The man of your dreams has asked you to marry him. But something feelswrong. Is it the right man? The wrong dream? If you can’t put yourfinger on what’s wrong with the relationship, you better hold offputting a ring around your finger! My view is that people should havea sense of what it takes to have a happy marriage long before they getserious about a relationship, says Jeffry H. Larson, Ph.D., author ofShould We Stay Together? (Jossey Bass, 2000), a book that outlinesfactors predicting whether a marriage will work and helps readersevaluate their relationships. Many relationships failbecause people have preconceived notions of what marriage is all aboutand how they are supposed to feel about their partners based onsocietal myths like "love is all you need," "you can be happy withanyone you choose to marry." But social scientists have dispelled themyths about marriage by studying what couples must do to prepare forthe challenges that such partnerships bring. Are you ready formarriage? You want happiness? Debunk the marriage myths! It’simportant to understand how each of the myths listed in the survey canruin your chances to find marital bliss — and to know what you shoulddo to dispel them. 1. Myth: There is only one right person in the world for you to marry. Many people, said Larson, blow off all kinds of good matches becausethey are expecting some magical feeling when they meet the "right"person. But there are several people with whom you could be happilymarried — so choose carefully. 2. Myth: Don’t settle for anything less than perfection. "There are no ‘perfect’ people out there to marry," warns Larson. Hissuggestion: Choose a mate based on qualities that are most important toyou, but learn to compromise as well. 3. Myth: You should feel totally competent as a future spouse. "You always feel somewhat anxious when you are making the mostimportant decision," Larson explains. A successful marriage requirescooperation and effort by the two people, not perfection. 4. Myth: You can be happy with anyone you choose to marry if you try hard enough. "Some people may drive you crazy or burn you out, and this could leadto divorce no matter how hard you try," Larson says. "Often times,people keep thinking they are not trying hard enough and continue to domore of the same in hopes that some day the person may magicallychange." Evaluate the person’s similarities, differences, values, goalsand expectations before you commit to marry.
5. Myth: Choose a mate whose personal characteristics are opposite from your own. Marrying someone with totally different traits will lead to conflict.The traits that attracted you at first may turn you off later on!Marriages work better when the people have more in common and arewilling to compromise on their differences. 6. Myth: Being in love with someone is enough of a reason to marry. "It takes more than love to be happily married," says Larson. "Althoughromantic love is important in a relationship, marital success is basedon other factors like similar values, background, age, personalreadiness and realistic expectations. 7. Myth: Choosing someone to marry is a "decision of the heart." If your head isn’t in it, you can bet on a broken heart! Marry someoneyou love, but use your head to figure out whether the two of you sharesimilar goals, priorities and values to ensure a lasting relationship. 8. Myth: Living together will prepare you for marriage and improve your chances of being happily married. Evidence shows, Larson says, that you may get to know your partnerbetter by living with them first — but that won’t increase your chancesof being happily married. In fact, "serial cohabitators" have higherdivorce rates because they have less conventional ideas about marriage. 9. Myth: Choosing a mate should be easy. Changing s*xroles, high divorce rate, effect of inflation on family and higherexpectation for marriage make choosing a mate and marriage preparationmuch more complicated than 50 years ago. 10. Myth: Preparing for marriage just comes naturally.Nobody is born with mate-finding savvy. Preparing for marriage is alearned skill based on sound, scientific information and personalassessment, says Larson. 11. Myth: We know practically nothing about what predicts a happy marriage, so just take your chances. Social scientists have learned many things about predictors of maritalsatisfaction that can help you have a happier marriage. To do it right,you have to study, study, study!