Choosing the Right Person is the Key to a Successful Marriage
All marriages have their challenges, and the strongest of marriages have weathered storms that could have torn them apart. While love, dedication, and hard work are essential to building a successful marriage, you must first have a strong foundation.
Choosing the right person is a crucial first step in building a strong marriage that will withstand the test of time. Men and women are very different. Those differences exist so that each of you will balance the other out, but if you are unprepared to embrace those differences, it can strain even a healthy relationship.
The Differences Between Men and Women
Men and women view the world through a different set of lenses. They think differently. They hurt differently, and they love differently. Marriage is a lifetime commitment to someone that is profoundly different from you, and those differences will challenge you in ways you cannot imagine if you are unmarried.
In the “getting to know you” stage of a relationship, it is essential to learn and understand each other’s values and upbringing. Knowing these things will help you develop an insight into why they do the things they do and help lay a foundation of mutual trust and respect as you both learn to respect the differences in your life experiences.
Differences in the two genders are hard-wired into our brains as basic human instincts. Respecting those differences is perhaps the most crucial key in having a loving, harmonious, and lasting marriage. Some fundamental ways that men and women are different:
Women think by talking through things with others. Men, though they occasionally seek counsel, think best alone.
Women excel at multitasking, while men do better when focusing on one thing at a time.
Women tend to focus on the past, where men are oriented to always looking at the present and the future.
Men look at the “big picture,” whether it is a problem or a project. Women are detail-oriented.
Men are more likely to ignore their emotions and keep moving forward. Women can have sensitive feeling s that are hard for them to ignore. They need time to process things before moving on.
Men want to solve the problem while women want to fix the relationship.
Men need to feel valued and respected, while women want to feel cherished.
For a woman, sex is a combination of feelings and closeness that result in making love. Men desire physical sex and then feel close and loving toward their wives.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the differences between men and women, but you can see how failing to recognize these differences can lead to relationship difficulties in marriage. Compromise is the fundamental key to any healthy relationship, and marriage is no exception. Both parties have to learn to meet the other’s needs, but that can seem impossible if you don’t take the time to learn what those needs are.
When talking to men and women who are miserable in their relationships, I have noticed a few things that seem common in most unhappy relationships. The list is not comprehensive, and it is possible to find couples who are profoundly dissatisfied in their relationship despite having none of the characteristics on the list. That said, if you are considering marriage, avoiding these things gives you a better chance at starting with a strong foundation upon which to build your life together.
1. Avoid Rushing Into Marriage —
There are numerous reasons why people often rush into marriage. To further complicate things, rushing can be defined differently depending on the circumstances. If you are dating someone across the country and see each other a few times a year, you might be rushing if you are considering marriage after only a year. For two people who have known each other for years and recently entered a relationship where you can spend ample time together, a few months might be long enough to know if this person is the partner you want for life.
It takes time and effort to get to know another person deeply and meaningfully. In the early stages of a romantic relationship, feelings and emotions are front and center. It is easy to overlook traits and characteristics that do not pose a problem in the romantic “falling in love” stage. Both partners are on their best behavior, and it is easy to hide or disguise things that you do not want your partner to see.
2. Identify Red Flags Before You Enter a Relationship —
Some red flags are universal, while others will be highly individualized based on your belief system, background, and desires. Some of the most crucial things to be alert for include:
Is the person you are involved with truthful?
Truthfulness is an essential building block of every relationship. In the early stages of a relationship, when emotions are heightened, it can be easy to overlook warning signs that the person you are with is not completely honest. For a marriage to last, the foundation must be firmly built on trust, and it is impossible to have real trust without honesty.
How does your partner behave when angry or disappointed?
We all experience anger and disappointment in life, and building a marriage and family will not happen without plenty of anger and frustration along the way. Does your partner talk about how they feel and strive to resolve issues productively, or do they become petulant and sulky?
Do not delude yourself into thinking that their behavior when they are angry is a one-off that is unlikely to repeat itself. Instead, you should assume it is a long-established pattern of behavior. If your partner becomes emotionally, physically, or verbally abusive when they are angry, please know there is no greater red flag.
No one enters a relationship thinking they will accept being abused. Instead, it happens in the heat of the moment, and then the abuser is remorseful and genuinely sorry. The partner accepts the apology and perhaps even believes that it was partially their fault as well. Things are great again — for a time. Inevitably, the cycle repeats itself again and again. Other warning signs of a potentially abusive partner include:
Your partner is controlling, possessive, or overprotective?
If your partner wants to know where you are at all times, feels they should have the final say in what should be joint decisions, checks upon you, or otherwise behaves in a controlling manner, get away as fast as possible. It can be tempting to take this behavior as a sign of how deeply they love you. Do not fall into this trap because the need to control or possess is not love.
Does your partner take no responsibility for the demise of their previous relationship?
be careful, especially if they describe all previous partners as “crazy,” “demanding,” “liars,” or other derogatory terms. They are not only refusing to take responsibility for their part in the demise of the relationship but telling you plenty about themselves.
Do they have no social life or support system outside your relationship?
While it sounds romantic to be the center of someone’s world, in reality, you want a partner who has a rich array of healthy relationships that include friends, family members, co-workers, and mentors that are meaningful to them.
Do they often explode in anger, and you feel as though you are walking on eggshells?
If your partner is explosive, impulsive, or intimidating when they are angry, these are definite warning signs of the potential for domestic abuse.
Does your partner attempts to alienate you from friends, family, and other meaningful relationships?
Abusers are insecure, and it is that insecurity that drives them to attempt to isolate their partners. Again, this may not feel like abuse. Instead, it can feel just the opposite as it can seem quite flattering to have someone “love” you so much that they dominate your time and want you by their side all the time. You may even feel that your family or friends are unreasonable because they “don’t understand” your partner.
If you are in an abusive relationship, do not let fear or shame keep you from seeking help. You can call 9–1–1 in an emergency or call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1–800–799–7233 for advice and help in safely leaving an abusive relationship.
3.Did they have a good upbringing?
Families are as unique as our fingerprints, and no two are the same. The environment a person grew up in will strongly influence the person they later become, so understanding your partner’s background is crucial to know your partner genuinely.
We are not destined to be the people our parents are, but we cannot deny the influence that upbringing has on a person. Look at the interactions amongst family members. Do they joke around and seem to enjoy each other’s company? If not, what is the source of the tension?
Does the family, as a whole, have good manners, or are they rude? Do they look down on others, and are they judgmental? Do they frequently argue over minor things? If there is serious dysfunction in the family, does your partner realize it, and have they taken steps to overcome it in their own lives? If the past is not addressed, it has the power to haunt the future.
Get to know their parents and spend time around your partner and their family. By doing so, you will learn about their upbringing and the type of dynamics in their family. No one gets to choose who their parents are, and sadly, some parent-child relationships are highly dysfunctional.
As Christians, we are commanded to respect our fathers and mothers, so when your partner has a bad relationship or no relationship with their parents, you need to make sure you understand how the situation developed and what led them to that decision.
How someone treats people they do not know or people they do not like or agree with is a measure of their character. Do they call or visit their parents? If not, why? Do they express genuine care and concern for their family?
4. Does your potential partner have a sense of humor?
This world is broken, and it can be hard to navigate with grace. Doing so requires a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at oneself. Having a healthy sense of humor reduces stress, helps you cope with pain, creates empathy in shared social situations, and is a healthy cure for anxiety. Be careful in proceeding in a relationship with someone that is always angry or depressed. Your shared life together will be so much easier and happier if you can laugh at yourself, and even each other, when appropriate.
That said, make sure that meanness is not disguised as a “sense of humor.” Genuine humor is not at someone else’s expense. If your partner belittles or embarrasses you in front of others or does those things to others, it is a red flag. Confident people can find plenty of humor in this crazy world we live in without needing to betray or hurt others for the sake of a laugh.
5. Do you share values and interests?
While there is truth to the saying that “opposites attract,” you need to have some shared core values to build a healthy life-long relationship. Some of the big things that result in unhappy and disastrous marriages include:
We often judge people by how they spend their time, but similar interests are not the same as similar values. You can have wildly different interests and still build a strong and healthy relationship. Having different values, however, is much more challenging to overcome. Core values are an integral part of what makes each person unique. Though values can change over time, they are usually established in childhood, and you should never proceed in a relationship hoping you can change someone else’s values.
6. Are they attractive to you?
You may have found the person physically appealing, but real attraction is much more profound. Do you feel drawn to this person? Is there something about their personality, spirit, or mannerisms that make your heart melt? If your only attraction is their physical appearance, move on before both of you are invested in a relationship without a future.
Choosing the right person is the first and arguably the most essential step in building a marriage that will last a lifetime. Do not assume that because you love someone, it will be enough to overcome differences and problems down the road. Marriage doesn’t solve problems, and it magnifies them. It is crucial to honestly know the person you are considering tying your life to and love them wholly without the expectation of change. That said, you also have to accept that time and life experiences do bring about change. You have to be willing to allow your partner the freedom to grow and change throughout your relationship, and you have the right to expect the same grace for yourself.