Is It Time to Tie the Knot?
As St. Valentine’s Day rolls around and we are approaching the Spring time the thought of love begins to enter the air. At this time many people begin to look to make what seems like a great relationship into something more permanent with the commitment of marriage. This is good…right? You love each other and that is what it takes…right?
YES… if the time is right, you have established the right relationship structure and you truly understand the other person and what you are getting into. The fact is that about 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Logic dictates that, though the people who entered into this sacred union likely loved one another and believed that they were ready, these people were ill prepared for what was to come. It is an interesting observation to see that even when you Google “Why should a man get married?” then you will also see plenty of results espousing the reasons men do not want to marry or why you should not marry.
The fact is that this is a SERIOUS decision. You want it to work and incidentally this decision will determine 90% of your happiness in the years to follow. So? What do you do?
Marriage as an institution has been around since the dawn of man. Divorce in the mainstream is actually a recent phenomenon. Why is this? Several reasons come to mind.
In our earliest days as humans the notion of marriage was directly related to survival including the survival of the species. Pair bonding was essential to protection and nurturing of offspring as the female and child were at risk with the infant in her arms. It was difficult to run as well as fend off attack by predators while carrying a baby. As well, productivity regarding food was difficult with your hands tied to a helpless infant most of the time while moving in a hunter-gatherer economy. As a result, the pair bond helped to ensure that the male could provide protection from predators and also assist the mother with gathering food needed to survive. In this process the survival of the bloodline of the male was better assured.
Later, as societies began to live a more agrarian and stable life, the concept of arranged marriages was introduced. The idea behind this is that the parents of the betrothed had the best interest of the young couple in mind and were able to look at it from a logical 30,000-foot view assuring the best outcome in the long run. The question in their minds was “what does this union offer besides the emotional attraction that will benefit both?” Life was still very challenging and a person who gave up when the going got tough was a reflection of poor character and almost certainly the type you felt you could not count on. Quitters who wouldn’t have your back if they didn’t have the back of the one they loved.
We don’t necessarily promote arranged marriages. But consider this; these days as we have slid into a more “me, my, I and self” society the question is more often “What’s in it for me?” rather than “What’s in it for us?”. Decisions are often made based upon the emotional comfort that the existing relationship brings or perhaps the great physical reward of consistent sex. These “reasons” begin to falter and collapse once the needs of the partner begin to come into play. Often these needs that you never even thought of prior to making the commitment. And…get this…even if you are living together now the dynamic WILL be different once the vows are exchanged.
This is a reality check but not a laundry list of reasons you should stay single. Again it comes down to timing and preparedness. Have you matured to the point that you do not have the childish instinct to think of self always first? Have you prepared yourself for the change to come by becoming best educated on the issue and having a fairly thorough understanding of your partner? Also, have you prepared your foundation for the changes and obligations that you are assuming?
Let’s look at some common issues in marriages and explore the preparatory groundwork you will need to do prior to jumping in:
- Finances. Almost all couples have challenges when they encounter the bills and other financial issues. For example; who is the spender among you and who likes to save? Are both of you financially disciplined? Have you established a firm foundation of education, career/entrepreneurship, own a home, minimized your debt structure, have a significant savings to deal with the emergencies that will likely arise as you begin a family? Do you or your partner feel the need for social recognition using money? These are hard questions but they must be addressed prior to getting into a lifelong contract with your partner. If these things are not in place or if you or your partner lack the maturity to recognize that your friends are not paying your bills, then maybe this is not the right time or the right partner. It is not important to impress your friends with money but rather with character. Maybe those are the wrong friends.
Incidentally, who is paying for the wedding? Can they afford it? If it is you then remember you spouse will be paying it too. You are crazy to go into hock to pay for a wedding. Sure this is such a special day for the bride and she has had dreams of this day since forever. If you are paying for it, then make sure you wait until you can pay cash for the expense. Why start marriage thousands of dollars in debt with that debt not paying for itself like college debt would.
Here is a check list for financial preparation for getting married:
- Debt free except for student or business loans. (It is unfair to ask your spouse to absorb debt you have created unless that debt is designed to pay for itself.)
- Completed your first college or technical school degree (This is something to fall back on in case something happens while you are in additional schools if planned)
- In a stable career or entrepreneurship
- Have enough saved up for a 20% down payment on a home (or very close)
- Have enough to pay cash for the engagement ring
Read the rest of the article in our upcoming issue of Surpass Magazine.