment. But why?
Sometimes, after a couple has dated for a year or two, it seems like marriage is the next logical step in the relationship.
Especially if friends or family members date for a shorter amount of time and get engaged, it can start to feel like maybe you should, too.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why not?” or perhaps a well-meaning parent or grandparent has started dropping not-so-subtle hints about receiving an invitation to a wedding soon.
So, does this mean marriage after a couple of years of dating is the right decision?
A well-known quote attributed to an unknown source says it best: “You don’t marry the person you can live with; you marry the person you can’t live without.”
It’s only at the point when you realize marriage isn’t just the next logical step but rather the only logical choice that walking the aisle becomes the best decision you can make.
Belonging is one of the greatest gifts a human being can give and receive. No question about it.
And a good marriage can provide a deep sense of belonging in this crazy world.
But to the degree that a healthy marriage can give you an adequate sense of belonging, an unhealthy marriage can make you feel less like you belong than just about anything else.
People who are in a bad marriage describe the feeling as being stuck, stifled, or imprisoned in their own homes.
If you’re looking to belong, then invest yourself more deeply in your family, community, job, or place of worship.
Don’t look to the wrong life partner to provide you with what they cannot offer.
Believe it or not, dating burnout is an actual phenomenon.
Instead of “marrying the girl next door,” you now have every imaginable dating app at your disposal to meet every possible person on the planet. Hello, dating overwhelm.
You know this by now, but dating requires a lot of work, involves a lot of social pressure, demands a lot of time, and drains a lot of financial and emotional resources. Dating is not for the faint of heart.
So, while dating is an important step on the road to finding a life partner, it makes total sense that dating can lead to exhaustion and burnout. This is absolutely normal.
That said, dating burnout is absolutely the worst reason to settle on the wrong partner and rush into the wrong marriage.
If you’re burnt out or tired of the relentless dating cycle, give yourself permission to stop dating for a while. Yes, you can do that!
The dating world will be there waiting for you when you return.
The best dating partner is the one who doesn’t need to be dating in order to be happy or healthy.
This may actually be one of the most frequently cited reasons people knowingly stay with the wrong partner.
Our own skewed logic can be one of our worst enemies when trying to think carefully about whether to get married.
Note: Fear-based motivations for marriage are always dangerous.
Fear that it’s the last chance to get married, fear that nobody else will be available or interested, fear that the biological clock is ticking…
If your reason for considering marriage begins with the words, “I fear if I don’t…” then it’s the wrong reason.
The list of fears related to marriage is long, but most fears are irrational and only put unnecessary and unhelpful pressure on the dating couple and can lead to disastrous consequences.
It’s true. Many people enjoy a happy marriage. But it’s important to understand that marriage isn’t what makes them happy. Happiness is always an internal job.
Unhappy people who get married are still unhappy after marriage. And happy people who get married tend to find reasons to remain happy after marriage.
Marriage may be filled with many happy moments, but marriage cannot fix what is wrong or broken.
Rather than looking for someone to make you happy, seek to become happy with or without a life partner – your chances of having a happy marriage will be much higher.
True, weddings and honeymoons are really fun. But marriage is about so much more than a single day or vacation.
In fact, marriage is really about what happens after the big day – not what happens on the big day.
It has been rightly said that too many couples spend their time and energy preparing for their wedding and not preparing for their marriage.
This may be why so many marriages fall apart.
Planning an impulse vacation or even deciding on a whim to move to a new house or state typically has fewer consequences than impulsively jumping into a marriage.
The average cost of a divorce is roughly $13,000, and the emotional damage can be just as costly.
If you want to do something fun and impulsive, change your hairstyle, or plan a party; don’t make a major life commitment.
If your relationship with your current partner goes through toxic cycles that leave you believing marriage might be the only solution, don’t make the mistake of jumping into matrimony.
Marriage is never actually the solution to anything – marriage is a commitment.
Getting married will only amplify whatever is already right or wrong with the existing relationship. Issues involving communication, finances, jealousy, or sex will only experience greater pressure within the bonds of marriage.
If a partner ever threatens to leave unless you agree to marriage, let the partner leave.
While many cultural and religious institutions understandably teach that it’s right for a couple to get married in the event of a pregnancy, it’s important to understand that pregnancy is actually one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce after a quick marriage. In other words, it may not be the fix that most people think it is.
Some statistics say that as many as 90% of marriages that happen as a result of pregnancy end within six years.
It’s important to note that pregnancy isn’t a reason not to get married. If you and your partner were already planning to get married before the surprise pregnancy, for example, then the pregnancy shouldn’t stand in the way.
And it may be that a surprise pregnancy keeps you in the relationship longer and forces you to take a greater interest in each other’s lives.
But if the marriage wouldn’t have been right without the pregnancy, it won’t be right because of the pregnancy.
It happens again. You log on to social media and see yet another friend is getting married or having a baby.
And you wonder if you will truly be the last person on earth to walk the aisle. Or maybe you worry that if you don’t act quickly, you’ll never walk the aisle at all.
One of the greatest impediments to the right marriage at the right time is the loudly ticking clock. Word to the wise: Ignore it.
While society has come a long way in placing less pressure on people to get married at a young age, there is still a commonly held concept that people should get married, and if they don’t, there’s a problem.
But the greater problem is that people are marrying in droves who shouldn’t be.
If divorce statistics teach us anything, it should be that too many people are marrying too quickly.
Former President Ronald Reagan famously said, “There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.” And he was right.
But it’s critically important that the person on the other side of the door is the right person.
Incidentally, Ronald Reagan was the first divorced person to assume the Presidency of the United States.
His second marriage – to wife Nancy – became known as one of the greatest examples of a happy marriage ever lived out in the public eye.
But it was the marriage that he waited to jump into that made him happiest.
Loneliness is truly one of the most painful feelings in the world. And it makes sense that someone would do everything possible to avoid it.
But loneliness isn’t a good reason for avoiding red flags in a relationship or jumping into a marriage prematurely.
In fact, there are worse feelings than loneliness – and one of those feelings is the utter discomfort and frustration that can come with being married to the wrong person.
One of the famous lines from the movie When Harry Met Sally says, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
If you find someone who makes you truly happy, whom you can make happy in return, and if those who know you best and whom you trust wholeheartedly give their unwavering support, then jump in with both feet.
Just make sure you aren’t rushing it.
Bottom line: Know your reasons for getting married and then make sure the reasons are the best ones.
Marriage is a wonderful institution and works well for millions of couples around the world.
But marriage to the wrong person – or even the right person at the wrong time – can be disastrous.
Instead of rushing into marriage, it’s best to wait until the right person comes along at the right time. With enough faith and patience, it will happen.
And then there will be nothing better than settling down and getting married.