What are the signs that a marriage has what it takes to go the distance? And what are the warning signs that spell trouble?
Every relationship is different, and some signs of trouble may not be optimal from a therapist’s perspective but may truly work for a particular couple. For example, if one person is an admitted workaholic, but the other person genuinely enjoys time to themselves, the synergy may work well. Couples tend to choose one another for profound psychological reasons that often hold the potential to either bring them together or tear them apart. The clever trick is healthy communication especially in times of conflict. This ultimately comes down to an ability to be engaged and intimate with the other person, but still experience one’s self as a truly separate self. Such individuals are able compromise, admit their shortcomings, offer genuine apologies, and sincerely prioritize their partner’s needs and desires. They can therefore love their spouse for who they are rather than who they want them to be.
The biggest red flag heading into marriage occurs when one or both partners indulge the common fantasy that the act of marrying will fix a particular problem or disagreement. Since most couples tend to fight about the same things and face the same challenges throughout the arc of their relationship, it is optimal to head into marriage with an awareness of the relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. In the age of reality shows about over the top lifestyles and fairytale weddings, it is so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of wedding planning and imagine, for example, that a partner who says they do not want children will change their mind once they become domesticated. Another common fantasy is that a partner who drinks too much will change this behavior once they are settled. Such unrealistic fantasies ironically prevent couples for addressing difficult issues and thus become obstacles to intimacy and martial fulfillment.