THE BLOG

Would You Try to Stop a Marriage Trainwreck From Happening?

17/12/2014 04:21 GMT | Updated 15/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Fashion designer Stella McCartney allegedly tried to tell her dad Sir Paul not to marry Heather Mills. By all accounts, Stella wasn't at all subtle about what she really thought of his then wife-to-be. But he wouldn't listen and the rest, as they say, is history. And expensive.

How many people have you just 'known' were going to marry the wrong man or woman? But did you take them aside before their big day and quietly ask if they were 'sure' they were marrying the right person? Girl-to-girl, this is code for "You must be NUTS marrying this guy. He's a cheating, unreliable jerk." Or man-to-man, did you simply tell him point-blank "This woman is BAD news. Don't marry her. She will wreck your life."

If you are divorced (there are a lot of us about), did family members or friends, quietly confide to you after the divorce was finalised that they, (and quite a few of your other friends) had had their doubts and reservations about your chosen husband/wife and felt the marriage wouldn't last.

And do you just wish they'd spoken up before it was too late? Probably.

Over coffee, I was told of a woman who was thinking about dumping her boyfriend. "He says he loves me, but he's a bit boring." She said. About six weeks later she excitedly told her friend that he'd proposed to her and was now engaged and was so super-excited about the wedding etc.

I asked whether my friend had told her what she thought and why this wedding was probably not a good idea. No she hadn't. "But why?" I asked. "I could have been wrong." was her answer. Hmm. It got me thinking.

A few months later I commissioned some 'proper' market research to find out why friends and family speak up or remain silent if they thought someone was making a poor marriage decision.

With a healthy sample size of 1,231 adults, a staggering 88% said they wouldn't say a thing!

The reasons given for the silence were:

• I do not think it is my place (61%)

• You cannot know their relationship (52%)

• I could be wrong (42%)

• I would be worried about upsetting them (31%)

• I would be worried about losing a friend (23%)

This is clearly a case of something even your closest friends won't tell you. With more than 50% of marriages failing in just about every western society, it's fairly clear that our ability to make the right marriage choice is particularly poor.

Let's take 'romance' out of the equation for a moment.

When anyone is looking to buy a business, he or she would conduct 'due diligence' to ensure that the existing owners are telling the truth about all aspects of that business. If someone is paying millions, they don't want any unpleasant surprises after the sale has been concluded.

Business owners have a variety of legal obligations and responsibilities. In law, a marriage is a business partnership too, governed by a set of laws with far-reaching consequences, as anyone who has had to split marital assets will tell you. As thoroughly unromantic as this is, conducting due diligence about your relationship and the history, attitudes, beliefs and aspirations of each party could be lifesaving for both participants.

A "Due-Diligence Marriage Checklist" was created which addresses many of the factors that can determine the ultimate success or failure of a marriage:

• Mutual expectations of marriage

• Marital roles (eg work, household duties, parenting)

• Attitudes to having children

• Mental and emotional health history

• Sexual health history

• History of sexual abuse

• Criminal record. Arrest history. Domestic violence.

• Drug use (prescribed or recreational)

• Attitude to money and debt history

• Who has 'hurt' you and what did you do about it?

• Attitudes to trust, honesty and loyalty.

• What would each of you actually contribute to a marriage?

Are any of these topics 'difficult'? Absolutely yes. And that's the point.

Is it foolproof? No.

But what if it stopped just one bad marriage from happening? Wouldn't that be worth it?

Who knows, if Sir Paul McCartney had conducted this due diligence, he could have saved himself a lot of grief.

You can download and share the full attitudes to marriage research and the due diligence checklist from here.

Or perhaps you'd rather stay silent.

Roy Sheppard brings people together as a specialist conference facilitator. He is also the author of numerous relationship and self-help books. Most recently "Free Happiness for All Young Women" and "Success and Happiness for Young Men" which are currently free to download from http://www.youngadultlifeguides.com