Sarah and I dated for more than six years. During that time, we had our ups and downs as any couple does, but we knew, especially near the end, that we were heading for marriage. We were engaged for the last year of that period.
One of the things that we did is receive some pre-marriage counseling from the pastor who officiated our wedding ceremony. We spent several sessions with him talking about common marital issues and, perhaps more importantly, whether we were really ready to be married or not.
Those sessions provoked me to spend a great deal of time thinking about Sarah and our relationship. Was I really ready to do this? Was Sarah someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with?
Those questions were a big part of my thinking in 2002 and 2003. As I worked through everything, I came to the conclusion that, regardless of the concerns I had, I would still far rather have Sarah as a central part of my life for the rest of my years than anything else.
The time spent thinking about those issues ended up being invaluable in our marriage. I committed to accepting the things about Sarah that were different or challenging for me to handle while also cherishing the many things about her that I adore.
It’s something I’m still committed to ten years later.
Marriage is an intense commitment, and if you commit to it without being fully sure of what you’re doing and without your full heart invested in it, you’re opening the door to failure. Marriage failure costs you, not just in terms of the financial costs, but the personal and emotional and social costs, too.
If you are feeling strong doubts, address those doubts. Don’t hide from them and bury them. Bring them out into the open and strongly consider them. Is this a life that you want over the long term?
If you’re unsure, don’t get married.
If you feel like you’re only getting married because you don’t want to hurt the other person, don’t get married.
If you have huge reservations about the other person’s personality – not small ones, but really big ones – don’t get married.
Save marriage for situations where you’re sure you can commit to that other person for the rest of your life. If there are issues where you’re sure that you cannot, don’t jump in and don’t drag that other person into it with you. You’ll be happier living alone than living together in misery.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.