The institution of marriage has long been idealized in the United States, especially when compared to other developed nations in the world. Here, getting married for the first time is a huge milestone in most people’s lives. Little girls dream about it. Mothers and fathers insist on it. The gay community lobbies for it. It is the norm within our society.
However, 40% - 50% of first-time marriages in the United States end in divorce. Clearly, most couples aren’t thinking about divorce when they are planning their wedding – but, given this statistic, they should. Divorce can be psychologically devastating. It can destroy your self-esteem. It can cripple you financially. It can negatively impact the wellbeing of your children. Choosing the right partner when it comes to marriage is the key to decreasing this statistic. Overall, fewer people would get married, but those marriages would have a far better chance of success.
Here are 7 things you need to know before taking the plunge:
1. The Wedding Is Not The Goal
The goal is to create a fulfilling, sustainable marriage. The wedding is just the exciting beginning of (what is meant to be) a life-long partnership based on shared values and goals. Given the time, effort and money that goes into a wedding these days, it’s no surprise that it feels like a major accomplishment. And it is. However, the REAL accomplishment is in fulfilling your vows on a daily basis – “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” I know, I know. Making the wedding the goal is SO much easier. It is more immediate and you get to check the box afterward on your list of things to do before the age of 35. If you don’t shift your perspective on what is most important though, your odds of celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary are cut in half.
2. Invest More In The Honeymoon, Than The Wedding
There is a huge emphasis on weddings in our society. Weddings have become a major industry in their own right with the average wedding coming in around $30,000. And they typically take at least a year to plan. Family and friends are all involved in making this the celebration of your life. And there is huge emotional investment in a wedding. Everyone involved wants it to be just “perfect.” There is no such thing as perfect though. Social expectations around what a wedding “should be” often become more important than what it really is – a celebration of two people’s love and commitment to one another. In many ways, weddings are now more for the guests than the two people getting married. While celebration is important, the real celebration of the relationship occurs during the honeymoon as you begin to fulfill your vows of love, honor and respect. It is these first steps that set the stage for the rest of your married life. Honor that private time together as much as possible. It is rare to have such focused time together in our fast-paced society and it deserves to be cherished in its own right. This is where the real work of marriage begins.