I remember in my early twenties considering the idea of not being married. Three facts swirled through my mind constantly… all adding up to me thinking I wasn’t “marriage material:”
1) My parents are divorced. What if I was to make the same mistakes they did?!
2) Independent woman syndrome. I was completely capable of taking care of myself and proud of it. What on earth did I need a spouse for?!
3) I loved to date! I loved the tremendous options and excitement dating provided me as well as the fact that as soon as a relationship wasn’t working for me I could leave it with minimal consequence. Would that appeal ever go away?!
Then something changed. I stopped assuming that my love story would mirror my parents' story. I stopped thinking of marriage as solely a combining of assets (financial and otherwise). And finally, I realized that getting married isn’t a dating death sentence. In short, for me, I grew up.
According to a guy I heard on the radio today, marriage is like getting a tattoo. For some people, they get a tattoo and love it forever – no regrets (=happy marriage). For others, they get a tattoo and wish they hadn’t (=unhappy marriage). And for others still, they get a tattoo and hate it so much that they painfully remove it, despite the scar it will inevitably leave (=divorce). There is a lot of truth in this analogy – the bottom line being, marriage isn’t a good fit for everyone. So the question therein lies, how do you know if it is a good fit for you? How do you know if you have the capacity for marriage?
As a wedded woman for a mere 18 months, here is what I’ve learned about what it takes to be married:
1) You have to be excited by the idea of dating the same man over and over again. This notion can’t feel like a death sentence – it has to feel like a great privilege.
2) You have to be comfortable with the idea of sharing EVERYTHING – from finances to feelings to unsavory bodily functions… and everything in between.
3) You need a CAN-DO attitude. Marriage is NOT for the lazy or the negative. Great relationships don’t just happen… they are created.
4) You have to be willing to compromise, regularly. Sometimes you need to be OK with agreeing to disagree. And sometimes, you have to just be willing to “lose” for the greater good.
5) You need to be happy with and without your partner. It is not your partner’s job to make you happy and vice versa.
6) You have to value loyalty. Regardless if you choose a monogamous relationship or not, commitment to your partner in a variety of forms, is key.
7) You have to want to grow. Neither you nor your partner should be the same person or couple that you were when you met. Sustainable marriages rely on individual and partner growth.
When reading this list, pay attention to how you feel (not think) in reaction to it. Are you calm, or does anxiety build? If you become anxious, what criteria makes you anxious, and why?