What is taking so long why the rush to marriage can doom your relationship


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What is taking so long why the rush to marriage can doom your relationship

  1. 1. What Is Taking So Long? Why The Rush To Marriage CanDoom Your RelationshipIf the question is how long you should wait before moving toward marriage in yourrelationship, my answer is that I don’t really care how long you wait. There is no magictime limit that guarantees success or failure. In fact, the amount of time has very little todo with whether you should move forward. It is possible to wait too long to move yourrelationship toward marriage. It is also possible not to wait long enough. And yes, thereare always exceptions to the rule, but this discussion is about why the probabilitiesusually prevail.The best answer is probably somewhere in the middle—between too long and not longenough. I am more concerned about partners who are not on the same page. I amconcerned that one partner may be more invested than the other. I am concerned aboutexternal forces that couples allow to override the organic trajectory and growth of therelationship.I’m far less concerned with a wedding date.I admit I cringe a bit when couples marry too quickly. I am always curious as to what isgoing on that they’re in such a hurry. I get it… we get excited about the opportunity tonest—to plan weddings and shop for dresses and take on mortgages and have babies.We get excited about building something together… something we can count on. But ifthe relationship is going to live up to the dream, it needs to be resilient and stable,loving and reverent. Marriage needs to be a very sacred space. For that, it needs astrong foundation. And that doesn’t happen in haste.So it is a mistake to go too fast. Couples need to experience each other as life unfolds.In the beginning when everything is shiny and new, it’s easy to count on each other, tobe in love, to feel all those wonderful, hopeful things. But passion and love fluctuate.They aren’t meant to be sustained. Eventually, we need to get down to the business oflife, and that takes a toll.In a strong relationship, passion and love are consciously revisited and nurtured. That’sthe hard part.Commitment is a decision, not a feeling. Commitment has the ability to ride the wavesof passion and love to sustain the relationship through real challenges. Commitmentmakes the decision to revisit passion and love over and over again, despite theobstacles of life. Commitment creates the deeper love that makes a relationship trulyresilient because it is built on a strong, healthy foundation. By slowing it down from thevery beginning, each partner has the opportunity to peel their protective layers andreveal their true vulnerabilities. This is when couples begin to learn whether thewww.bobbijankovich.com www.DecodingHim.com
  2. 2. relationship is a journey they intend to take together or whether it’s easier to bail out atthe first sign of trouble.It takes time.Then there are the long-term relationships. These might be very stable couples,together for years, but who have never ventured forward into deeper commitment ormarriage. These couples may be relatively satisfied with the state of the relationship.However, often one partner is anxious to move forward, while the other is resistant. Weoften hear from these couples that they are busy building careers or that they don’t feelfinancially stable. Financial and career stability are certainly positive things and Iparticularly encourage these pursuits prior to a relationship in young relationships. It isimportant for young adults to spend plenty of time discovering who they are to be in theworld on their own, before bringing another person into the equation. But for the long-term relationships, I suspect something else is going on.Marriage is a joint venture. In marriage, we commit to doing life together, hand in hand.We’re a team. Think of marriage (or commitment) as the center of life—the core. It is theplace from which everything else pivots. Romance, family life, social life, spiritual life,personal growth, health and well-being, work and career, finances, home life. Thoughthey are usually in various states of satisfaction and balance, these are thecompartments that make up life. None of them exists to the exclusion of the others.Working through the compartments together is a valuable part of relationship growth.So if a relationship is just plodding along after a prolonged period of time, waiting for achange in one or two compartments to the neglect of the rest, I suspect that for one orboth partners, the relationship has not been a priority. Career and financial goals mayjust be a really great justification that masks some other reason not to move deeper intothe relationship. And we can speculate all day and night about those reasons. But thebottom line is that the relationship has probably run its course. Somebody isn’t invested.Somebody isn’t completely committed. And after investing all that time, the decision tomarry is often made with a sense of obligation, instead of mutual adoration.In either case, it’s a little like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. Whether it’stoo little time or too much time, we are determined to make the relationship work. Nevermind that the square isn’t meant for the round hole. Never mind that it’s frustrating andpainful.So before you decide if your relationship is ready to move on to marriage, here are afew questions to ask yourself:www.bobbijankovich.com www.DecodingHim.com
  3. 3. Are you the only one talking about future and commitment?I said it earlier: Marriage is a joint venture. You can’t do it alone. And if you’re thinkingthat “he will come around” or that something will change, you could be right. But if youdon’t have mutual goals from the beginning, you need to keep that in mind. Square peg,round hole.Are there red flags that you have been ignoring or rationalizing?Get honest here. When I see women who are in the process of, or have been divorced,they can easily identify a whole list of clues that the relationship was not working fromearly on in the relationship. Then we talk about what they told themselves that keptthem from facing that truth. You don’t need to end the relationship, but don’t put yourhead in the sand either. Identify the red flags. Write them down. Then write down all ofyour excuses for ignoring them. Because these will be the things you will be discussingwith your friends (or therapist) when the relationship ends.Why do you want to marry him?Really look at this because this is where a lot of marriages go wrong. Don’t get stuck at“I love him.” That’s too easy and often, it’s not enough. Ask yourself: What do I admire about this man? What am I most proud of about him? Is this someone who I can respect and cherish? Whether or not I want children, what would this man teach my kids? When I talk to my friends about him, do I tell them how wonderful he is, or am I complaining about his faults or what he needs to change? Do I love him as is? If you’ve identified some flaw, some imperfection—anything from “he smokes cigarettes” to “he’s completely unreliable”—then this is not the relationship for you. If you’re waiting, hoping, nagging, pleading with him to change, this is not the relationship for you.Why do you want to get married now?What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read this question? The questionspeaks to depth of your ideas about marriage. Is it because you want the big wedding?Is it because you thought you would be married by now? Is it because everyone iswww.bobbijankovich.com www.DecodingHim.com
  4. 4. asking when you’re getting married? Because you want a baby? Because it will makeyou feel special? Because it will make you feel secure? If marriage is to be a sacredspace where you both live, you should feel secure and special already. And so shouldhe. And if you both feel that marriage is just the obvious extension of a connection youalready have, you’re ready. Any other answer isn’t good enough to last.Do you feel cherished in this relationship?This doesn’t require that your guy brings you flowers every day or fawns all over youtelling you how perfect you are. You’re not perfect. But everyone has their own way ofbeing cherished. Does he get you? Does he think about you when he’s away? Does hemake you feel completely secure? Does he call you on your stuff, but love you anyway?Criticism. Contempt. Defensiveness. Stonewalling.Do any of these negative interactions exist in your relationship? This is the point whenpeople usually tell me that all relationships have some of that going on. Don’t they? Yes,they probably do. But to what degree? Renowned couples researcher, John Gottman,found that healthy relationships tend to have a ratio of 5 to 1 positive to negativeinteractions. And that couples with less than this have a lesser chance of long-termsuccess. That means, for every 1time criticism or contempt or defensiveness or stonewalling shows up in yourrelationship, there needs to be 5 positive interactions to create a stable relationship.And according to Gottman, in very happy couples, the ratio is much higher. This is worthkeeping in mind next time you pick a fight over the cap on the toothpaste.Strong, healthy relationships are not about avoiding negative interaction. On thecontrary, they are built on a couple’s ability to recover from those negative interactions.And that ability is developed when there is deep respect for one another and a positiveculture of appreciation in the relationship.If you find yourself asking how long you should wait before expecting a move towardmarriage, I might suggest that you’re asking the wrong question.About the authorBobbi Jankovich is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in WestLos Angeles and Sherman Oaks, California. She focuses on individuals, couples andadolescents with particular emphasis on living a life with purpose and meaning anddeveloping personal relationships with deeper connections.www.bobbijankovich.com www.DecodingHim.com
  5. 5. You can reach her at 818.321.3493 or through email at bobbi [at] bobbijankovich.com(replace [at] with @). For more information, check out her websiteat www.bobbijankovich.com. For more free tips and insights on what really attracts a man, how to make yourself irresistible to him and how to capture his heart, click the link below. www.decodinghim.comwww.bobbijankovich.com www.DecodingHim.com