There are so many divorces these days that one assumes that marriage is too difficult to maintain. I disagree; in my opinion, marriages fail because...well, there are a lot of reasons, but none of them are "because it's too hard".
I by no means am a professional at anything. This post is simply and solely my own opinion.
Divorce rates in the U.S. are almost exactly 50%. Nearly half of those who get married will end up divorced. And 10% of those who divorce will do it within the first five years of marriage! Why?
My husband and I had two weddings. The first (which was our "real" wedding) was via the Justice of the Peace, yes, we eloped. This wedding was on December 2nd, 1999. Our second wedding was to satisfy my husband's Catholic family, it was done in the church on Valentine's Day. Both weddings were perfect and beautiful to us, because we are in love. But both of them were riddled with faults and issues, but we didn't care, because we are in love.
One point I have to make is that my husband and I did not date for a long period of time. In fact, we were engaged on our second date. Yup within less than two weeks we were already decided to be together forever. Now that is true love, right? Heck no! Well, what I mean is every couple is different. You can't say a short or long relationship before marriage will determine the marriage's success. Some people just know right away, others need time to settle into a relationship.
So, what is my opinion on why so many marriages fail? IMO, it is because one or both halves do not want to work with the other. Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship, not a monarchy or matriarchy, it is a 50/50 partnership. You both must be willing and able to work together! And you both must be willing and able to support each other. If even one is not willing to partner, not willing to compromise, not willing to share, then it will fall apart.
What makes marriage so easy? Hard work!...but surprisingly not difficult...if you're willing and not lazy.
There are a ton of different marriage "styles" out there: Traditional, arranged, open, same-sex, common law, mixed, etc. But they all have one thing in common that makes them work, the partners are actually willing to work together.
What are they working together on?:
First and foremost: YOU MUST COMMUNICATE! Talk to each other, listen to each other. Don't get defensive, don't play the blame game, don't be over passionate, bullheaded, or hypersensitive. Use your head when discussing important subjects.
1. Finances: Money is the root of all evil...and most divorces. If you can not agree on a way to manage your money, then you are going to fight a lot. With money problems comes stress, a lot of unnecessary stress. There are many ways to manage money in a marriage. Many married couples keep their finances separate in order to avoid marital woes because one partner can't budget or stick to one. And also because pooling money in a marriage is both an old-fashioned and religious tradition and not necessarily a common practice anymore. If you do want to pool your money, then it is usually good to have one party managing all the money but the other be allowed to know what is going on and have a say.
2. Sex: Love making is huge in marriages. You may not want it to be a largely important part of marriage, but it is. Think about it. Most marriages mean that you are having sex with only one person for the rest of your life. It better be someone who can pleasure you well, and who you can pleasure well. There are marriages where sex is OK with others, Open marriages are just that, open to multiple sexual partners. If this is an interest, it must be agreed upon with both members of the marriage.
3. Children: When most people are walking down the aisle (or preferably before they get to that point) they are looking into their partner's eyes and seeing kids in the future. Before you marry the love of your life, make sure you agree on how many kids you want, if you want kids at all! And then when the kids come along, how will they be disciplined, what kind of schools are they going to go to, religion? College?
4. Friends: We all have friends, then we fall in love and meet our partner's friends. Many a relationship has fallen apart because one partner can't accept one or more of their partner's friends from before the relationship. Maybe it is jealousy, maybe it is a control thing, maybe it is disapproval of the influence this person has. It could be anything, but remember, they were friends before you met, if you can't accept the love of your life just the way they are and with all the "strings" attached, this is a real sign of issues.
5. Religion and Politics: Do you and your partner share the same religion? Are you both with the same political party? If you are then make sure you can agree on a church and how you are going to tithe and celebrate holidays, etc. If you are the same political party, let's hope this also means you agree on most of the same political stances/issues, etc. If your religion/political stances differ, talk about it and come to agreements and decisions before you get married!
6. Living Arrangements: What is your dream home and where is it located? When you get married where do you and your spouse want to live? Is anyone living with you? Rent or own? House or apartment? City or country? Do you have pets? Gas or electric? Pool? Yard man or DIY? These are all potential huge fights if you don't work it out ahead of time.
7. Extended Family: Where are you going to spend the holidays? How close are you and your spouse to your respective families? How well do you get along with your partner's family?
8: Compromise: Are you both willing to make some sacrifices and compromise so that both of you can be happy? This is important because it will fail if one half is always the one to sacrifice and compromise while the other half always gets what they want. This is not love, this is abuse.
9: Work/Education: Are you both in school or working? Is one staying home to care for the domestic needs and children? This also ties in with finances. How will you pay for two college educations? Can one afford to stay home? etc.
10: Recreation: Do you both share some common interests and enjoy doing them together? Do you have no common interests, how will you handle that? Does one of you have a hobby that the other one detests? Can you stand your partners taste in music? How will you spend your vacations? Will you perhaps take separate vacations (some couples do this)?
11. Habits, etc.: Once you move in together you will be stuck having to deal with each others habits. How will you address an issue when you find your partner has a habit that annoys you? Is one of you a clean freak and the other a slob? Who does the cooking? How are the chores going to be split? Do you both eat similar diets?
12. Support: Are you both willing and able to pick up the slack if and when one of you becomes ill or injured, or loses your job, etc.? If one of you loses a family member, or goes through a tough time emotionally, will the other be able to provide adequate emotional support? Are you both able to be a cheer leader, and encourage each other to succeed? Can you be your partner's biggest fan?
13. Infidelity: Make sure you both agree on a definition of "cheating". To some people a little flirting is outright cheating. To others it's not cheating unless physical contact (kissing, hugging, sex) happens. Yet others think just looking at another person is the same as sleeping with them. So make sure you both understand what the other is OK with in this touchy area because so many relationships have ended over it.
Finally, remember that no relationship is free of disagreements, not one relationship out there is perfect. You will argue, you will disagree on things, you will hurt each other on occasion. You will have frustration and cry yourself to sleep sometimes. We are all human, even the love of your life. We all make mistakes. We are all individuals even when we are in a 50/50 relationship. Never go into marriage expecting it to be all flowers and puppy dogs, you will be sorely disappointed.
It is worth it if you both work hard at it...together.