There are few things in life that can be as fulfilling, joyous, frustrating, or as disastrous as marriage. Make no mistake, if you are planning to get married soon, there will be trials and tribulations (to those who have been married for some time now, this statement is a no-brainer). However, you stand to gain one of the most precious things life has to offer. Even considering the infinite amount of variables such as personality, goals, circumstances (both foreseen and unforseen), differing backgrounds, personal flaws, and so on, a succesful marriage IS possible! The idea of this article is not to defame or discourage tying the knot, rather it's purpose is to offer some suggestions for those considering it in the near future. I am not a marriage specialist or counselor. What I do offer is some fresh experience and perspective from some tough lessons learned by both my beautiful wife Lindie and myself. I also highly value my companionship with my wife and feel this happiness is something that other's can attain as well. So my aim is to do my best to help you find it.
The worst attitude you can have going into a marriage is thinking this way...
"We can always get a divorce if things don't work out."
If this is your outlook, you may as well just save yourself the agony of a painful divorce, because that is what will happen. Sure, you can get a divorce. But if you are not 100% committed to taking the leap and whole-heartedly fulfilling those vows, then don't bother. That being said, people can easily look at the prospect of marriage through "rose-colored glasses" as well. Meaning they are simply so excited that they may not see the potential problems that could be lying ahead. As said earlier, problems in general are simply unavoidable. There are, however, problems that can be detected early on, hopefully while dating, that can help you decide if this is really the person for you.
How do you choose the right companion, for life?
In a classic film called "A Bronx Tale" a character played by the great Chazz Palminteri (who also wrote the film as well) gave some wise counsel to a young man he was mentoring. The first key point he addressed was the young Italian/American man's fear of what other people thought about him dating a black girl (this took place in the turbulent 60's, however the value in his response remains). "The only thing that matters is what's good for you, and how you feel about each other. Let me tell you somethin'. When your alone late at night in bed, just you and her, under the covers, that's all that matters, see? You gotta do what your heart tells you." These were poetic words coming from a stereotypical mobster. In modern society, the negative stigma toward interracial couples has largely diminished. But dismissing someone as a potential mate based on any superficial grounds would be downright silly. Granted, you want to be attracted to them, but don't let other people dictate what is or isn't attractive to you and NEVER make a decision (even partially) based on your fear of other people's opinions.
Now, just when you think all of Palminteri's pearls of wisdom are expended, he continues with the proverbial cherry on top. This cherry is called "The Door Test" and it is sweet in it's simplicity. Palminteri lends the young man his car and instructs him thusly (I will abbreviate as he gets slightly detailed here). "You pull up to where she is, you get out of the car and lock both doors. You walk over to her, bring her to the car, unlock the door and let her in. You walk around the back of the car." Here's the important part. "You look through the back window. If she doesn't reach over and lift up that button (he meant lock) for you to get in... dump her." The young man is floored, as he had just told him to follow his heart in such a beautiful speech. Palminteri reiterates once more. "Listen to me kid. If she doesn't reach over and lift up that button for you to get in, that means she's a selfish broad and all your seein' is the tip of the iceberg. You dump her and you dump her fast." While he may lack the tactful touch here, his advice is still incredibly useful. Granted, it is a dated method and most cars have remotes these days. Still, the importance of what he is saying here is profound. Early in courtship, even small red flags of selfish (or otherwise negative) behavior will more than likely become much larger issues down the road. This doesn't make the person a lost cause, but it should certainly carry some weight in your decision.
Mismatching Personalities and Differing Backgrounds
Although every personality is unique, we can also share certain similarities with one another that can ultimately produce both good and bad results. Identifying these pro's and con's is much more challenging then simply identifying flaws. While flaws may stick out like a sore thumb, subtle intricacies of personalities are virtually impossible to decode right away. Also, as personalities change you will continue to learn your mate as they change with you. So the only question to really ask yourself is what you value in others. Is it strength of character?Humility? Sense of humor? Or perhaps, Honesty? In truth, these are ALL desirable qualities. No one will have them all though, and you will need to think deeply about what you truly see as the most valuable.
If you have a sensitive personality type, are easily hurt, or have argumentative tendencies, you may want to avoid others that have strong personality types. They can be blunt and less careful with their words and actions. However, these personality types can also balance your own problems with being too sensitive or lacking assertiveness. You might call this choice "a double-edged sword". Although I hate using such a cliché phrase, it seems to fit here.
Differing Backgrounds can pose whole new problems, as the way some one has lived their life until now will have a HUGE bearing on their behavior and even expectations of others today. Cultural differences can spread spouses even further apart as well. This makes it hard to decide who is right and who is wrong when personal beliefs are such a large part of culture and can vary greatly.
What makes it all come together?
After reviewing just a few of these complex factors, there is one simple thing that makes everything else kneel before it in awe. You guessed it, Love. True love is more than what is portrayed in fictional works. At their best, fictional works can glean a mere fleeting moment, leaving the years to come shrouded in a mystery. This is because those fleeting moments are almost always pure romanticism. Romanticism is ultimately, not love, but rather the idea of it. Love is going through those horrible, life altering low's with one another, coming out on the other side, and still believing from the bottom of your heart that you were somehow meant for each other and that you would still give your life for that person. Anyone can stick together through the high points. And why wouldn't you? But when love is tested, it withstands the test of fire. It causes you to see yourself in a different light. It compels you to fix your flawed attributes. But perhaps MOST importantly, it incites the ability to cover over all wrongdoings. Transcending the very lives that it elevates. To the humble one, love is indeed, real. So perhaps above all other things previously mentioned. Find a humble and loving person. If you return this quality, nothing can stop you except for yourselves.