Choosing a person to spend your life with is a serious decision, and the implications of choosing the wrong person can impact many people—you, your partner and any children involved, as well as both extended families. With the estimated divorce rate in the United States continuing to hover around 50% for all first-time marriages, having the tools for selecting better marriage choices is even more important to long-term happiness and relationship success.
Here are the seven time-tested fatal flaws of faulty mate selection to keep in mind while you search for that one special person:
1. Too Fast! Slow Down!
Marriage should be a serious decision that takes many aspects into consideration. In fact, some experts recommend that a couple dates for at least two years to make sure that they are making the correct choice. Two years may seem like a long time, but sometimes romantic feelings can cloud personal judgment, blinding you to admitting any incompatibilities that you may see but choose not to. Not only that, but not all incompatibilities are revealed in the first year. By the second year, however, any serious incongruities will emerge.
2. Too Young
The divorce rate for those 20 years old or younger is a whopping 85%—that means only 15% of all marriages between couples who are 20 years old or younger will survive. One key reason why these marriages dissolve is that a strong concept of self-identity needs to develop in someone before being matched well with someone with whom they can spend the rest of their lives.
3. Too Eager
When a person’s self-identity is not yet as developed as it could be, he or she may believe that marriage will make them whole and emotionally secure. Once married, however, they may find that their personal problems are still there, leading to disillusionment and sadness. In some extreme cases, someone in this situation may even project anger and resentment onto their spouse because their spouse hasn’t made them whole. Other times, a person’s concept of self-identity has been through substantial changes from the ending of a relationship or a series of relationships. Divorcees and those who have recently lost a partner are especially vulnerable to being over-eager to get married because they can feel so emotionally bad about themselves, and in general, that they feel the pain they are experiencing will magically go away once married. This notion is the farthest from the truth. Taking self-improvement steps to rebuild emotional health is necessary before partnering with another.
4. Too Little Time Spent Together
Getting to know your potential partner in as many different social environments and situations as possible before marriage is one key to future marital success. You’ll be able to see how your partner reacts to situations that may not come up in everyday life, and more importantly, how you face those situations together.
5. Marrying to Please Someone Else
Marrying someone to please your mother, father—or even your partner—is usually a sure-fire recipe for marital disaster. If you’re not ready for the level of commitment marriage requires, give yourself more time. Entering into a marriage prematurely can result in both partners having different levels of passion for the marriage itself. In a healthy relationship, however, that level of passion is similar; both people should be excited and enthusiastic about taking the big step.
6. Underestimating a Problem
Hopes, good intentions and promises are most likely not going to solve major personality or character flaws in a person’s behavior, and neither will marriage. Though these negative traits, such as alcohol, food issues, depression or anxiety may not be consistently present, they will come up over and over again in your relationship. You have to ask yourself honestly whether you are willing to tolerate these problems throughout the rest of your life. Additionally, if children are part of the picture, you must consider the impact this problem will have on them as well. While there may be a few character traits and qualities you recognize are compatible with you that you seek in people, the sum total of all traits and qualities is what’s important. You should never have to settle for the best person available to you right now because he or she seems to be the only person around right now. If you know in your heart that someone is incompatible with you, do yourself a favor and end the relationship. There are other people who will come into your life if you’re proactively looking for them.
7. False Expectations
Being able to spend your life with someone in good times and bad is a very appealing prospect. However, false expectations about what a marriage is supposed to be like lead to 20% of all first marriages ending by the fifth year. It’s important to remember that all marriages—even the healthiest ones—have their own unique challenges. Be realistic and acknowledge that there will be some difficulties that will come up. Additionally, it’s important to manage your own expectations as well as your assumptions about your partner’s expectations—don’t always assume that your partner has the same expectations that you do. If in doubt, ask! Good communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship.