Considering marriage but not sure it’s the right move? In her book, I Love You. Now What? Mabel Iam offers an exercise that will help you decide.
When it comes time to making a decision as important as whether or not to get married, it may be helpful to make a list of all those things that we gain and lose in the exchange. The fundamental thing is to do this exercise openly and consciously with your partner, attempting to be as sincere as possible with one another, keeping in mind that this self-examination of the relationship could very well change it in every sense.
Step One: From the onset, we must avoid all comparisons with other couples and myths that we have regarding marriage.
Step Two: Once we have overcome myths and comparisons with other couples, especially when it comes to the relationship that we perceive our parents to have had, we can more clearly see the things that we tend to repeat in our own relationships and not commit the same mistakes. If you’ve already been through a similar situation and it went badly for you, you cannot draw conclusions from that experience. Focus on your present relationship and attempt to draw all the good from your partner. When making this type of a decision, it is easy to initiate a type of reasoning known as the negative anticipator model. This mechanism consists of imagining how your life would be with that person and the possible problems that could arise.
You cannot base yourself in phrases like, “What if this and this happens?” Those things that you’re thinking about have not happened, and you don’t even know if they will happen, so stop imagining and focus on the present.
Step Three: The two of you can ask questions regarding what you want your life project to be together. Make a list of your negative and positive feelings regarding marriage and then compare it with your partner’s list and discuss it. It’s possible that you will have many things in common.
Step Four: If the negative factors seem to outweigh the positive ones, you can do an exercise to help you understand why. Try to remember situations that both of you have faced and then resolved by passing through different stages of fear or loss of courage. By reflecting upon these experiences, you will reinforce the knowledge that love is capable of positively transforming any situation.
Trust in your capacity to triumph and openly confess to your partner all of your fantasies about marriage.
Step Five: Establish rules. It’s important that you consider certain factors that have to be shared: space, time, friends, money; how will you balance each of these factors? The more clearly you can discuss this beforehand, the more likely you’ll achieve happiness in the future.
After this exercise you will be able to comprehend and analyze what you both really desire and whether or not you are prepared for marriage.
MYTHS ABOUT MARRIAGE
- Married people have a less fulfilling sex life than single people. This is not true: every sexual relationship depends on the personal relationship of the individuals.
- Once you get married, you lose your freedom, friends, and so on. You can actually gain new friends through marriage, as well as enjoy new and different relationships with other couples or people who enter the couple’s life.
- Marriage is for the purpose of procreation. This is false. Many couples have children together without ever formalizing a marriage agreement. Conversely, many married couples remain childless.
- Marriage gives you emotional and economic security. This is only true in a healthy marriage. The high rate of divorce in today’s society shows that this is not true for all.
- Marriage benefits women more than men economically. Nowadays women have a very active role in society, and a wife may have a job that provides her with as much or even more money than her husband.
It is important to remember that not only in a marriage, but in a domestic partnership of any type, there is always a period of adaptation and readjustment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mabel Iam, author of I Love You. Now What?: Falling in Love is a Mystery, Keeping It Isn’t (Copyright © 2008 by Corpo Solar, Inc.), is a psychotherapist and relationship expert, as well as the author of several national and international award-winning bestsellers. She often appears on Telemundo and Univision and has a weekly radio show. Visit her website at www.mabeliam.com.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- Read Chapter 1 of I Love You. Now What?
- See the book’s Table of Contents
- Browse more books by Mabel Iam