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Whether you are getting married for the first time or the third or maybe you are newly divorced and trying to put together the pieces of what went wrong in your marriage I think it's important to look at how the path to a divorce can start even before you get married. What follows are some trends that I've noticed in my own life and in the lives of others: 1 - Can You Live With What She Lacks?: There are a lot of reasons why we decide to marry someone or get involved in a relationship with them in the first place. Normally these reasons are centered on a suite of personal traits or characteristics that we find attractive and compatible. So far so good; my experience though has taught me that it is just as important to consider what she may LACKING. Is she domineering? rude? messy? irresponsible with money? demanding? . . . Look for these things and then sit yourself down and SERIOUSLY ask how you honestly feel about living the rest of your life with someone with that trait. Understand that she will probably never stop acting that way and more than likely will get worse with age. 2- Can She Communicate?: Ok so she's REALLY cute, is smart and good at what she does . . . but can she communicate with you? Any long term relationship is going to require a lot of communication in order to get through. Often new couples will avoid having an argument at all costs - one or both partners will quickly give in to the other rather than risk a fight. This quickly becomes an expectation in the relationship that carries over into the marriage; wonderful plan until something comes up that is so important that no one wants to give in . . . then we got problems! Much better to start developing healthy conflict resolution skills from the start; learning how to work on resolving disagreements to your mutual satisfaction and honestly communicating your thoughts, needs and desires with each other. So ask yourself - can she do that? 3 - Would you Marry Her Mother?: yeah . . I know . . . disturbing to think about, but the underlying principle is sound. Someone years ago asked me that same question after I got engaged to my first wife. The answer was a BIG no! Her mother was manipulative, deceitful and had some other serious issues I won't go into right now. But I told myself that my blushing bride-to-be was different than her mother and ignored the advice. Well guess what - in a few short years I found myself married to someone who was manipulative, deceitful and had many of the same issues as her mother. . . BIG SURPRISE. Like it or not, believe it or not, women tend to emulate their mothers. So if you wouldn't marry them . . . don't marry her. Are there exceptions? I imagine there are but they are few and far between. 4 - Find Her Focus: What is her true passion and can you share your life with it? If she is very religious and you aren't then that may be an issue you need to consider. Or maybe she's very much into children and you aren't or loves working out or yoga or camping or . . . in other words are her passions and yours compatible? Having separate interests is good and healthy in a marriage and you don't necessarily have to be "into" everything she enjoys or visa versa but if


she's a vegetarian and you love to hunt then not only are your interests separate; they are diametrically opposed! While it may be something that can be overlooked in the short-term it's going to be a potential source of trouble in the long-run 5 - Do You Have Compatible Standards?: We all carry with us certain assumptions about what is acceptable in a variety of areas. These standards touch on house keeping, income, vehicles, food . . . pretty much everything. What may be perfectly acceptable for one person may be perfectly UNacceptable to another. It doesn't necessarily mean anyone is "picky" or "a slob" it just means that their standards are either a bit above or below our own. Sometimes these aren't readily apparent to us as we are dating or we think them unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But the reality is that differences in standards - even relatively minor ones - can be the source of a lot of problems in a marriage. If her idea of a "nice restaurant" involves six forks and "courses" and you think of anything without a drive-through as "fancy" . . . well then there will be problems come Valentine's won't there? You can surmount these differences but you need to both be aware of them and show that you are able to be flexible; not always an easy thing to do. So these are just a few examples of things to look for as you are dating or looking at moving into another long-term relationship. They've certainly been a factor for me in the past and from what I've seen they hold true for many other men as well. Hope it's been helpful, until next time . . . Be Well.

Bill Dudesndivorce.com is an informal discussion between men about life before, during, and after divorce. We share what we've learned from our own experiences with divorce and encourage others to do the same. Drop in and have a look around at [http://dudesndivorce.com]

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