It is very normal to have some anxieties before the big day. Getting married is a big decision and a major crossroads in your life. Many things can change with this decision, even in small ways. For most people, getting married isn’t just the same as continuing on living together. There are real and perceived changes that come with the status change, many of them quite positive, but there may be some that are not so much. So is it normal to wonder if this is the right thing? Yes! But, there are times when one’s hesitation should not be ignored. I’m often surprised to hear people admit that there were red flags from the beginning. They chose to disregard them, thinking that things would eventually work out or that their partner would change once they got married. This thinking has lead to a lot of heartache.
Watch for these red flags:
Abuse (emotional, verbal or physical) It is easy to identify physical abuse, but harder to identify other kinds sometimes. If you feel belittled, continually criticized, devalued, or routinely not listened to you need to have your abuse antennae up. Some people who have witnessed these kinds of relationships earlier in life have trouble recognizing the seriousness of these behaviours when they feel in love in their adult life.
A drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction. If you suspect it, it is likely happening. Get educated so you can notice the signs.
Persistent on going poor communication. If communication is a problem in the courtship stage, it will most likely be a bigger problem once you are married. Your partner doesn’t have to be an excellent communicator but she should be able to feel safe enough with you to discuss feelings and personal matters. You should be able to talk through disagreements and you should both feel that you can bring up difficult topics. Communication is a back and forth process. Good communication does not mean that one person does all the talking.
A level of conflict that makes you uncomfortable. I don’t mean physical conflict. If you often feel angry at your partner or feel that he is often angry at you or you find yourself trying hard not to make your partner angry, you need to honestly assess this. Walking on eggshells is no way to live. You need to be able to talk about your differences, not just shove them under the rug.
Trust issues that are unresolved. Many people seem to carry over their trust issues from other relationships. Yes, being hurt or cheated upon leaves a big scar, but realistically assess whether this is actually a problem in your current relationship. It isn’t fair to paint your current partner with the brush you used on your past partner.
High levels of possessiveness or jealousy. This ties into the one above. Possessiveness and jealousy are absolute kill joys in a relationship. To think that if you know your partners whereabouts and monitor all his contacts will give you a good relationship you are absolutely in for a big let down. If this relationship has potential, yet possessiveness plays a big part in it, get some help before you tie the knot.
Conflict with each others family. We’d all like to get along with our partner’s family and it is much easier if this happens. While conflict or differences are a concern, they are not deal killers. Try to determine where the problem stems from and how it is maintained. Some families are very difficult to break into. You need to discuss these difficulties and have an agreed upon plan of action before you cement your relationship.
Different values re. money, kids, religion, etc. This speaks for itself. Make sure you have discussed all these things. Some differences are manageable. Too many are a problem.
Problematic blended family issues.-his kid,your kid. I see many, many couples who thought they were prepared for a blended family but say that they never realized how hard it really was until they were in the middle of it all. Blending families will stretch you and challenge you and it is not for the faint of heart. I’ve seen many people make it work and have lovely families but please have your eyes wide open and get help if you need it.
Still wanting to hang on to “that single lifestyle”. Why are you thinking about marriage if you still want to be single?
Unresolved personal issues in one or both parties. All of us have some issues and some have more than others. You cannot expect perfection in your partner or in yourself. Being open with each other about your personal issues is important. However, if the issues seem particularly large, or an impediment to your happiness together, or you can’t talk about them, you may well have something to be more concerned about.
Do any of these red flags exist? What degree are they a problem for you? If you identify that several of these are present in your relationship then give serious thought to your decision to get married. Don’t be naive that these things will just get resolved with marriage or with time. Oftentimes, getting some outside objective perspective on these things can be time and money well spent before taking the big leap into marriage.