Many if not most dating couples seem to believe that getting married is the natural course of life. You grow up, graduate high school, go to college or get a job, meet and fall in love with Mr. or Ms. Right, get engaged, get married, start a family. Just like that, botta bing botta boom. Even if only one partner wants to get married, the pressure is on to get married anyway and start having babies because well, it just seems to be the natural next step in life. Right?
One of the most alarming questions I have ever received was from a young woman in her mid-twenties asking me to give her advice on how to make her boyfriend propose and marry her, because “he won’t commit”. After I declined to give her a list of things she could do to get a proposal from her boyfriend, she decided the best thing for her to do was to get pregnant on purpose and then propose to her boyfriend.
There are sites on the web that tell women of all ages a whole variety of underhanded ways to get their boyfriend to propose marriage, even when the poor guy has clearly stated his reasons for not wanting to get married quite yet or ever. Some girls want to get married for very strange and immature reasons (the wrong reasons), and will go to great lengths to figure out how to get him to propose anyway.
My advice is for the men who don’t want or plan to get married anytime soon, but their girlfriend is pressuring them into getting married. Don’t have sex, use protection or, better yet, Run! Feeling trapped into marriage is not a place you guys want to be, so if you’re dating a girl and feel you’re too young to get married or you’re not using condoms to protect against pregnancy, you’re setting yourself up for heartache.
Should You Get Married?
Before you marry, or before you even consider the idea of proposing marriage to your girlfriend or boyfriend regardless of age and level of maturity, the most important question dating or engaged couples should ask themselves is, Why get married or, Why should we get married? Are you ready for marriage at this stage in your life? Are you planning a marriage or just a wedding? Are you too young to get married? Do you know the reasons why you should or shouldn’t get married? Do you know the right and wrong reasons to get married? How do you know for sure that he or she is “the one” you want to spend the rest of your life being married to?
Any married person, including parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers and family that tells you that being married doesn’t change anything is absolutely out of their mind. Marriage changes a lot. There is a reason why wedding ceremonies include the words “for better or worse” right before the marrying couple share their momentous kiss, thus sending the happy newly married couple into what is supposed to be wedded bliss to “live happily ever after”.
Marriage Preparation Courses
If you decide you are ready and willing to get married to your significant other, one of the most important things both of you should do together during the wedding planning activities is premarital counseling. If you are planning to be married by a minister or clergyman, or you are planning to have your wedding in a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, the questions premarital counselors ask engaged couples will help ensure a successful marriage that lasts a lifetime. Or, you may be helped to realize you are planning to marry the wrong person and need to break off the engagement, cancel the wedding and/or run for your life.
Premarital counseling by an officiating minister, or marriage preparation courses for Christian couples (Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Protestant, Non-Denominational etc) who are planning a wedding in the near future should put pre-marriage counseling at the top of your To-Do list.
There are hundreds of verrry personal questions couples who are seriously dating or are already engaged need to ask themselves and each other before the wedding day arrives, not just 10 or 20 questions. Marriage is a serious commitment, so it is vitally important that you take your time thinking about and answering the counselors questions about marriage and your relationship.
Be sure to take the Myers Briggs Personality Test, commonly referred to as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which tests 16 different personality types for compatibility in marriage and family relationships. If your minister or counselor doesn’t suggest the Myers-Briggs test, be sure to ask that arrangements be made where both of you are given the quiz at the beginning of your counseling sessions. The Myers/Briggs test results can be a real eye-opener, helping couples learn things about their husband or wife-to-be that may surprise/shock you.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of books, premarital workbooks and workshops couples can do together, along with completing questionnaires and quizzes that help determine your readiness for marriage. Pre-marriage books are especially helpful if you’re not having a minister officiate your wedding, but are planning to get married by a judge or justice of the peace.
In order to make sure couples don’t regret getting married after the engagement parties, wedding and reception are all over with, dating and engaged couples must understand that getting married for the wrong reasons can quickly lead to an unhappy marriage full of resentment, disappointment and ultimately divorce. Couples who do not prepare for marriage properly, or are simply too young and immature to get married, often learn the hard way that getting married, being married and being happily married for a lifetime are entirely different from what they imagined marriage to be like.
Books on Marriage
You can find many before marriage questions in the book 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married by Monica Leahy. Other books with similar questions to consider are The Hard Questions:100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do” by Susan Piver and 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by Norm H. Wright.
Three more books to consider are There Goes the Bride: Making Up Your Mind, Calling it Off and Moving On by Rachel Safier, A Handbook for Engaged Couples by Alice and Robert Fryling, as well as the essential Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan.