For someone who has fallen in love, you know the feeling - fluttering heart, excitement at seeing the person, non-stop thoughts about being together. Love is like a high - thrilling and exhilarating, making everything else in life seem irrationally wonderful. All the sudden your irritating co-worker seems less annoying and maybe even kind of funny, your mundane daily tasks less boring, your future career prospects more promising. The object of your love seems to bring more colour and radiance to your life, making the future seem brighter. Everything seems better when you're in love and, with your partner at your side, you feel like there isn't anything you can't conquer or overcome.
So... is this a good enough reason to marry?
Well marriage, on the other hand, is serious business and takes the deliberate and careful merging of two lives together; not to mention that it's meant to last forever. Unlike love, which is a feeling and can seem to happen overnight at an instant shot of cupid's arrow, marriage takes planning, organizing and constant communicating by partners. Love is an individual experience (as many know who have experiences unrequited love) and can happen blindly, but marriage requires the input and effort from both people involved.
To have a happy and sustainable marriage, partners need to share similar values, understanding of life and future intentions; one can't want to live in Spain while the other in Iceland or one can want children while the other doesn't. Love, while it could include these components, doesn't necessarily require any of these things; many have heard the old adage "opposites attract". You can fall completely in love with someone very different than you, who lives and acts in entirely different ways. In fact, this may be one of the reasons you're so attracted to your partner - he's loud and boisterous while you're shy and withdrawn; she's driven and ambitious, while you're more mellow and easy-going.
With so many seeming contradictions between love and marriage, do they even have anything to do with one another? And more importantly, is marrying for love foolish, ultimately setting you up for failure?
Maybe - ask yourself this, are you only marrying for love without taking anything else into account? If so, you might be building a shaky foundation on a feeling that can often be fleeting. Most people forget love is a feeling and like any other feeling - happiness, sadness, excitement - it can be transient. Remember the enthusiasm you experienced at getting your first job or buying a new car? How excited and joyful you felt for a while. Over time, however, the feeling slowly started to fade away. Love is a little like this, just because you have it doesn't mean it'll always stay that way. So if you're solely building your "forever" marriage on the feeling of love, you're taking a big chance.
For those of you who are romantics at heart, don't disappear. Love is important, it just shouldn't be the only factor to take into account when deciding to marry. In fact, love is a very significant component of marriage. If you've ever loved someone, you know that love helps us be a lot more patient with our partners, allows us to listen more carefully, empathise more deeply, care more sincerely. We are willing to make changes for our partner, make adjustments in our lifestyle, look at things from a different perspective, try new things and come out of our comfort zone. These are all things that are required in a happy and healthy partnership, indeed, essential in a long-term relationship like marriage.
If your considering marriage, here are a few questions that can help open a dialogue between you and your partner about marriage and your future.
What are your goals for marriage?
What do you expect of me and of you in the relationship? What'll each of our roles and responsibilities be in the relationship?
How do you envision our life together?
What does a happy marriage look like to you? What does a miserable one look like?
Love is a vital part of making the decision to marry someone, it allows us to be a better person to our partner and helps us be more committed to working things out and staying faithful to our relationship. However, it's not the only component of marriage. Before choosing to get married to someone, besides love, you need to understand each other's values, future goals, family dynamics and lifestyle. You need to work out a plan for merging each other's lives together by looking at all the parts that make up a successful marriage - finances, daily habits, personality traits, raising children - not just love. It's valuable to get these things right from the beginning, rather than wait until they come up later on as problems.