One of the most important things that I have learned through divorce is that when you get married, it should be to someone who doesn’t just tick the right boxes, but someone who feels right to your soul. If something feels off with the relationship, chances are that something is off and you may be headed for a difficult marriage. It is a recipe for disaster to enter into a marriage with the expectation that you or your spouse will change and become more compatible.
Getting married at 20 comes with a lot of unrealistic expectations and naive ideas of what the future will hold. As grown-up as you may feel at 20, you will undergo some major changes throughout the years. By the age of 25 I changed dramatically and no longer was the same person who got married at 25. My likes changed, my dreams changed, and my desires matured. I no longer suited a marriage that was controlling and I no longer wanted my life to revolve around someone else’s idea of what my life should be like.
As a woman in her 30s I now realize that a lot of soul-searching needs to happen before we can commit our lives to another person. How can we avoid divorce? Well, we can start by asking ourselves these questions before making a life-long commitment.
- Would I be happy with this person for the rest of my life if all of their flaws never improved?
Many times people agree to get married, with the thought that once they have said, “I do” everything else will fall into place. We believe that our relationship will get better and we will be able to help transform our spouse, but it is extremely unwise to enter into a marriage with this belief. Yes, many times people mature with age, realize their faults, and work on bettering themselves, but this isn’t always a guarantee. Furthermore, when it comes to personality traits such as narcissism and manipulation or habits that are deeply ingrained in us, it isn’t always possible to change. If you are entering into a marriage with the expectation that the other person can or will change, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
2. Does This Person Make Me Want To Be A Better Person?
There were many red flags in my second marriage, that I truly wish I would have recognized for what they were, but there was one particular red flag that was so glaringly obvious that I am embarrassed that I ignored it. I should have realized it when I was asked, “Does he make you want to be a better person?” and I replied, “Not at all. As a matter of fact, I think he makes me a worse person.” I may have been emotionally blinded by the pain of my first divorce, or maybe I was just refusing to see the truth because I didn’t want to be alone, but whatever the reason, I was a complete idiot for hearing those words leave my mouth and not listening to what it meant. If being with your partner makes you feel like a worse person than when you met them, RUN! When you are with the person you are supposed to be with you will want to be the best version of yourself.
3. Do Our Views On The Important Things Align?
Sometimes when we fall in love we are willing to compromise on things that we normally wouldn’t compromise on. We think, maybe this isn’t as big of an issue as we originally thought, because we want to be with the person and don’t want to believe that maybe they aren’t right for us. Compromise is extremely important in relationships, but when it comes to the things that are most important to you, you should never compromise. Whether it is the desire or lack of desire to have children, religion, career, education, travel, etc. if something is extremely important to you, then don’t settle for less to be with someone who doesn’t share that same value.
In my first marriage I discovered after getting married that my spouse didn’t want children. It broke my heart because I had always dreamed of becoming a mom and he was well aware of that. I was so in love with him that I overlooked this issue and even allowed him to convince me that I really shouldn’t want kids either. After divorcing I kept the mindset that I was better off without children and that I didn’t want them, until I accidentally got pregnant 10 years later. Becoming pregnant was like flipping a switch in my mind that had been turned off by my ex-husband. All of my motherly desires returned and I surprised myself by the immense joy I began to feel as the idea of becoming a mom came to fruition. I realized that I had allowed my true desires to be manipulated by that first marriage and although I am happy that I didn’t have children tied to an ex, it made me sad to know that I had compromised such an important part of my life so that I could be with the wrong person.
If your views on children, religion and other important parts of life, then it may be time for you to decide if you will regret compromising these aspects of your life for someone who may not be right for you.
4. What Is My Intuition Saying About This Person?
Listening to your intuition is EXTREMELY important when selecting a person to spend your life with. After my first divorce I entered into a relationship before I was emotionally ready. I was excited to be with someone new who allowed me to be my true self, loved me obsessively, and made me feel safe, but something always felt wrong with the relationship. Whenever I sat and thought about the relationship I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right and felt sick to my stomach. As comfortable as I felt with him, I never felt truly content and found myself constantly questioning things. After getting married, I quickly realized that the reason that things never felt right was because my intuition was screaming, “He’s not the person for you! Leave now!” I ignored my gut feeling because I was afraid to hurt him, I was afraid to make a mistake by leaving, and I was afraid to start over again. The truth is, filing for divorce after only 1 year of marriage probably hurt him far worse.
If you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right in your relationship, listen to it! If you are constantly questioning the relationship and are asking all of your friends for advice, maybe you should face the hard truth that you are not with the person you are meant for. Your intuition won’t lie to you, trust it.
5. Do Our Financial Habits Mesh Well?
This should be a no-brainer, but once again, we all do stupid things when we fall in love. Are you a saver and your spouse is a spender? Are you constantly contributing to the relationship financially, while your spouse seems to never have money? Is your partner making huge purchases, while you are saving for vacation? If you and your partner are polar-opposites when it comes to money, this can cause HUGE issues in a marriage. Having your finances tied to another person is difficult if you don’t have similar ideas of how to spend and save. Money issues are the biggest reason people divorce. If your partner’s finances stress you out now, don’t tie your financial status to them legally, it just doesn’t make sense!
6. Do We Fight Fair?
Fighting is a normal, healthy part of marriage, but the way we each fight can be very different. I have a quick temper and know this about myself. I have learned that in order for me to fight fairly, I need to give myself time to cool down before I talk or I will say things that I don’t mean. My first marriage was terrible and we fought on a daily basis. My ex was a, “Solve it now” kind of fighter. He couldn’t handle leaving an issue alone and needed to “fix” the problem immediately, which completely conflicted with my fighting style. I would get angry about something and ask for 5 minutes to collect my thoughts, but he would insist that we needed to hash it out right away. I would explain that I wouldn’t be able to have a rational conversation while angry, but he still pushed for resolution. The more he pushed the angrier I would get. I would try to leave the room and he would pin me to the ground and scream his point at me, which would lead me to freak out, cry, scream and start saying mean things. As you can probably tell, this was an extremely unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship. Our fighting styles never aligned and it was very toxic.
With my current husband I can count the amount of fights we’ve had in the last 3 1/2 years on one hand. Each time we have fought it has been respectful and resulted in a better understanding of each other. We both understand the need for cool-down time and don’t go to bed angry. It is important to find someone you can grow with through disagreements and misunderstandings, rather than brawling with regularly. If your fighting styles lead to toxic interactions you really need to think if this will lead to a healthy marriage.
7. Does This Relationship Feel Equal?
If you feel like you are always contributing to the relationship, while your partner barely tries? It is extremely difficult to be in a marriage with someone who doesn’t pull their own weight. Whether you feel like you’re providing more financially, or you’re giving more time to the relationship, or contributing more love, if you are giving more than you are receiving this will only worsen in marriage. In order for you to have a fully functioning marriage, both partners need to be committed to the other person’s happiness and welfare. Don’t get married if you feel the relationship is unequal.
8. Do Our Living Habits Compliment Each Other?
Are you messy, while your partner is a neat-freak? Are you an early riser and your partner is a night owl? Do you like a house in the city while your partner prefers one in the country? There are a lot of ways we can compliment or clash with each other in our lifestyles. Keep this in mind while deciding if you should marry your partner. This coincides with making compromises for our partners that may not necessarily make us happy in the long-run. If you are simply tolerating a messy house now for the sake of hoping to change your partner, you really need to consider if you mind being the sole person keeping the home clean.
The issue of differing lifestyles doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker though. No relationship is perfect and there will always be things about another person that you are going to find annoying, so if you’re fine with this knowledge, that’s great. Your partner may compromise and work with you on living habits, but once again, you should never marry someone with hopes that they will change. You just need to decide which things you can live with and which habits would ultimately drive you insane if you had to deal with them forever.
9. Do I Really Love This Person or Am I Settling?
Approaching my second marriage, I wish I would have considered this question carefully. There is a huge difference between loving someone and being, “in love” with someone. My second husband and I had very similar personalities, we made each other laugh uncontrollably, and we truly became best friends. The main issue was that because I entered into the relationship after a devastating divorce, I was not emotionally ready for a relationship and I confused having great love for him with being in love. As much as I tried to make myself be in love, it isn’t something you can force. I wanted to love him because he seemed perfect for me on paper, but in all reality, he wasn’t right for me at all. I didn’t believe that I could find real love more than once, so I settled for someone who was as close as I thought it would get. This wasn’t just unfair to him, but it was doing myself a great disservice.
Take it from someone who has experienced it first-hand, it is possible to fall in love more than once. Just because you have failed relationships in your past does not make you a failure. Just because someone broke your heart doesn’t make you unlovable. Just because someone is your best friend, doesn’t mean you should marry them. Don’t settle for someone because you are scared you’ll never find better, because you are not doing yourself or your spouse any favors by doing so. True love is possible to find and so worth waiting for!
10. When Looks Have Faded With Age, Will We Still Love Each Other?
Yes, finding someone physically attractive is important in a relationship, but it isn’t the most important aspect. Envision yourself as an 80-year-old. Now, envision your partner as an 80-year-old. I’m guessing that the thought of an 80-year-old probably isn’t getting you super turned on if you aren’t also in that age group. Looks are fading, but personalities, sense of humor, and the ability to have fun are life-long.
Find someone you enjoy being around. Find someone who you have fun with, laugh with, take adventures with, and who values the same things you value. Find someone who knows how weird you are and loves you because of it. Find someone who is kind-hearted and giving and who encourages you. Find someone who spends time with your friends and family, someone who allows you to have alone time and encourages you to have friend time. Most importantly, find someone who feels right in your mind, heart and soul. That’s the person you should marry. Don’t settle for anything less than what is right for you! You are lovable, you are worthy of love, and true love is possible. Trust your gut and be patient. I wish you peace and happiness.
Love Always, Alex Prince – Creator & Editor-In-Chief of Damsel Divorcée