By Roger Nygard, Filmmaker and Author
Thinking of getting married? Made a tentative wedding date? Beyond the excitement and joy of an upcoming wedding celebration, this one crucial marriage tip will help you beat the odds against marriage failure rates.
Relationship statistics have been grim for decades. Marriage rates are down to 54% in 2019 from 69% in 1960.1 The percentage of people who know how to be happy in marriage has dropped 10 points from near 70% in the early 1970s to about 60% in 2014.2
When I interviewed marriage therapist Dr. William J. Doherty (author of the book Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart) for my documentary The Truth About Marriage, he said that almost zero percent of engaged people think they are ever going to get divorced. Considering the recent divorce rates, zero is a staggering number!
He calls this “…the myth of being exceptional. Happiness is a byproduct of a life well-lived. If I choose my soulmate to make me happy, I am aiming for something that will slip through my fingers.”
I first learned a crucial marriage tip from Lawrence H. Bloom, a divorce attorney. For relationship longevity, for couples who think they are ready to get married, he suggests creating a financial disclosure AND a personal priority disclosure statement before they get married.
The “Are You Ready to Get Married Quiz” – Here’s What You Should Know.
I designed a simple “Are You Ready to Get Married Quiz” to help couples prioritize their needs and future personal goals.
You can start by asking each other these questions before marriage. (The complete list and other resources are in my relationship book The Truth about Marriage.)
- What’s the most amount of money a person should spend on a pair of shoes?
- Where do you want to be living in five years; ten years?
- Do you know what your partner thinks about watching porn?
- How many bank accounts should you have, individually and as a couple?
- Is it okay to leave the television on all night while sleeping?
- Do you prefer Ikea or antiques?
- Is it better to vent or stay calm?
- Who is do you consider to have the highest priority, your partner or your parents?
Fill out the marriage quiz, then exchange statements and discuss them together, with the goal of gauging your couple-compatibility. Then you can create a new, mutual priorities statement that you both endorse. You don’t have to agree on everything, but it helps immensely to know where you each stand.
This marriage quiz is also a reality check. You don’t want to find out later that your partner is vastly in debt, had a prior family, or your core values are irreconcilably out of sync. In another blog entry here, I discuss what core values are and how they affect couple compatibility.
#1 Relationship Killer: Manage Unrealistic Expectations Before Getting Married.
Because couples have to work as a team, it is incredibly helpful—I’d go so far as to say imperative—to have premarital counseling, to go through the process of sharing expectations for the future.
Psychologist Ty Tashiro (author The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love) said that religious couples tend to do better over time than non-religious couples because they are required to have premarital counseling. “Researchers think part of the reason [they do better] is because there is an agreed-upon set of rules and agreed-upon expectations in a relationship. So, it is not necessarily anything inherent in the religion, but just the fact that the social rules are well laid out.”
The relationship experts in The Truth about Marriage documentary all agree on the following solutions:
- Seek counseling before you get married to improve communication in any partnership.
- Couples who just hope everything will work out, without doing the advance work, have a higher probability of conflict and break up.
This Crucial Marriage Tip Will Improve Communication Before You Get Married.
Bringing up unspoken topics (like finances, children, or taboo sex, etc.) can make couples feel uncomfortable. But if you love each other and want to spend your lives together, it will make you feel good to share intimate thoughts.
One of the married couples profiled in my documentary The Truth About Marriage discussed in advance that after they got married, they would continue with open marriage dating—an atypical approach for our primarily monogamous culture.
Their open relationship marriage continues to be very high functioning because a polyamorous relationship requires them to be fully open and honest with each other about who they are, about their expectations for their open marriage, and as a result they communicated ground rules for their relationship.
Whichever type of marriage you choose, people who go into marriage with open eyes are better able to problem-solve when there are “roller coaster relationship moments” and they stand an enormously better chance of having a long-lasting, healthy, happy, successful marriage.
The funny documentary The Truth about Marriage and its companion book will help lighten your load and provide you much needed support during such unprecedented tough times when it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.