What should people know and do before getting married to lessen the chances of divorce? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
- Be good friends. Don't marry a stranger and hope you'll become compatible over time. Start with a solid foundation of love, shared values, common interests, and trust.
- Don't expect your partner to change. People do change, but not in predictable ways. So if your partner has a drug problem, assume he'll always have one. Suppose you're marrying someone with a drug problem, not someone who will, with time, stop taking drugs, and ask if you can live with that. If she doesn't want children, assume she'll always not want children. If he has a temper, assume he'll always have a temper.
- Communicate consistently and communicate about everything. If you have a big secret in your life that you're not comfortable sharing with your partner (a fetish, a crime you committed, a friend you betrayed), this will likely cause problems down the road. Get it out into the open, now, and lay down a foundation of honesty. Fart in front of your husband. Tell your wife about your latest poo.
Sometimes people say, "I woke up one day and my husband was a stranger." But he didn't become one overnight, even if it seems that way. People change gradually. It only feels like they change quite suddenly when they don't continually talk. If your wife is slowly becoming depressed or dissatisfied, it shouldn't take you by surprise. You should know about all the stages, through constant talk. There should be many, many opportunities for intervention.
Make sure you can honestly discuss sex, money, children, in-laws, careers, politics, and religion. These are the contentious subjects that can drive uncommunicative couples apart.
- Value partnership. If this isn't a high value for both of you, you're in trouble. If you have lots of "deal breakers" or if, whenever there's a problem, you think, "Should I stay or should I go?" that's a red flag. Your marriage will have a better chance of success if you're both committed to fixing problems and if you both think of all problems as shared problems.
- Work on projects together. Collaboration is one of the primary forms of human communication. It's a kind of social glue. Try to find hobbies you both like doing together
- Play together. I don't mean Chess, Monopoly, or baseball. I mean have tickle fights, or chase each other around the home; or roll around in the mud, together. Playing around is another social glue. You need to lose all dignity around each other habitually.
- Marry someone who has intimacy needs that match yours. Marriages can work between joined-at-the-hip couples, and they can also work between highly independent couples. But it's hard to sustain a marriage between a clingy person and a standoffish one.
- Have sex multiple time before you get married. Make sure you're sexually compatible.
- Live together for at least a year before you get married. Make sure you're compatible roommates.
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