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          Are You Ready for Marriage?

          March 03, 2003


          Is getting married right for you? What do you need to know before you walk down the aisle? Dr. Phil advises you to take a closer look at yourself and the relationship before tying the knot. Ask yourself these questions:

          Why are you getting married?
          Be honest and evaluate the reasons behind your engagement. Write a list of pros and cons about your partner and your relationship. If you have to talk yourself into marriage — don’t. If you have to talk your fiancé into marriage — no way! Make sure you are not getting married to escape or avoid something. Have you just always wanted to get married? That’s not a good enough reason. If you get nauseous shopping for a wedding dress or seem to be sick every time you have to meet the caterer, listen to your body.

          Do you know and trust your partner’s personal history?
          The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior. Learn from it. How has your partner behaved in past relationships? How have they behaved with you? What has your partner learned about marriage from his/her parents? Look closely at your partner’s parents — children learn what they live.

          Have you planned a marriage — or just a wedding?
          Cake, flowers and fine china are all exciting, but there’s more at stake than one day. Your wedding is a day; a marriage is a lifetime. You don’t just want to be married, you want to be happily married. Think about the next 50 years. Put at least the same amount of time and effort that you are using to plan your wedding into planning your marriage. Develop an emotional prenuptial agreement with your partner, outlining how you’ll handle children, discipline, sex, money, division of labor, religion, careers, retirement, in-laws, geography, etc. If you don’t plan for and discuss these topics, you won’t be able to successfully merge two lives together.

          Are you investing more than you can afford to lose?
          Look at the cost of your relationship. If you have to give up your friends, career, or family, for example, the cost is too high. If it all falls apart, are you going to be emotionally bankrupt? It is better to be healthy alone, than sick with someone else.

          Have you identified and communicated your needs and expectations?
          Know yourself. You can’t determine if somebody is good for you if you don’t know your own needs. It’s not selfish to have goals within a relationship. Express your needs and expectations now — not when you’re already in the marriage. What are your absolute deal breakers? Do you know your partner’s?

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