Love That Lasts
Eleven Questions to Ask Before Marriage ©
Donald A. Cadogan, Ph.D.
This article contains information and excerpts from the book "Find Love That Lasts."
It is impossible to reduce the complexities of marital relations to a few simple statements. That said, I do believe the quest for connubial bliss requires two basic, seemingly simplistic, but profoundly important elements. In order to enjoy a long and satisfying marriage your first task is to find the right partner. Your second task is to be the right partner. It seems like common sense, but stay with me.
This article focuses on the first of the rudiments for success – finding the right partner.
I believe most people would
agree a happy marriage is one of life’s great treasures. Unfortunately, the odds of making a good
marital union are not in our favor. We
have a divorce rate in the
This is not to say that we must come from happy, intact families in order to have a contented life, but our chances are greater. In addition, it is not my intention to malign one-parent households. While it is true that role modeling by both parents at home is important, many people raised in single parent homes, provided they were loved and nurtured, greatly benefit from the experience. Nevertheless, the lack of a partner clearly imposes additional child-rearing burdens. It is also true, however, the partners in some two-parent households are so hostile to each other that divorce is often best for everyone, especially the children. There is no doubt that a good number of children from many homes are psychologically damaged by destructive experiences resulting from frequent angry interactions with parents that are dissatisfied, frustrated, and unhappy in their marriages. Thus, poor marital choices diminish our children’s lives as well as our own.
Fortunately, modern marital therapy methods have made important inroads into this problem. Nevertheless, even the best techniques when used by the most skillful therapists cannot help make a marriage satisfactory when the marital affiliation is a bad fit to begin with. Tragically, a great number of marriages are inherently disharmonious.
It appears that numerous couples form these unsuitable unions because they do not know what to look for in a mate; others settle for partners they know are incompatible, but hope that after they marry, somehow, their mates will change, and their relationships will get better. Unfortunately, they seldom do. If they manage to avoid divorce, their marriages frequently settle into angry, cheerless, or deenergised forms of coexistence.
Nevertheless, you can prevent this difficulty. As I stated in the introduction, the first task in making a happy marriage is choosing the right partner, and one way to ensure this selection is to become aware of the factors that make a person suitable. It is important to know, however, the best time to consider these questions is well before marriage. This is because once you meet someone and “fall in love” it becomes difficult to assess the strength and weaknesses of your relationship. Nevertheless, I expect many who read these words will already be in committed relationships. If you are seriously dating or even married, you will still benefit from an awareness of the dynamics that contribute to marital success.
Questions to Consider Before Marriage.
Let me begin by saying I developed the following questions after years of working with troubled families, work that too often has been frustrating and fruitless. This is because many marital trysts are intractably disharmonious. Almost all of the problems encountered boil down to a few crucial, but avoidable trouble spots. The questions will draw your attention to these critical relationship areas. Nevertheless, it is well to note that although the questions are important, they are only questions and not answers. It is possible to have a successful marriage even though you answered “no” to many of the queries. It all depends on how you deal with the subjects at issue and on the personal significance these concerns have for you. No one can proclaim with certainty whom you should and should not marry. We must make our own decisions. In any event, you will profit from knowing the components of potential problems.
To make this article easier to use I have listed the questions first, together with summary statements, to provide you with a quick reference. In the next section a separate, larger discussion follows each question. Questions 1 to 10 focus on whom you chose for a partner. Question 11(part II) focuses on whom you chose to be as a partner.
1. DO you ACCEPT EACH OTHER AS you BOTH ARE?
It is important to accept each other’s faults, flaws, and shortcomings without the need to make changes.
This is a fundamental issue and possibly the most important question here. It reaches into the heart of the relationship and addresses a matter basic for stability and longevity.
2. HAS YOUR COURTSHIP BEEN SMOOTH OR TURBULENT?
Frequent or caustic premarital fights predict turmoil after marriage.
Did you get along well during your time of dating, or did you have many fights and disagreements? A “no” answer to the previous question (Quest. 1) indicates a lack of acceptance of each other’s basic behavioral traits. Your lack of acceptance will show itself in frequent fights and conflict and, thus, as a high level of turbulence in your courtship.
3. DO YOU LIKE THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT
YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE WITH YOUR INTENDED?
The way you feel about yourself when in your mate’s company frequently reflects your partner’s underlying, often unstated sentiments.
This is really a variant of the previous questions and has to do with feelings of personal acceptance stemming from the relationship, but at deeper levels.
4. DO you HAVE COMPATIBLE INTERESTS, ATTITUDES, VALUES AND GOALS?
It is important to be in harmony about the things you like to do, the beliefs you hold important, the way you view the world, and your life’s objectives.
These issues are so fundamentally important I could have listed them first. These are also the areas most frequently focused on by dating services. Without a reasonable match in these four areas, we diminish our chances for a long and successful relationship.
5. WHAT SPOUSAL ROLES DO you EXPECT AFTER MARRIAGE?
You need to agree about whether your marriage will be traditional or modern.
In marriage, we play many parts, i.e., partner, parent, companion, provider, homemaker, lover, helpmate, playmate, friend, confidant, and so forth all of which we can be subsume under the heading “spousal roles.” We usually come to a relationship with a certain set of expectations and desires regarding these roles
6. IS your INTENDED SEXUALLY ATTRACTIVE AND SATISFYING TO you?
Sexual and affectional compatibility are vital parts of a lasting and satisfying marriage.
For almost everyone, sexual gratification is one of the prime features of marriage. It is important that your needs be met in this area.
7. DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WHEN YOU ARE IN
THE COMPANY OF YOUR INTENDED’S
FAMILY AND FRIENDS?
Be aware that marriage frequently comes with a large cast of loveable, and sometimes not-so-loveable, characters
It is true that you will be marrying your mate and not your mate’s family. Nevertheless, if your intended loves his or her family and plans to spend much time with them, you best like them too, or at least be able to tolerate them.
8. ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE SATISFACTION OF EACH OTHER’S NEEDS?
Love includes a passionate desire to gratify your loved-one’s needs and desires.
Many people marry with the idea that marriage will satisfy all their requirements. Others believe it is their spouses’ duty to take care of them. In addition, some people are unhappy being single and believe only marriage will make them happy. Imagine the burden all three of these views place on their partners.
9. IS THERE THE FEELING OF SOLID AND ENDURING FRIENDSHIP?
People in satisfying marriages often describe their spouses as their best friend.
Some people have trouble accepting the notion that a person of the opposite sex could be their best friend. Thus, they overlook the possibility of friendship in marriage. However, a good friendship, with its trust, support, and loyalty, is the bedrock of a solid marriage.
10. ARE YOUR PERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD HYGENIC
Incompatibility in the need for orderliness and cleanliness can seriously undermine an otherwise gratifying partnership.
This is a more important area then many people realize.
11. ARE YOU WILLING TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY, AS
FAR AS IS REASONABLE, FOR MAKING THE
People who recognize that their actions influence their spouses’ behavior are best able to work out marital difficulties.
Choosing the right person is, sadly, not sufficient to produce a happy marriage. You must also be the right person both for your mate as well as for marriage in general.
More information on this important subject can be found in "Find Love That Lasts" available on Amazon Kindle. This book can be borrowed at no cost.
The following is a list of books on this subject that either I have personally read and recommend, or that clients or relationship professionals have suggested. Many say the same things, but in different ways. There are a number of great books out there not on the list. If you know of a book that was especially helpful to you, please let me know at email@example.com
Bach, G. R., & Wyden, P., (1968). The
Beck, A. T. (1988-9). Love is Never Enough. New York: Harper & Row.
Berman, S. (1984). The Six Demons of Love: Men's Fears of Intimacy, New York: McGraw Hill Book Company.
Bessell, H. (1984). The Love Test. New York: Morrow.
Bireda, M. R. (1990). Love Addiction: A Guide to Emotional
Blinder, M. (1989). Choosing Lovers. Lakewood, CO: Glenbridge Publishers.
Borcherdt, B. (1996). Head Over Heart in Love: 25 Guides to
Bradshaw, J. (1992). Creating Love: The Next Great Stage of Growth. New York: Macmillan.
Branden, N. (1981). The Psychology of Romantic Love. New York: Bantam Books.
Brehm, S. S. (1985). Intimate Relationships.
Buscaglia, L. (1984). Loving Each Other. New York: Fawcett.
Cappon, D., (1981) Coupling,
Chopich, E. J. & Paul, M. (1990, 1993). Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Christensen, A,, & Jacobson, N. S., (2000) Reconcilable Differences,
Cowan, C. & Kinder, M. (1985). Smart Women, Foolish Choices. New York: Signet.
Crowell, A. (1995). I'd Rather Be Married: Finding Your Future
DeAngelis, B. (1992). Are You the One for Me? New York: Delacorte Press.
Dreyfus, E. A. (1994). Someone Right for You. TAB Books.
Ellis, A. & Harper, R. A. (1975b). A Guide to Successful Marriage. North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books.
Emmons, M. L. & Alberti, R. E. (1991). Accepting Each Other: Individuality and Intimacy in Your Loving Relationship. San Luis Obispo, CA: Impact Publisher.
Fishbein, M., & Burgess, E. W., (1963) Successful Marriage, Garden City, NJ: Doubleday and Company.
Fishman, B. M. (1994). Resonance: The New Chemistry of Love: Creating a Relationship that Gives You the Intimacy and Independence You've Always Wanted. San Francisco: Harper.
Forward, S. & Buck, C. (1991). Obsessive Love: When Passion Holds You Prisoner. New York: Bantam.
Fromm, E. (1962, 1974). The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row.
J., (1981) Marriage,
Love, Sex and Divorce,
Giler, J. Z. (1992). Redefining Mr. Right: A Career Woman's
Guide to Finding a Mate.
Givens, D. (1983). Love Signals: How to Attract a Mate. New York: Pinnacle Books.
Goldstine, D., Larner, K., Zuckerman,
S., & Goldstine, H. (1977). The Dance-Away Lover.
Gottman, J., Notarius, C., Gonso, J. & Markman, H.
Couple's Guide to Communication.
J., & Silver, N.(1999). The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage
Gottman, J. M. (1979). Marital Interactions: Experimental Investigations, New York: Academic Press.
Gray, J. (1993). Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus. New York: HarperCollins.
Gray, J. (1994). What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You and Your Father Didn't Know: Advanced Relationship Skills for Lasting Intimacy. New York: HarperCollins.
Gray, J. (1995). Mars and Venus in the Bedroom: A Guide to Lasting Romance and Passion, New York: HarperCollins.
Greeson, J. (1994). Food for Love: Healing the Food, Sex, Love & Intimacy Relationship, New York: Pocket Books.
Halpern, H. M. (1994). Finally Getting It Right: From Addictive
Love to the Real Thing,
Harlow, H. F. (1973). Learning to Love, New York: Ballantine.
Hendrick, S. S. & Hendrick, C. (1992). Liking, Loving, and Relating, Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Hendrix, H. (1988). Getting the Love You Want, New York: Henry Holt.
Hendrix, H. (1990). Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, New York: HarperCollins.
Hendrix, H. (Feb., 1991). 10 Secrets of a Happy Marriage, Family Circle, 27-30.
Horner, A. (1990). Being & Loving: How to Achieve Intimacy with Another Person and Retain One's Own Identity, Northvale, NJ: Aronson.
Hunt, M. (1975). The Young Person's Guide to Love.
Huston, T. L., Surra,
C. A., Fitzgerald, N. M., & Cate, R. M. (1981). From Courtship to Marriage: Mate Selection as an
Interpersonal Process. In S. Duck & R. Gilmour
(eds.), Personal relationships. 2: Developing personal relationships,
Jacobson, N. S., & Christensen, A., (1996) Acceptance and Change in Couple
Jampolsky, G. G. (1979). Love Is Letting Go of Fear,
Johnson, S. (March, 1994). Love: The Immutable Longing for Contact. Psychology Today , 27 , 33-37, 64-66.
Lasswell, M. & Lobsenz, N.
Lauer, J. C. & Lauer, R. (1986). 'Til Death Do Us Part,
Lederer, W. J. & Jackson,
Lerner, H. G. (1989). The Dance of Intimacy, New York: Harper & Row.
Mace, D. R. (1958). Success in Marriage, Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Mace, D. & Mace, V. (1974). We Can Have
Better Marriages If We Really Want Them,
Matthews, A. M (1993). The Engaged Woman's Survival Guide,
May, R., (1969) Love and
McCary, J. L. (1975). Freedom and Growth in Marriage, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
McGraw, P., (2005) Love Smart,
McKay, M., Fanning, P. & Paleg, K. (1994). Couple Skills,
Napier, A. Y. (1994). The Fragile Bond: In Search of an Equal,
Intimate, and Enduring Marriage,
Oden, T. C. (1974). Game Free: A Guide to the Meaning of Intimacy, New York: Harper and Row.
O'Hanlon, B. & Hudson, P. (1995). Love Is a Verb:
How to Stop Analyzing Your Relationship & Start Making It Great,
O'Neill, N. & O'Neill, G. (1973). Open Marriage,
Osherson, S. (1992). Wrestling with Love, New York: Fawcett.
Paul, J. & Paul, M. (1983). Do I Have to Give Up Me to be Loved by You? Minneapolis, MN: CompCare Publications.
Phillips, D. & Judd, R. (1978). How to Fall Out
Phillips, G. & Goodall,
L. (1983). Loving
Pines, A. (1988). Keeping the Spark Alive, New York: St. Martin's Press.
Powell, J. (1974). The Secret of Staying in Love, Niles, IL: Argus Communications.
Tucker-Ladd, C., (2000) Psychological Self-Help, mentalhelp.net.
Raphael, S. J. & Abadie, M. J. (1984). Finding Love: Practical Advice for Men and Women, New York: Arbor House.
Rhodes, S. & Potash, M. S. (1989). Cold Feet: Why Men Don't Commit, New York: NAL-Dutton.
Rock, M. (1986). The Marriage Map, Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishing.
Rogers, C. R. (1972). Becoming Partners: Marriage and its Alternatives, New York: Delacorte Press.
Ruben, H. L. (1986). Supermarriage: Overcoming Predictable Crises of Married Life, New York: Bantam.
Rubin, L. (1983). Intimate Strangers-Men and Women Together, New York: Harper Colophon Books.
Rubin, Z. (1973). Liking and loving: An
Invitation to Social Psychology,
Rubinstein, C. & Shaver, P. (1982b). In Search of Intimacy, New York: Random House.
Sangrey, D. (1983). Wifestyles-Women Talk About
Sarnoff, I. & Sarnoff, S. (1989). Love-Centered
Marriage in a Self-Centered World,
Scarf, M. (1987). Intimate Partners: Patterns in love and
Schaef, A. W. (1989). Escape from Intimacy, San Francisco: Harper & Row.
D., (1997) Passionate Marriage,
Schwartz, P. (1994). Peer Marriage: How Love Between Equals
Schwebel, R. (1992). Who's on Top, Who's on Bottom: How Couples Can Learn to Share Power, New York: New market.
Siegelman, E. (1983). Personal Risk: Mastering Change in Love and
Shain, M. (1974). Some Men are More Perfect Than Others,
Short, R. (1992). Sex, Love, or Infatuation? How can I really know? Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Publisher.
Shostrom, E. & Kavanaugh, J.
Sills, J. (1987). A Fine Romance: The Psychology of
Successful Courtship, Making it Work for You,
Sternberg, R. J. (1991). Love the Way You Want It,
Sternberg, R. J. & Barnes, M. L. (1988). The Psychology
Suid, R., Bradley, B., Suid, M., & Eastman, J. (1976). Married, Etc., Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Veroff, J. & Feld, S. (1971). Marriage and Work in America: A Study of Motives and Roles, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Viscott, D. (1976, 1990). How to Live With Another
Wallerstein, J. S. & Blakeslee, S. (1995). The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Warren, N. C. (2002). Date
or Soul Mate: How to Know If Someone is Worth Pursuing
in Two Dates or Less,
Whyte, M. K. (1990). Dating, Mating, and Marriage,
Wilson, A. & Wilson, D. (1976). Cosmopolitan's
Living Together (Married or Not) Handbook,
Young-Eisendrath, P. (1993). You're Not What I Expected: Learning to Love the Opposite Sex, New York: Morrow Press.
Zerof, H. G. (1978). Finding Intimacy: The Art of Happiness in Living Together, New York: Random House.
Zunin, L. & Zunin, N. (1973, 1988). Contact: The First Four Minutes, New York: Ballantine.