M. D. Jackson has studied psychology since 1989. While her specialty is family relations, she also loves neuroscience and behaviorism.
What's Your Motivation to Marry?
Long before I ever started my psychology degree, I was a wedding/event planner. I have seen women of all ages take the trip down the aisle with various ideas of what their life will be like post-marriage. To avoid a huge mistake, I invite anybody who is thinking of getting married to read this article. Make sure you know your motivation for getting married before you walk down the aisle.
What's the Goal of Marriage?
According to Kenrick, Neuberg, & Cialdini (2010), our interactions with other people are goal oriented. That means that we are attracted to people based on what our belief is about how that person will affect our goal. It sounds harsh but, we interact with people all day based on how they will affect our current goals. It would make sense that we are attracted to people based on what we think they can contribute to our goal. Somewhere someone will say they married for love but, under that idea there may also be a goal. The goal may be; to not be alone, to be loved, or to have a family. We may love the person we are with however; they also help accomplish a goal.
This puts divorce into a whole other perspective. People tend to leave each other in the middle of a financial crisis; hence their goal of obtaining financial stability is no longer being sustained by the other person. Of course that is only the perspective; in reality a person’s ability to provide may only temporarily be hindered.
Now let’s put this in terms of "who" you are about to marry. Over the years I have seen countless brides rush down the aisle for the wedding. They do not really love anyone, they do not see the commitment, they want the big party were everyone brings gifts; they want to be told how beautiful they are, and how happy everyone is for them. This situation is doomed for divorce. Marriage is full of tests that you will endure and overcome. The least of these tests are infertility, financial loss, health issues, children (who are sometimes born disabled), addiction, infidelity, and in-laws. These are not situations to take lightly. When you see people who have been married for 20 to 70 years they have been through most, if not all of these things.
1. Is Marriage Your Life Goal?
Now look at your life. What is your goal? Is your goal to be loved by someone, anyone? When we are young we base how we feel about others by how they make us feel. This does not always last. Men settle into a relationship and they tend to take less time to tell you how they feel about you, they bring home flowers less, they basically do all the courtship activities less. Marrying because of how someone makes you feel during courtship is not a good idea.
Life is long and this type of “feeling” fades. You have to have your own sense of self going into a relationship. You have to know who you are and be OK with who you are. If you are not, you could be headed down the isle of co-dependency. This is the same truth for men and women. Men also get married because you are holding up their ego. Is that how you want to live?
If you have a life goal that involves your career, is this person going to support that goal? Are you already having problems with your soon to be spouse being supportive of your desire to live in a certain place, have a career, or have children? These are important life goals that should be supported by your life partner. Marrying someone who does not support your goal is like dragging an anchor to a swim meet. You will be fighting just to keep your head up. Do not marry someone who doesn't support the life you want. By support I mean encourage you and make concessions to support the goal.
Likewise, if you think you cannot support the goals of your soon to be spouse, you should be honest with him or her about your inability to be supportive. It is not fair to either of you to have someone who intentionally or unintentionally sabotages goals. In a marriage you work on things together.
What are you life goals for;
- Marriage. Your marriage should have goals as to what you want that relationship to be.
- Career. Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years?
- Family. Do you want kids? How many?
These are things you should discuss and agree upon before marriage.
2. Are You Marrying Just for the Wedding?
How do you know you are marrying for the wedding? This is an easy test; if you spend more time picking out your dress than you do talking to the person you are engaged to, it may be time to back out. The dress, the cake, and wedding are only a moment in your life. Believe me when I say that they will not mean much to you ten years from now. If you can, in your mind, see yourself marrying this person on the courthouse steps with no one else around, then you may be on the right track. If you can see the marriage without the big wedding, then save your money. Instead of buying a wedding, have a great honeymoon. It will mean more later. You can always get professional photos taken as a couple.
3. Are You Trying to Find Financial Stability Through Marriage?
Financial stability is a fallacy. It doesn’t matter what two people do for a living, there will come a time when they lose everything. It happens to almost everyone. Financial stability is never a reason to marry someone. In fact I would encourage all women to have their own degree in something, be educated, and be able to support themselves. The freedom to support ones self eliminates codependency and the ability of a spouse to walk over you when it comes to money (not that all spouses will do this). The worst marriages I've ever come across were created out of a monetary dependency.
4. Do You Simply Want a Family?
Think about the statement “I want a family”. One would think that wanting a family would indicate that any man/woman would suffice. I would caution any young woman/man that you do not just want a family; you want a “GOOD FAMILY”. What that means is that not just any man/woman will do. You need a man that wants to be a good father, a man with morals, and principles that can be passed on to your children (same is true for a wife). Choosing just any spouse that takes an interest to you, will lead to fights over the children, money, and even you.
Think this out. All these girls/woman who are having babies young think they are creating a family but, they are really creating a broken family (don’t make me reference "16 and pregnant" to prove a point). There is a difference. People who raise children will tell you it is not easy. You have to have the same basic morals as your spouse. Ask yourself what is this man/woman going to teach my children and does that align with what I believe and how I behave? If wanting a family is your goal, use caution!
Every good relationship, especially marriage, is based on respect. If it's not based on respect, nothing that appears to be good will last very long.
— Amy Grant
5. Do You Just Want to Be Married?
Many people get married out of fear of being alone. We all know the story about the cat lady. I know a woman who was widowed in her forties; she spent her life traveling and meeting people. She never remarried. She was a great person and never owned a cat. We define our lives by what we want. Just because someone is single does not mean that they are lonely or sad. Life is to be lived regardless of if you are single or married.
Being married is work. Marriage requires communication, cooperation, problem solving skills, understanding, and love. That sounds easy right, well its not. At times it can be downright frustrating. Being married comes with its own set of problems. People who go into marriage believing it will solve their problems will be disappointed. Marriage takes a lot of time to perfect. Once you get to that point it can be the greatest thing ever, getting to that point is not so easy. Just like a job, marriage is a learning process and work.
6. Are You Trying to Cover Up a Pregnancy or Something Else?
Here comes some blatant honesty; because people are raised with certain religious ideas they tend to get married to cover or to justify behaviors that were unacceptable by the standards in which they were raised. In other words; sex or even pregnancy. In the mind of a girl if she marries the boy she committed “sins” with, they were meant to be, and it erases the sin. If you believe that sex before marriage is a sin then nothing ever erases that for you. However, you can avoid a lifetime of hell by not then marrying someone who does not respect you. (Did you flinch?)
I said it “men/women who compromise your standards do not respect you”. This is reality. Furthermore if you believe that sex before marriage is a sin and you do it anyway, you don’t respect yourself. That is correct; you do not respect yourself. Think about it, you compromised what you believe for some guy/girl. Does that sound like someone who is stable and ready for marriage? I know it’s harsh but, it’s absolutely true. What it means is you are about to marry someone who cares very little about how you feel or your standards.
All that said, this does not apply to people who do not share any type of paradigm in which premarital sex is a sin. It’s never a good idea to have premarital sex but, if you do not feel it is a moral issue then by your standard no one has compromised your beliefs or been disrespectful. Every person should own their mistakes.If you let this happen, own it. Do not make a greater mistake to try to cover the previous mistake. I can tell you it is better to live and learn than it is to let the mistake take over your life.
7. Are You Marrying Your Cheating Partner?
Here is an interesting idea, a person uses you to cheat on a spouse, and then you marry them. Good idea or bad idea? People who cheat are what the psychology refers to as passive aggressive. What that means is that the person may be mad at their spouse but, instead of having an adult conversation, they cheat. Cheating is not always the result of bad relationships. Cheating can come from a person’s inability to handle a life crisis. If you are the other person… WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???
I have seen countless women cheat with a married man because they see the other women’s life and they want it. One person can NEVER get the complete picture of another person’s life from the outside. It may look like a man is a loving father and husband. If that is true then why is he/she cheating? In reality people have weaknesses. They act on those in moments when they should walk away. You will never know who someone is until it’s too late.
If a person cheats it is an indication they have some growing up to do. If you marry that person you are going to be in for a rude awakening when they use you as part of their growing experience. Countless affairs turned marriage end the same way they started, with infidelity. Respect and trust are not a factor in a relationship that started with secrets and broken trust. If someone wants a relationship with you, make them end their current relationship before you consider dating them. You deserve better.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Happily Ever After
After all this, you may feel that there is never a good goal for a marriage or that there is never a good relationship. I can tell you that is not true. People mature at different ages. There are people who married young and have had wonderful lives together. You have to expect there to be some tough times in a relationship. Do not marry thinking that wedding party continues. Get married loving that person, accepting them for who they are, accepting that you have a goal together, and you are both committed to each other and the goal. Most importantly, be on each others side.
Pod cast about this article:
Reasons for Marrying Poll
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 MD Jackson MSIOP
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on September 06, 2011:
Anyone contemplating marriage should read this hub. Your insight is staggering and I agree with all of it. I marry to enrich my life (not moneywise,however)to love,
and to have intimacy with that person (not just sexual intimacy). There can be no ultimatiums given or received. I will not remarry until I find these in one man. My one and only marriage ended for various reasons: interfering in-laws, immaturity, abuse, and to my dismay, none of my above criteria. (I was hoodwinked) Getting out of that marriage was the best decision I ever made. I am in no rush to marry again, until I can find my criteria in a man.
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 30, 2011:
Valid point Mary!
Mary on August 30, 2011:
I've been married 28 years and wouldn't change a thing! We have survived illness, employment loss, financial bankruptcy, children and still going. I believe the biggest truth in your article is you must know who you are before inviting someone to share your life and you must accept them as they are. You will never change what you date over time. If two people are not comfortable with themselves they can never be comfortable with another.
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 30, 2011:
You are welcome. Congratulations!!!!
Aravind Balasubramanya from Puttaparthi, India on August 30, 2011:
Am getting married soon....And when I started reading your article, I wondered why I was marrying my girl. The answer was, "I want to be with her!" And the next reason was, "We both have the same top priorities in life - we will synergise."
Was I happy to read your conclusion!
A nice, frank and brutal article....Thanks for it
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 27, 2011:
If you would still marry that person without the big wedding then go for it! The point is that you don't want to marry someone just to have a wedding. If you are sure about your decision and you can afford it, by all means have a grand occasion and make a memory! Love is real. Maybe I should write that hub. :)
iloveglee83 from Noblesville, IN on August 27, 2011:
I loved your artical, and it is really well writen, but I do have a question, you stated that if both parties could see themselves getting married in a court house etc etc then they are probably getting married for the right reasons, now what if they could see themselves doing that but they still wanted a wedding? does that then throw them back into the getting married for wrong reasons group?
hummingbird211 from Delhi,India on August 27, 2011:
This article is honest and extremely useful. Thanks for posting this hub.
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 26, 2011:
It doesn't matter who brings home the money as long as both parties are comfortable with that arrangement (most men are not). I have seen countless relationships crash and burn because the man does not make the money in the family. This is a societal pressure issue, not my rules. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was against women working since it doesn't state that (Just so you know I have worked almost my entire adult life). The point of the hub is that if you know why you are in a relationship and IF it is not healthy then you should reconsider marrying that person. I actually have marriage counseling experience. I helped a lot of people overcome the issues between them including this one. The hub was written for the many young girls I see making huge mistakes for ridiculous reasons. My comments are not opinions and if you isolated the husbands of these women who are the primary bread winners, you would find out that many of them are not happy. What we see of people from the outside is not always reality as a psychology student you should know that. Men have a need to be productive and when they do not feel they are productive or they feel they are not needed, they are in fact; unhappy. Now there are circumstances of life that require women to be the bread winners (injuries or medical issues) however, most men (not all) feel the need to be income contributes. When you ask a man that question in today's world they are bound by feminist ideas to say "sure it would be fine if she made more money" Yet if you do a blind survey (which I have) you will find that men are not ok, with women being the primary bead winner and they resent it. If you look at it from a historical perspective men were the hunters/gathers, and they provide for the family. Men still think this way, Sorry. It belittles a man to have him stay home while you are out earning the money.This has been a huge issue in counseling sessions for the last ten years or more. Unfortunately most women learn the hard way that their man wants to be the provider. The declarations I have made can be supported by the divorce rate. You could also check out this article on the impact of gender stratification. Just because the social situation has changed doesn't mean men are ok with it.
By the way I also think if it were not for irrational behavior and unavoidable attraction... many of us would not be here ;)
soniafernandez from Bangalore on August 26, 2011:
I too am a student of psychology. I am amazed that you can be so opinionated about something as complex as a marriage. Your hub certainly had some good pointers, but some of the statements are just more personal opinion than anything else. There are plenty of couples out there today where women earn as good as men or are the sole bread winners, to call those marriages, less than fine is quite pathetic. I personally know quite a few friends who are this way due to various circumstances. Perhaps, you should research some more before making declarations such as these.
Sonia on August 26, 2011:
Psychology is certainly helpful, but it would be a fallacy to try to base everything on theory from the books. Marriage and divorce are two sides of the same coin, just like love and indifference. Nobody gets married knowing all the answers or all the reasons, like anything in life, it needs work, some people grow up and learn to deal, others chicken out!
Brandy M. Miller from Elko, Nevada on August 26, 2011:
To any Christians who are reading this, remember that your ultimate goal in life should be to reach heaven. Make sure the spouse you choose not only shares that goal with you but is committed to helping you achieve yours!
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 15, 2011:
Reynold, thank you. I appreciate the comment.
Augustus, I will read your hub and comment. This was more for people who are considering marriage. I think your fathers comment was about how men have a need to be the primary bread winner in the home. It is emasculating to a man to have a woman make the money in the relationship (men who say it is ok are lying.
I will check out the hub. Have a great day!
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on July 15, 2011:
Yep--important on a grand scale and lots of goods points broght up in this excellent article. Welcome to HUB writing. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. I must give this an “Up ONE and Useful.” I'm now your fan! RJ
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MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 15, 2011:
You are welcome, thank you for reading it. Getting married is such an important decision. I think if more people knew themselves a lot of people would avoid bad marriages. I have made several of these mistakes and I am aware of the consequences. If it helps anyone make a good decision then it was worth writing. Have a great day!
Keeley Shea from Norwich, CT on July 15, 2011:
I think this article was extremely well written. Anyone thinking about marriage should read this. I am divorced and realized later on that I married a man because of many of these reasons and he did the same - not just to be together with a common goal to work towards. I now have a loving boyfriend and we are together because we value each other and enjoy each other's company. Thanks for writing it!