There are no guarantees to this marriage thing. You can do everything you know to do, and still have your marriage not work out. But does that mean you should dive in with reckless abandon? Certainly not.
Many terrible marriages would never even have happened at all if certain questions had been asked.
For instance, in this world where more and more couples are divorcing citing “irreconcilable differences”, you should ask yourself whether you are ignoring red flags.
Some people have been genuinely blindsided, but more often than not the signs were always there and we either refused to see them for what they were, or thought we could handle it. Anyone who has read marriage books or attended good relationship/marriage seminars most likely knows that ignoring red flags can be disastrous. The late Pastor Bimbo used to say, “Magnify it five times.” This simply means that if something is an issue when you’re courting, you should mentally magnify it five times and see if you can live with it, because unless you address it now it will be even more of an issue in marriage. The worst thing you can do is to ignore a red flag. Stinginess, a hot temper, laziness, a roving eye… these are things we see snippets of in courtship, and sweep under the carpet or turn a blind eye to. And that’s a recipe for disaster.
Identifying red flags isn’t enough. Are you being honest with your expectations of your marriage in general, and your intended spouse in particular? That’s the second question you should ask, and answer. Have you discussed your expectations? You want to be sure that you can meet each other’s needs. It would be a tragedy to spend your life bending over backwards and contorting yourself into alien shapes just to meet up to someone’s expectations, when you could have married someone who loves the person that you are and craves what you carry. This honesty also includes being open about your intellectual, spiritual, sexual, emotional and financial needs. Know what’s a “must have” and what’s a “good to have”. Be truthful about what you can live without. Few people ever meet that 10/10 soul mate, so this is not about that. Just don’t pretend that you’re okay with what’s missing, only to start chasing after it outside your marriage.
A third question in this tiny, far from exhaustive list, is this: am I carried away by physical attraction or paying it too little attention? Physical attraction is powerful, and can blind you to things you should see. This is a very old story. For centuries people have been pulled in by the physical attributes of their love interests, helplessly sucked in by chemistry, only to find they had made a terrible mistake and had no business being with this person. You must make sure you’re seeing your intended very clearly, and that they see you very clearly too. On the flip side, inasmuch as physical attraction is not everything, it is a necessary ingredient in a healthy marriage. Even if you’re abstinent, your physical passion for each other should be strong enough that you need to actively restrain it. Someone who never wants to touch, hold, kiss or be otherwise physically intimate with you, isn’t someone you should consider marrying. Many people have mistaken this for spirituality and ended unknowingly up as beards for gay people, or found themselves frustrated in a sexless marriage. If they aren’t thirsting for you, you need to take a closer look.
Yes, there are no guarantees to this marriage thing. But there’s no denying that it is best entered into with eyes wide open.