It seems that almost all of humanity is cursed with this same problem. I know I suffer from this, and to a large degree. Here is what I am talking about: when I was single and would meet a woman for the first time, I found her attractiveness to be much higher than the next time I would see her. The idealized version of her in my head was not reality, it seems. My initial impression of someone was not based in reality, it was a different version in my head. It happened over and over to me, until I realized this pattern for what is was: rose colored glasses.
This is why waited five years to propose to my (now) wife; I wanted to be sure that she wasn’t hiding a crazy that I couldn’t see. And I also wanted to make sure she was seeing me in all lights as well, and that my brand of crazy was something she could handle. Five years affords a lot of life changes, ups and down and more to get a real good idea of who you are dealing with before you sign that marriage certificate. Far too many people are in a rush to “solidify a relationship” through marriage when the reality is there is much to learn about one another before this should occur, in my opinion of course. I have seen far too many twenty-somethings rush to get married right out of college only to grow apart by age thirty and get divorced shortly thereafter. You need to figure out as much as possible ahead of time, not deal with things as they come up. Take a look at the divorce rate stats and see for yourself. The national divorce rate is 60%, but as you’ll see in the research numbers, there are a ton of contributing factors. But marriage at an early age is stacking the deck against yourselves.
The quote that gave me the spark of inspiration for this blog was as follows:
The problem with rose colored glasses is that all of the red flags just look like flags.
VERY well put. You need time to see the person for who they really are. You will want to know how they handle adversity, how they fight, how they interact with your family and theirs. If someone goes from zero to sixty over every little thing that appears to be a disagreement, you may want to reconsider hitching your wagon to them. And if the opposite it true, no communication and a cold shoulder for every minor infraction that occurs, again, you may want to reconsider a lifetime of that type of treatment. Walking on eggshells all the time trying to not “upset” your partner to avoid a fight is no way to live and certainly not a recipe for success.
You need to understand that EVERYONE has baggage from previous relationships as well as their upbringing and other “environmental” factors. I highly recommend that you work on losing the rose colored glasses as quickly as possible when dating someone new, and start looking for the red flags. If you leave the glasses on, as the quote above implies, the red flags will just look like regular flags. You will be blinded to the warning signs that are right there in front of you. No one is perfect, but to quote a good friend of mine: “You have to find a brand of crazy that you can deal with”. Truer words have never been spoken. I know I have my own stuff, and although I do my best to contain it, that stuff spills out once in a while It is just how it is, so I needed to know that my wife could handle the spills. I needed to see her spills and issues as well, and also how she handles them. She is a rare breed, and handles things differently than most women. It’s one of the things I love and admire about her the most.
I don’t want to take the fun out of a romance, but I firmly believe that you need to look at a long term relationship like a business deal. There are so many things to consider before diving into getting married. Here are just a few of the conversations I believe that should be had BEFORE you make a leap like this:
–Do you want to have children? If so, how many? When?
–are we raising them in alignment with a particular religious denomination? Are we going to have help
from family members? Are we both going to work, or is one of us staying home with the kids?
–What is your credit score? How much debt do you have?
–Do you plan to live in the same city your whole life?
These are just a few of the myriad of questions that should be discuss WAY in advance of ever getting deep into a relationship. You need to take off the rose colored glasses, set the emotions aside and get down to business. One of the main reasons couple fight is money, so the list above touches on a few of those points to learn about one another. I was $70K in debt when I met my future wife, and I tried like Hell to erase that before I proposed. I couldn’t do it; my relationship with money was the reason I had this debt in the first place. I needed her help, but I didn’t want to burden her with my issues. But I also didn’t risk not moving things forward, so we sat down and had a long talk about it. She knew what she was getting into, and agreed to be on that journey with me. TOGETHER, we erased that debt and are now completely debt free, minus our very affordable mortgage payment. THAT is how you set yourselves up for success…communication in advance is key. You don’t play fireman, trying to extinguish something on fire when you could have a planning session and map out a strategy for avoiding these common issues.
I was stunned at how many people asked me after I got married if we had talked about having kids yet. WHAT?!?!? The answer was yes, we did that on date number two. I’m not kidding. My wife is ten years younger, had been married before, and was 32 when we met. If her biological alarm clock was going off, I am not the guy you want to be dating. Fortunately for me, she was of that same opinion, and therefore we moved things forward. This would have been a deal-breaker if we were not on the same page. And it SHOULD be, as this is a huge difference of life choices, and one of us would have held it against the other throughout our marriage if we waited to talk about it until after we tied the knot. I had already decided that I did not want to have kids, and I have not waivered on that decision. I have seen how tough my sister’s life has been at times with four kids, and I do not want that. I wasn’t man enough to follow in my father’s footsteps, but luckily I knew that a long time ago and acted accordingly. And it takes more than both sets of fingers to count how many of my friends have quietly made the statement “I love my kids, but….”.
Stop assuming the best is always going to happen, that the person you are in love with now will be the same years down the road. Many men get married hoping their wife will stay the same, while women frequently marry thinking they can mold the man into who they want/need them to be. That right there is a misalignment from both sides and is a major contributing factor to the divorce rate. I am sure that this is just one of the reasons married people bicker. I absolutely hate the way most married people speak to one another. It drives me crazy to be around my married friends who seems to be constantly annoyed with their significant other. That’s not how things are supposed to be; I understand it is not all sunshine and roses, but the majority of the time it should be. Or at least you should treat one another with respect and as the long term partner that they are.
If you want to hedge your bet to being in a successful long term relationship, please heed my advice. I have been around a while, been through some stuff, and I know what I am talking about. I don’t have all the answers, but you are welcome to the ones I have in order to make your chances better.