RELATIONSHIPS: Are You Marriage Material? | Great Health Guide
RELATIONSHIPS: Are You Marriage Material?

RELATIONSHIPS: Are You Marriage Material?

‘Are You Marriage Material?’ by Dr Matthew Anderson published in Great Health Guide (Oct 2016). Over half of the individuals who choose to get married are not ready and possibly never will be. Are you thinking of marriage or already married but are not sure if this is the right step for you? Take the this marriage quiz to find out if you’re ready for this commitment.
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Relationships: Are You Marriage Material?

written by Dr Matthew Anderson

Warning! This is a tough talk article. If you are considering marriage or already married, you may be upset by what you read. You may discover that you are not ready for marriage or that you are currently incapable of creating a marriage that thrives. However, if you are not yet married and heed my advice you will save yourself a tremendous amount of suffering. If you are already in a marriage, you could benefit greatly if you apply even a small part of the crucial information below.

The Sad Truth

Over half of the individuals who choose to get married are not ready and possibly never will be.  Many of those who survive divorce and stay married exist in a perpetually stale, unfulfilling, relationship with little joy, no intimacy and no promise of growth. 

The current state of marriage is pretty dismal but the good news is that marriage is not to blame. The single cause of marriage failure is lack of relationship skills. If you lack the right skills then, for you, marriage will probably be hell.

My 45 years of work with couples (and singles) has made it clear that certain basic and essential ingredients must be present for a marriage to have a chance to survive and even more, for it to thrive. Sadly, most people spend more energy preparing for their driver’s license test than they do for their marriage license. The result? A very high rate of failure, disappointment, suffering and legal fees.

It is amazing that everyone knows that the divorce rate is about 50%, but almost no one imagines that it applies to them. It is also amazing, that few people know even one truly happy married couple, yet only a small percentage of couples attend any sort of marriage training or counseling even when faced with severe marital stress or the threat of divorce. 

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Why is this so? Simply put, the reasons are immaturity, ignorance, denial and arrogance. Couples think they are exceptions to the rule. They also are afraid they will discover that they are not even close to being ready for this thing they so much want to do. So they fill their minds with denial and arrogance and jump in head first. Too late, they realize the pool has no water and they crash. Only half survive and most of the other half do little more than exist. Only a very small percentage survives and thrives and only because they had the necessary skills. There is no luck to being successful at marriage. It is a matter of skill. If you and your partner lack these skills, then you are in for massive trouble.

So should you get married at all?

The following test is a set of direct questions that I have created from my work with hundreds of couples over the last 45 years. They cut to the heart of the issue. There is no fluff here. So read the list carefully and be brutally honest with yourself. If you answer NO to even two of the following questions, then you are not ready.  Don’t even try.  You do not have what it takes.  Don’t do it.  

1. Are you a grown-up?   Marriage requires two adults.  If either of you is not fully adult, you are not ready. If you have to ask what an adult is, then you are not one.

2. Are you truly in love with your partner? If you have even a moment’s doubt about this one, then your answer is NO. Marriage requires, needs, demands deep love (from both of you) to survive and thrive. If you are not both head over heels in love, then what the hell are you thinking?

3. Can you honestly admit when you are wrong? Everyone makes mistakes and being able and willing to admit it when you do, is the mark of a responsible adult whose ego is not as big as her or his love for one’s partner.

4. Can you consistently open your heart and love your partner? Marriage is essentially about love. Love requires an open heart. Can you keep your heart open to your partner each and every day, even when life gets stressful?

5. Can you honestly open your heart and allow love in? Marriage is essentially about love (see #4 above). Can you keep your heart open and allow your partner’s love to penetrate you and make a difference?

6. Do you see your partner as an equal? Marriage is also about intimacy, the emotional kind. If you see your partner as superior or inferior to you then you will have a great power imbalance and intimacy will be severely limited.

7. Can you say I love you out loud regularly and mean it? The man or woman who says they can show their love without verbalizing it, is both ignorant (about effective love relationships) and an anachronism. Loving verbal communication matters: daily.

8. Can you accept your partner exactly the way she/he is now and not try to change them? The fact is most people do not change. What you see is what you are going to get. A marriage that lasts is not a giant change project. It is a celebration of what is, not what you hope he or she will be.

9. Can you regularly listen to your partner with compassion and understanding? Listening, with open heart and mind, is a daily requirement in a healthy marriage. Some days it is a two-minute task and other days it is two hours. Both ways for both partners. No listening means no marriage. No question.

10. Can you be trusted? This question requires no explanation. If you don’t get it then answer No.

11. Can you be trusted to never verbally or physically abuse your partner? Most people understand that hurting or threatening to hurt your partner physically, ever, under any and all circumstances is totally unacceptable. Right? This is also true about emotional abuse, cursing and constantly criticizing or putting down your loved one. Right again?

12. Can you affirm your partner daily? Are you able and willing to name out loud, your partner’s positive characteristics daily? Couples that survive do this at least 3 to 5 times a day. Really happy couples do it 20 times a day.

13. Can you touch your partner daily with tenderness and love without it becoming sexual? Nonsexual tender, supportive and caring physical contact is a daily necessity for couples who want to survive. Sex will actually be much better if you have lots of regular loving touch that does not lead immediately to sex.

14. Can you make love sexually with an open heart? Making love requires an open, naked and vulnerable heart. Anything less is mutual masturbation and mutual masturbation, even when it is consensual, will not sustain a loving connection. And true making love in a loving intimate relationship is incredible. Why cheat yourselves?

15. Can you share your inner secrets with your partner regularly? Marriage should be a place for safety, deep trust and heart driven sharing by both partners. If inner secrets cannot be shared and held in acceptance, then you will begin to disconnect and your intimacy will suffer.

16. Can you accept and perform the daily responsibilities of marriage gladly and without whining or complaining? This means taking care of the dog, the garbage, the kids, the job, the car, the dishes, the bills and all of the other normal stuff that goes with living with someone you love. Grownups don’t bitch about any of it. They just do it and get on with their lives.

These 16 questions contain the essence of what every person needs if they are to be considered as marriage material. As I stated above, if you answer NO to even 2 of them, YOU ARE NOT READY TO BE MARRIED.

Am I being too tough here? I think not. Facing the truth now will save you great difficulty and may even cause you to make some meaningful changes. If you do answer NO to two or more and you actually want to become marriage material, then contact me. I can help.

Author of this article:
Reverend Matthew Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry specialising in counselling and has extensive training and experience in Gestalt and Jungian Psychology. He has helped many couples and singles successfully navigate relationship issues. He has a best-selling book, The Resurrection of Romance. Matthew may be contacted through his website.

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