Did you know 94% of singles say they want to marry their soul mate?  Not surprising right?  And even less surprising is the majority of them don’t feel like they know how to find one.

There is something I often hear from my psychology students… (yes, in addition to farming, running a wedding venue in the High Desert, and doing pre and post marital counseling, I also teach psychology at Victor Valley College).  I hear it every time I teach about marriage: I’m afraid to get married.

We have a phobia in our society today about marriage and I think it’s because most of us are never taught how to pick the right man or woman.  Most of the visitors to this page feel confident that they have picked the right partner for life, as a matter of fact premarital counseling that focuses on whether or not you are marrying the right person has been found to be completely ineffectual!  However, I think even a happily engaged couple can and should learn what it takes to pick the right person and with that awareness, they can shore up any weaknesses in their relationship to make sure they live happily ever after.

Minimizing problems

So many of us fall in love and want to be happy.  I say we want to be happy because even when we see problems, we often ignore them, minimize them or just plain don’t recognize them for what they are.  It’s easy to end up feeling betrayed later down the road by a spouse who appears to have “changed.”

People don’t really change, in my humble opinion.  Now don’t get me wrong.  People improve.  People can learn manners, communication skills, even get a better attitude in life.  But they don’t change who they are as people minus some enormous life changing event, which fortunately and unfortunately doesn’t happen to everyone.

This is good news and bad news.  The bad news is if you pick the wrong person, you will be with them for the rest of your married life.  The good news is, this means you can see who a person really is even while you’re dating.  This is REALLY good news.  Well, it’s good news

You lack knowledge

Most research shows that to know what someone will be like after marriage, you need to look at five core areas

  1. Compatibility potential—How well do you fit together?  How many interests and values do you share?  What are the similarities and differences in your personality?  Research shows that being similar is much better than being different when it comes to a happy, healthy marriage.
  2. Relationship skills—Do you know how to communicate?  Can you argue effectively?  Are you able to be vulnerable and open even when it hurts?  Can you manage conflict and actually resolve it?
  3. Patterns from other relationships—What is the your partner like with other people?  How do they treat their mom?  Their siblings?  The guy that delivers water at work?  The Starbucks barista who mades his unicorn frappuccino wrong?
  4. Family patterns and background—How well does your partner’s family get along?  Do you like their level of emotional expression?  The way they interact?  The way they raise children?
  5. Character and conscience traits—What is your partner’s emotional health?  How mature is their conscience, morality and ethics?

This is obvious…well some of it is

We all know we should be compatible, we all know to pay attention to the relationship skills, but the last three levels are often overlooked.  When’s the last time you considered your partner’s morality and how that would effect your marriage?  Have you spent much time with his or her family?  Have you ignored how angry she got about her unicorn frappuccino because afterall, you don’t work at starbucks so it doesn’t mean anything about how you’ll be treated….or does it?

I see problems here…should I call the wedding off?

Ok, I’m sure none of you are actually asking this lol.  But who knows, maybe you are.  If you are unsure about a relationship, I always tell people just test it out.  Observe more.  Play relationship detective.  Find the problems, acknowledge them and then deal with them.

If you are happily engaged and see problems, it’s not the end of the world.  Instead it’s the beginning of a smart marriage.  When you ignore problems, they can fester and grow.  If you go into a marriage recognizing that your soon to be husband’s dad shuts down when he’s emotionally overwhelmed, be aware that your husband probably will too.  Now you know it’s not because he doesn’t love you, it’s simply because it’s a habit he learned in his family.  If your soon to be wife’s father showers her mom with affection, don’t be surprised when she gets grumpy when you get busy.

Recognizing problems or potential problems doesn’t necessarily weaken a relationship.  Instead it gives you the opportunity to build a stronger, stabler and happier marriage.