Some married people get divorces. As Allan sometimes likes to say, a little tongue in cheek, “The first step to a divorce is marriage.” The primary reason that people divorce is complicated and will be the topic of our next and final blog in this series on Discussions to Have Before Marriage.
In brief, spouses bring differences to their marriage. Some of those differences enhance the marriage, some make no difference one way or the other, but some differences lead to disagreements. When spouses fail to resolve disagreements in a healthy way, disagreements morph into conflict, and thereafter lead to increasingly negative feelings about the marriage and the spouse. Over time, the conflict grows, as do negative thoughts about one another, and at some breaking point, divorce becomes a reality. The is the most important reason that people get a divorce. As we said, this will be the topic of our next blog.
The second most important reasons that people get a divorce is because they encounter a deal breaker in the marriage. A marriage is a contract with certain rules and conditions. Sometimes, spouses simply assume what those rules and conditions are- and follow them. This can be a mistake, because the spouses might have very different ideas as to what those rules and conditions are- and what they mean.
For example, there are many benefits to being single. A single person can keep a residence as tidy or messy as he or she wants. He or she can take major risks with a career; can handle money, debt and property however they like (under the law); can chase other relationships with the opposite sex; can spend whatever time he or she likes with friends; can drink or try/use other drugs; and on and on it goes. When people marry, they gave to give up at least some of the benefits of being single and share control of their lives together.
A spouse might assume that the other spouse is willing to give up those benefits, only to find after marriage that the other spouse does not want to give them up. This can be the beginning of the end of the marriage.
It is certainly better is to discuss, prior to marriage, what are or might be potential deal breakers.
Some of this might seem obvious. Most spouses do not want their partner to have affairs. However, without discussing this, one spouse in the marriage might run up credit card debt or obtain unnecessary loans, and worse yet, even lie about it. One spouse might find out later that the other spouse wants to have an “open marriage” and have sex with other people, outside the marriage. Other deal breakers might be more subtle.
Other problems might develop during the marriage. A little acceptable marijuana use before the marriage might later become a problem with cocaine. A pattern of little lies might turn into a pattern of big lies. A hobby of saving interesting house decorations might become a pattern of hoarding.
Our important point is for potential spouses to have the discussion about what might be deal breakers, or maybe more importantly, to plan discussions about deal breakers if and when warning signs appear in the marriage.
Be sure to read Blog 6 in this series to address the potential problems with differing political views.