By Dennis Prager
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
It is exceptionally difficult to find the right person to marry.
This is especially true for first marriages. That is why it is so important to think through your decision by asking and answering critical questions. In Part I, I offered five. Here are seven more:
6. What problems do the two of you now have? And what inner voice of doubt, if any, are you suppressing?
Here is a rule that is rarely broken: Whatever problems you have before the wedding day, you will have during your marriage. Do not think that marrying will solve any problem you have with the person. You therefore have three choices: Make peace with the problem, see if it can be solved before deciding to marry, or don't marry the person. It is imperative that you be ruthlessly honest with yourself. And that is very hard. Nothing in life is easier than denying problems when you are in love. That is why it is important to pay attention to inner doubts.
7. How often do you fight?
It may be normal for couples to fight (though the ratio of loving moments to fights must be high to sustain a loving relationship). But it is usually a bad sign if you are doing so with any frequency while dating. Presumably that should be the easiest time to get along -- no children together, no joint financial problems, and the excitement of a new person.
If you do fight, do you quickly make up? Does he/she fight fairly and hear your side? Has either of you said "I'm sorry" after a fight? And perhaps most important, do you fight over the same issue(s) with no resolution?
8. Do you share values?
Opposites attract in the very beginning. Likes stay together for the long term. The more you share, especially values, the better your chances of a good marriage. For example, if you think television watching is a form of self abuse and your prospective spouse loves watching for hours a day, you may have a big problem. Likewise if you have opposing political and social views to which you are passionately committed.
Love conquers all pre-maritally. Not post.
9. Do you miss the person when you are not together?
This even holds true for men. Yes, men are better at being distracted by work, sports, computer games, the opposite sex, and God knows what else, but it is not a good sign if you rarely miss her when not together. As for women, if you don't miss him, it is probably a really bad sign.
10. Is the person unhappy?
Having written a best-selling book on happiness and lectured on the subject on all seven continents, I am tempted write a book-length book explanation of just this question. Suffice it to say that the importance of marrying an essentially happy person cannot be exaggerated. If you are basically happy, do not think for a moment that you can make an unhappy person happy by marrying him or her. On the contrary, the ability of the unhappy to make the happy unhappy is far greater than the ability of the happy to make the unhappy happy.
11. How much of your love is dependent on the sex you are having?
The power of sex is so great that it often obscures problems of relating to one another. How much do you relate outside of bed? Do you love talking when you don't see, let alone touch, each other -- such as by phone or computer? The best way to ascertain the answer is to take a month off from all sexual contact and see how much you then enjoy each other.
12. What do people you respect think of the person you're considering marrying?
Young people are certain they know better than anyone else in the world what is good for them. So a lack of enthusiasm for the person you are considering for marriage on the part of family or friends may mean little or nothing. And sometimes family objections should mean little or nothing. But if objections come, let us say, from a parent you respect for reasons that are not easily dismissed, and if others you respect are unenthusiastic as well, you should take the objections seriously. You would do so regarding the purchase of a car, wouldn't you? Yet no car will affect your life nearly as much as your spouse.
Will honest answers to these 12 questions either help you marry well or avoid a marriage that can make your life miserable? There is an easy way to find out. Ask any married or divorced person who will open up to you whether these questions need to be answered. They are the experts. Not the never-married, like you, who usually know nothing about marriage.
Dennis Prager is a radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of 4 books including Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.