Expectations and Intentions
Have you shared with each other what you expect married life together to be like? Have you shared what you're looking forward to? Have you dared to share any doubts or fears about it? Does that sound a bit risky? My husband and I have run marriage preparation courses and just occasionally a couple have changed their minds and postponed the wedding. It's quite rare, but surely better than going through with things if they aren't sure.
So what does change when you marry? For some there is a greater sense of security. Their husband/wife has made a public commitment for life to love them and care for them, through the difficult times as well as the good. Friends, colleagues and family see their relationship as 'official'. They belong to one another. They are no longer available for a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex.
The official bond is stronger too, bringing legal changes in their status. It's tough and painful dismantling a live-in relationship, but even harder to sort out a divorce. There's also more protection under the law for individuals, if a marriage breaks down.
If a couple live together to "see if it works", then surely there's always that hidden agenda: "are we right for each other?" Hand in hand with this goes the knowledge that if it doesn't work they can always move on. If you marry and take that step seriously, walking away will not be an option. Of course there are some unforeseen circumstances, such as violence or persistent infidelity, which may prove too much to bear.
Wondering if itís the right thing for you both should have been settled when you got engaged? If you go into marriage with the attitude that you can always get out if things don't work out, then it will be really hard to make it work, because one of the keys to a really great marriage is mutual commitment and determination to work through the difficulties. Twenty years down the line, it's been working through the difficulties that has built much of the closeness and joy we have found.
Have a great marriage!