Marriage, it was once said, “is our last, best chance to grow up.” (I found this quote preparing a dear friend’s rehearsal dinner toast.) Maturity is a wonderful thing; its a prerequisite to really enjoying anything. Also, it puts in perspective all the sad, unexpected things that happen while you are married so that these events seem much more bittersweet than despairing. – Such as when you get back from your honeymoon to find that one of you has just lost their job – or your father-in-law has just entered rehab and your mother-in-law wants to move in or your spouse’s physical had some worrisome test results. In a mutually loving relationship the bad news is much less shocking and brings you that much closer; but if one party is driven by self-interest, you are on your own. Marriage can survive and flourish midst anything but selfishness.
When you are in love and on track to a life full of wedded bliss and everyone is excited about the wedding, of course no one wants to think about the disastrous course some marriages can take. No one wants to “throw cold water” on such a happy time in one’s life. However, after more than a decade in family court evaluating families from all walks of life, I can safely say that there are warning signs, that you should not ignore: a tendency to drink too much, a temper or irritability, a need to control you or others, intense anger toward one’s ex, confusing or disorienting behavior – or disrespectful behavior – or – a history of any of these in another relationship – any of these can spell serious trouble and anguish down the road. (My ebook expands on this).
It does not matter where you are in the pecking order, if you marry an unselfish, respectful person you will enjoy life to its fullest; marry a selfish person and you will be resentful, angry and depressed until you have moved on from them – To paraphrase Freud (whose offhand ideas were always more important than his central theories) – the two great life tasks are love and work. We are all human, but not bungling either too badly by being giving and intrinsically motivated, opens the door to the best their is in life.