When not to get Married

When not to get Married

Marriages fail, according to the divorce statistics for South Africa divorces increased by 28% from 2012 to 2013. Some experts say this is because it is easy to get a divorce in South Africa, attorneys and counsellors put it down to problems with  finances, adultery, unrealistic expectations and a lack of sexual intimacy. Blog articles I perused mentioned other reasons such as lack of communication, lack of trust, religious and cultural differences, abuse, and different priorities and interests to name but a few.

What the above does point to is that people usually get divorced for one or more reasons and it is conceivable that some of the above contributing factors were known prior to the marriage but the couple chose to ignore them in the hopes that they would cease or be solved when married; or one, or both, of the partners felt they could bring about change in the other when finally married and fully committed to each other - a strategy that seldom, if ever, works.

During the counselling process I am sometimes ask the question "Should I be marrying this person?", a decision I cannot make for a client but one a client needs to seriously consider and make for themselves, taking into account the consequences for themselves, one way or the other. However, below are some points to process when seriously considering this question.

1. You have dreamed of a wedding and this is your one chance
Choosing to get married simply because of the event , the wedding, is not a good enough reason to get married. You should be planning for the marriage not the wedding. We are living in a time where many brides and grooms focus on the invites, outfits, colour schemes, themes, photographs, ceremony and celebration rather than the actual commitment, the seriousness of what they are contracting to. It is the ending of this contract that can cause a lot of long term heart ache not only for the two who originally contracted to marry but the possible children that may result out of the relationship.

2. You are afraid of being on your own
Marriage is not an escape from being lonely. This is a an issue of self and one you need to work through and understand before committing to a relationship such as marriage. It is not healthy or fair to the other partner in the marriage for them to simply be a prop on whom you are dependent. Working through this in counselling would be advised

3. You have persistent doubts
Certainly do not ignore the doubts, especially if they are not a fleeting  occurrence, the usual "cold feet". Seek counselling, even couple counselling, in order  to understand why the doubts exist rather than entering into a marriage you are already unsure of. Counselling can allow you to understand why you feel this way, and possibly deal with the relevant issues before marriage. It can lead to a situation where the doubts are confirmed and the relationship ended. Neither you or your partner should be coerced into marriage.

4. You have just met
To be married at this stage is usually unwise. You in the "infatuated, puppy love" stage of a relationship and much of our feelings towards each other, while they may feel amazing, are largely due to chemicals in our body and have little to do with sound reasoning. It is at this stage that we have the ability to overlook or not even see glaring problems, problems that do not go away, and become significant problems later in the relationship. Waiting for a time when there is increased clarity regarding each other and insight into the relationship, and fewer "love" chemicals, you are better able to make an informed decision.

5. You are already engaged
It is not too late to call a wedding off at this point, especially if you are unsure about the decision to marry. It is understandably complicated but it is not a reason to stay in a relationship if breaking it off is what you know is required. It will be more costly financially and emotionally to end it later when you have married.

6. You just want to get out of your parents home
There are various options available if one needs to leave a troubled home. Marriage could be a trade of one lot of problems for another set of problems.

7. You think you won't find anyone better to marry
Do not undervalue yourself and if you are struggling with concept of self, self esteem or self worth it is once again suggested that you deal with these issues in counselling. Rather wait for a time when your reason for marrying is because you understand your value and the value you bring to the relationship.

8. You are in an abusive relationship
You are being hit, slapped, threatened, intimidated, verbally put down, or forced to do things you do not want to do by your partner. Marriage should be based on respect and not fear. It is unlikely that relationships that are already abusive before marriage will improve once you are married.

9. You, or your partner, or both of you are addicts
You or your partner are dependent on or have an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. It may be that this is a co-dependent relationship that is unhealthy for either of the partners.

10. One or both of the partners are unable to be faithful in the relationship
If there is a lack of fidelity in the relationship prior to the the marriage is is unlikely to change when the couple are married.

11. You and your partner have major issues which you avoid talking about because it might upset your relationship
Communication is foundational to any marriage relationship. If as a couple you cannot discuss and solve difficult issues this unhelpful and unhealthy pattern will continue into the marriage potentially leading to continual conflict.

12. You have no clear plan or understanding of how your finances will work when you are married
As mentioned right at the beginning of this article finances can play a major role in couples divorcing. Clarity around finances, budgets, whose money will pay for what, can one member of the couple not work and be a stay at home parent, needs to be established. This issue needs to be discussed before the marriage so that each member of the couple has a clear understanding of how their life together will be financed and what each persons financial expectations are.

The above are a few important point to consider but there are also others reasons as to why one should not be considering marriage and a quick search of the internet will likely bring them to light. However, the above by no means implies one should not get married or that a happy marriage is not attainable - they are.