When you’re swept up in the excitement and emotion of getting married, it’s hard to imagine that things might be less than perfect. Or, even worse, that the marriage could possibly start off with unresolved problems that create a rocky path from the get-go.
Unfortunately, many couples either fail to see, or willingly ignore, many of the red flags that can occur before getting married. This doesn’t mean they can’t be resolved or that the marriage will fail. But it’s infinitely easier to take care of issues prior to saying “I do” rather than after.
And doesn’t every couple want to start off on a path lined with rose petals and not thorns?
Before you take that walk down the aisle, do yourself and your partner a big favor and ensure that the following red flags have been dealt with and resolved.
Sounds wonderful, right? Well, maybe for a little while, but overall, no. Idolizing and putting you on a pedestal isn’t healthy. You have flaws – they’re part of what makes you who you are. If your partner fails to see them it can indicate they don’t really want to know you and accept all of you.
It can also indicate that they aren’t secure, mature, and grounded enough to deal with life’s hard parts. And that could leave you stuck on a cliff with a long way to fall. What happens when they finally do admit that you’re not perfect? Often, that can lead to hyper-critical behavior and bigger relationship problems.
It’s universally accepted that family is important. And staying connected to your family, caring for them, enjoying them, and respecting those relationships can be part of a healthy, well-rounded life. However, if your future spouse can’t make a move without their permission, or if the relationships are otherwise unhealthy, that is a red flag. Remember, you are marrying into this family and those connections will impact you greatly.
Is your betrothed overly friendly with the opposite sex? Do they explain it away as, “It’s nothing, honey,” or “I’m just being nice”? Flirting can be a big problem as it very often blurs the lines between appropriate and inappropriate. It also can lead to the wrong impression being given and be a gateway for cheating. At minimum it’s disrespectful to you and may leave you feeling understandably uncomfortable and insecure in your relationship.
You want to feel a close connection to your partner, but you don’t want to feel controlled by them. If you feel like your partner needs to know everything about what you do, where you go, and who you talk to, then there’s a problem. Controlling behavior can lead to abusive behavior. It’s also not healthy.
The best relationships result when each partner has individual interests and certain autonomous portions of their lives. They can then share these with one another through conversation and advice. This isn’t to say either partner should have secrets or parts of their lives they hide, just that they each should retain some individuality within the relationship.
Yes, certain jobs are time-consuming and require a lot of energy and focus. But if your partner is continually placing you second or neglecting you altogether, I wouldn’t anticipate it changing just because you’re married.
Figuring it out later is a dicey plan when it comes to whether you’ll start a family or not. This can become a contentious and highly emotional problem if you don’t see eye-to-eye on a general desire, or lack of desire, to have children. Having a general agreement and similar position before you get married is important.
With many marriages ending in divorce, there are those who have a fairly cavalier attitude about the seriousness of marriage. Not only is this a shame, it’s also not part of setting things up for long-term success in marriage. If you look at divorce as a reasonable escape when things get tough, then you’re probably not ready for marriage at all.
We’d all like to think that love is more important than money, but the truth is that financial problems are one of the biggest sources of arguments and problems within a marriage. Having faith in each other’s ability to manage money, make good decisions, and reach agreement on how finances are handled is crucial.
While these are all things that should tell you to proceed with caution, they don’t have to mean the end of the relationship, or that you should never marry your partner. What they do mean, however, is that you’d be wise to take some time to sort them out before getting married.
Start by being honest about your concerns. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but if you’re planning on getting married you have to get used to having some uncomfortable discussions. That’s part of being married.
Of course, these are not all the possible red flags that could be present before getting married. The most important thing to do of all is listen to your own intuition and instincts. If something seems off or like it bears additional conversation, then you’ll need to explore that. It’s when you can comfortably say, “I do” without any reservations that you’ve set yourself, your partner, and your marriage on the best path for success.
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.