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Marriage Red Flags

Comedian Anthony Zenhauser
Anthony Zenhauser

Marriage is a sacred union. It’s the pinnacle promise that two people in love make when they are ready to spend the rest of their lives together. Before God and loved ones, they recite their vows of fidelity and promise that for better or for worse, they will always be with each other forever. Cut to a couple of years later however, you realize that forever might be a lot longer than you would have liked. Breakfast has become a staring contest. You find yourself lying about where you are because you aren’t somewhere you were “supposed” to be 10 minutes ago. The bedroom that used to be a vivacious, hedonistic jungle gym now has all the charm and warmth of an abandoned neighborbood from the Chernobyl aftermath. So how do you know the person you’re with is marriage material? There are definitly signs that will let you know if you should either say “I do” or “I think we should see other people.”

1. They don’t like your friends or vice versa.

Your friends are your rock. These are the people that have been loyal and true to you for years and have shown you time and time again that they care about you. They enjoy your company and they get your humor. However, every time you try to incorporate your significant other into the mix, the fur tends to fly. Things get awkward and even heated. On the way home you might get an earful about “how your friends don’t respect you,” or how “childish and stupid” your time is spent with them. Your friends might take you aside and tell you flat out that he/she isn’t right for you. Why would your friends of all those years now want to wish you pain and misery? There’s a good chance they just see what you can’t because you are blinded by love; that the person you are with is not the right fit for you. Remember, bros before ho’s.

2. Was it love at first sex?

The saying goes “you eat with your eyes first.” Well the same can go for love. We are animals of passion. Our loins are heated up and our hormones are firing on all cylinders. You can easily fall for a pretty face or a great rear end and not even know a thing about a person. A sexually charged fling can be a great way to start a relationship, but It might not stand the test of time after things fizzle out. Sometimes the only time you are into that person is when you are ACTUALLY in that person. Common interests are key to a long-lasting relationship. If the thrill is gone you will be left with a limp marriage.

3. Holding grudges after a fight.

Everyone fights, no big deal. It would be weird and crazy if you and your partner never had an argument or disagreement. However, no matter how much screaming and yelling goes on, there should be forgivness. If there is something that one person can never let go or forgive, it will haunt you for the rest of your relationship. A lack of trust or respect is marriage poison.

4. Old relatinships are the key to the future.

One thing never changes; people never change. When you are in a relationship with someone they always tell you how horrible it was being with their ex. However there are always two sides to that story. Why did they break up in the first place? Maybe there is more to the story than it seems. A history of violence can mean you have a future impersonating a punching bag. If someone cheats on their ex because they were unhappy, there’s a great chance you might come home one day to find a pair of feet under your bed. Read between the lines. Nothing is always one sided.

Relationships are give and take. It’s always best to know the person you’re with and have a strong basis of friendship with them even before being intimate. It seems that the people with the most in common will have a better chance of a great marriage. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and to argue when you want to make a point, but don’t hold on to the past. And most importantly: Time is your friend! Spend years with that person first. See if you both can survive a week in one room together, let alone 50 years. Go through better or worse with them before you vow to. Marriage is just the legal institution of having the things you already share with a special someone, just with bigger tax breaks. Respect, love and trust. Also, signing a prenuptual agreement it never hurts!

– Anthony Zenhauser
Killing Timesville

John Powers
John Powers

As someone who recently got married this subject is very close to home. I feel like my lady and I can make it, but that’s not an abstract thought. It’s based on facts about our relationship that make us more likely to be on the “forever after” side of that 50% statistic. Here’s what I think you should look out for when considering marriage…

1. Honesty
The best thing you can do is communicate honestly and directly with your partner. Trust is the ocean that relationships sail on. Make sure it’s smooth and flat. If you doubt your partner’s honesty chances are good you will not overcome that obstacle. Trust is something that is built over time. Starting a relationship under a false pretense will not work out well in the long run. Little white lies, when discovered, accumulate into big black lies and instill your partner with doubt and fear.

2. Priorities
You both need to make the relationship a priority. It should be fairly high on your lists. You should establish reasonable expectations for each other that are clear and easy to follow up on. We can see friends once a week, but we should have a date night once a week too. Texting each other back is more important than work emails. Little things like that add up over time. Good relationships are ones where both parties agree that they are getting what they need.

3. Relax Together
Find ways to blow off steam and decompress together. I like a glass of Johnny Walker Blue and a video game after a really tough day. She likes reading articles in the Economist. We can do both of those things in the same room. Although we are engaged in separate activities we are still together. That helps. I can put my guitar down every so often and ask how she’s enjoying her book. It seems simple but it goes a long way. We both get to recreate in our own leisure activities but we still feel like we are sharing quality time.

4. Be Flexible
There are Dealbreakers in every relationship. (See: Dealbreakers) Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t do drugs… aside from that try to be flexible. It’s willful stubbornness about little things that eventually break couples. Would I prefer karaoke to the opera? Sure. Will I go to the opera anyhow to make her happy? Absolutely. Doing things that make your person happy is very important. There are adjustments we can all make to accommodate each other. Let the little things go for the sake of the big picture. As Tyler Durden said, “let that which is not truly important truly slide.”

5. Show Affection
When I reached in my pants pocket today I found a post-it note that said “I love you.” I know she does, but it feels good to find that on my way to work. It makes sitting on a bus with smelly people mumbling to themselves a bit more bearable. I do the same. I remind her daily of why I find her so amazing. It’s important not to be roommates. Be lifemates. Make it obvious that this is a relationship of love and affection. Don’t take each other for granted. Cherish each other.

6. Be Unselfish
It harkens back to being flexible, but it’s a bit different. Being unselfish is the best way to be. I’m not always going to get my way… and that’s fine. It takes a certain level of maturity (that some people are not capable of) to put your own wants aside for the sake of your person’s happiness. They are wants after all. Our needs are completely met. We both have good jobs and we have food, water, and a tiny apartment. Everything else is a want, not a need. Let your person have what they want when you can. They will appreciate it and you will be happy to make them happy.

7. Resent Not, Lest Ye Be Resented
If you have an issue… raise it. Nobody benefits from martyrdom. Holding resentment is the worst thing you can do in a relationship. If something bothers you, express it. Does it bother me that she clips her toenails in the living room? Sure. Do I harbor resentment about it? Heck no. I find it humorous. Talk about things that upset you. Even if it’s just a feeling. “Hey, I’d really prefer if you would give me your full attention when I speak,” is better than 6-months later, “Why are you always playing fucking Angry Birds when I’m trying to fucking tell you something?!” Resentment leads to bottles up emotions. The bottle doesn’t allow for a slow release. It eventually breaks and everything comes out amidst shards of glass. Let your bottle not fill. Let any anger or resentment out slowly and carefully, like letting air out of a balloon by pinching the nipple. Your partner will be glad that you are expressing concern before it grows out of proportion.

I hope that helps. I know a lot of people getting married and it’s not an easy thing to do. Give each other room to be yourselves but keep choosing to come back because you want to. That’s the best advice I can give. Unconditional love only exists between parents and children. In a relationship you must choose love every day if you want it to last.

– John Powers
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