There are many, many men and women who should NOT or ever marry! I came to this startling conclusion after 35 years of counseling couples before, during, and after marriage. A large number of adults simply do not have the “right stuff”; the “right spirit”; or the will for marriage. They do not have the ability to consider another before oneself because they are too narcissistic, too selfish, too self-absorbed, too self-centered, too career-centered, too sports-centered, too animal-centered, or just too immature and underdeveloped to commit to or be compassionate in marriage.
All these characteristics are indicators of the most important sin of omission! The inability to give one’s love away! That’s right, to give your love away. Instead, most of us are waiting for love, longing for love, wishing for love, and praying for love. We are not usually longing for opportunities to give our love away but rather we are seeking love, desiring love, or wishing for love. Unfortunately, we usually put conditions on love. We only want to give our love away, AFTER we have been shown love or told we are loved. But love is not a “thing” out there waiting to find us but is rather a biological and spiritual phenomenon that we give away! Giving our love away for the sheer joy of caring for and loving another IS the gift of love. It is not the return of love that makes us blissful. The return of love is the bonus prize. It is giving love away and expecting nothing in return that invites the greatest joy and the deepest and most enlightened manner of living.
Lest you think I am anti-marriage, I am not. Even after counseling numerous troubled, heart broken and suffering couples, I still believe marriage is a marvelous institution, a magnificent idea, a heart-expanding and growth-inviting experience, and I also believe a sacred covenant. To enter into this sacred and marvelous covenant between a man and a woman, I believe you must have the “right stuff” with the “right person.”
We can argue or debate that some marriages get into difficulty because the individuals married too young, had a difficult childhood, or did not have good role models. Yes, all of these things can be hindrances or obstacles to satisfying marriages. But they are not the main reasons why couples inflict pain on one another, treat each other badly, abuse, lie, cheat, or deceive. These individuals behave this way because of their inability to give their love away; to be charitable and respectful in the very purest sense and to live compassionately.
I believe the number one reason for divorce is marrying the wrong person in the first place. Yes, marrying the wrong person. And YOU yourself may be the wrong person. Once married, selfishness, on the part of one or both spouses, is the second major reason. Selfish individuals cannot fully give their love away, they are too concerned about meeting their own needs and desires and so they insist, demand, and require love.
Marriage should be reserved for those special and incredible individuals who really have the “right stuff” and the “right spirit” and are prepared to do those things that will guarantee that their marriage is successful, sacred, and bulletproof.
These are a few of my thoughts adapted from the introduction of a new book that I am writing entitled “Don’t Get Married….Unless”. I am planning (hoping) that it will be completed and published later this year, 2010. It will also include ideas about how to have a bullet proof marriage for those already married. I must thank my graduate students who some years ago encouraged me to write a book about marrying and not-marrying. So, finally, it is now a very enjoyable work in progress.
What questions do you have about when to marry, not marry? What questions do you have about how to have a bullet-proof marriage?
If you think that Don’t Get Married….Unless might be useful to you, a family member or friend, leave a comment. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available and you will have a chance to win a pre-release copy.
Stay tuned for my upcoming book on this subject, click here for the web site.
12 Responses to “Don’t Get Married….Unless!”
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[…]Don’t Get Married….Unless! | The Wright Perspective[…]…
this question is so actual. I think the same some times after meeting with prospecting farents.
Expecting a baby makes problems more complecated. when you need to think “three for one” not two for one. That makes the the difference.I think your book will interest me in my work:)
As a child, especially I believe as a young girl I have always dreamed of the fairy tale wedding. The prince charming to sweep me off my feet. As I have gotten older I realized that life does not happen that way and a single kiss cannot awaken a true love.
I do believe that love and marriage is a give and take relationship. You have to be giving of your own love, life, spirit and and self to be able to have a fulfilling relationship. Just sitting around waiting for life and or love to happen to you will not be rewarding. If someone is unwilling to give of themselves then they will be too caught up in their own life and will be unable to accept or see love in return.
I have witnessed many failed marriages throughout cousins and family friends. Often as you say people have different focuses on their lives. They become too job focused or personally focused that they are unable or unwilling to give their love to their spouse, not to say they didn’t before.
As I was reading this entry I kept thinking of a family friend who were having trouble in their marriage following their first daughter 11 years ago. 3 years later, with nothing figured out in their marriage and lives they decided to have another child believing that this would give them something to do together and make the marriage work. As soon as I heard that they were pregnant again I wanted to cry. Bringing another child into this world as a ‘fix’ to their parents’ problems isn’t the answer. And as this family discovered it didn’t work either! Now they have 2 children who have to deal with split parents and always traveling back and forth between each home. Childhood and teenagehood is difficult enough for children without the challenges of a split family.
This posting really made me think of marriage, as I have never looked at it from your perspective. I always just associated marriage with love without thinking of are they truly in love or just getting married because they are ready to start the next chapter of their lives?
Giving your love away is very interesting as I think I personally wait to find someone that cares for me before I show the affection back. I have always gone by the sayings “true love comes to those who wait” and that “love will find you when you least expect it” but both of those views illustrate how I am one of the many people waiting for love to find me. However I think you are right, why should we wait for that someone to come to us. If you care for a person let them know because they could feel the same way.
Marriage is a topic far from my mind but I really enjoyed this posting. It is a very unique way of looking at marriage, however with counselling couples I am sure you have seen many interesting marriages of people that are just not meant to be!
The main question I always think about when it comes to marriage is: what age is the “right” age to marry. You hear people talking about how a couple got married too young and that’s why they separated or got divorced, but no one talks about the older couples who don’t get married until later in life who still end up separated or divorced. Yes, younger people may not know what they want in life and perhaps the person they chose to spend the rest of their life with was in fact the “wrong” person for them, but who’s to say you could make a better decision in your 20s versus your 30s or 40s?
I think marriage takes more than just the deep love that two people have for each other, or that one person is giving away to another. I think it takes some serious thought. In my mind you could compare it to moving in with a best friend. Your friend may want a large living space and you may be all about big bedrooms. Your friend may want lots of cupboard space in the kitchen while you want more counter space. And your friend may want to have people over every night of the week when all you want to do is have quiet time. Marriage could be looked at in the same sense. Just because you want to give your love away to someone doesn’t mean that they’re right for you, nor you right for them. You may be very career-oriented, not have the slightest inclination to have children and want to travel all the time while the person you want to give your love away to more than anything is family-oriented, wants multiple kids and wants to settle down right away. I don’t understand how any amount of love, or even how much devotion you have to giving your love away, would be able to mesh two people together who were so opposite of one another. Yes, people who had such different views of life and marriage may not have fallen for each other in the first place, but what if they did? Would someone really be willing to give up what their life and their idea of marriage meant because they thought that at that time they found the “right” person? I understand the idea of compromising with people you love and care about, but I’m not sure about giving up all that for a legal document stating your relationship status is “married” and no longer “single”.
This comment makes me sound like I’m very anti-marriage, but in fact I’m not. I believe marriage is scared, but cannot be based solely on giving your love away. Love does drive the relationship to some extent, but without using some objectivity, you could find yourself stuck in a dead-end relationship and one day realize that no love is traveling either way.
This is a very interesting posting, with a perspective that is not often shared, but I appreciate it. I had never thought about the fact where you must give love away in order to receive the love you might have been busy seeking. However, in order to receive the love you had been seeking, you must first stop seeking. It’s very interesting. In reflecting upon my parents’ marriage, I can see many examples of giving their love away, however I also see some of the flaws that you discussed, such as career-oriented. I do not believe that being career-focused, or animal focused or any one of these flaws is going to kill a marriage. I believe that couples may go back and forth in regards to who is career-oriented before the kids are born and who is career-oriented after. Or who has to be career-oriented in order to keep the family together and achieving dreams that are important. Both of my parents at many different points in their marriage have been, to stick with the example, career-focused. Right now my father is still career-focused. It may not be necessarily by choice but I know it’s tough on my mom as it is. However, she supports him with this and I do believe that she has given her love away regarding this issue and supported my father. My mother, on the other hand, had to be self-absorbed for awhile due to an illness where she was unable to support my father in household tasks or helping out with us kids. In this instance, he gave his love away to her and did what he had to do. I do believe that at every point in a marriage there will be times when one spouse is self-this or self-that but the fact that they HAVE given their love away allows the spouse that period of time that they need to have those ‘flaws’ . I believe the give and the take is what makes a marriage work- because I don’t believe that both people could give their love to each other and not have points of needing to focus on themselves or other things in order to support their marriage and their family.
This posting has provoked many thoughts and ideas about marriage and what it really takes to be in a good relationship and even more so a marriage. After witnessing close family friends go through a divorce this past year, I could not agree more with the idea of giving away your love and needing to be selfless in a relationship for it to truly work. Many people are simply waiting for that “feeling” we associate with falling in love and the personal satisfaction of feeling love. However, many are unwilling to give that kind of love, and often relationships suffer for this reason.
I understand being unable to commit to that kind of love if one has serious ambitions, or to pursue their dream career, however, many try to have it all and do not admit that they often can’t do both immediately. People begin to spread themselves much too thin, and as a result, their relationship is the thing that suffers. They feel the short term gain of success in their immediate accomplishments, however, may not be able to see that perhaps their greatest accomplishment is the ability to love someone unconditionally and selflessly.
I think that everyone is capable of committing to the right person in the right way, it just takes time and maturity to recognize that this has the potential to be the most intensely satisfying experience one can endure.
I completely agree with your posting. I have never thought of marriage the way you have described it, but it is exactly that. Each spouse needs to give away their love, yet seek nothing in return. If love is returned, then it will bring great joy and happiness.
Some people do not know how to just give away their love. Like you said, they are always seeking for it and never willing to give it away. I suppose these are the people who you believe don’t have the “right stuff.”
However, I do believe everyone does have the “right stuff” for marriage. The only problem is not everyone finds the person they are meant to be with to give their love away. Many people get caught up in their working lives, or people get caught up in dead-end relationships and are no longer seeking to give their love away. As you stated in your blog, to make things work you must have the “right stuff with the right person” and I couldn’t agree any more.
I am not married; however I do believe that the fuel that makes marriage run smoothly is love. If one or both spouses in the marriage are selfish and is no longer giving away their love, the relationship is headed in a downward motion. A relationship is a two way street. It needs love coming from both directions to work properly.
Great post and such a great website!! I agree with you for the reasons of divorce. In my opinion, the more self-less both people in the marriage are, the happier the couple! I heard a quote once that goes something like this: “before you get married, make sure it’s the right person. After marriage, make the person right” meaning, marriage is a commitment, and you need to work at it. It seems like there are too many people who aren’t willing to do that. I am always looking for ways to be a better spouse…I can’t wait to read your book!
Very interesting perspective on a successful marriage. I never looked at it that way before. One thing I did learn over the years between my marriages to the same man, I had to learn to like myself before I could give my love to someone else and share my life with him.