I’ve treated innumerable couples over the years, most of whom thought they were marrying for the right reasons.
The most genuine couples were originally in love, physically attracted, emotionally and intellectually compatible, and shared ideals. They had their share of issues, but they gave themselves a fighting shot at tackling the most difficult challenge we face in life: maintaining a generally happy, healthy, long-term relationship. Consider this: how many courses on relationship theory did you take in high school or college?
Probably none, although I’m sure you took at least three math classes. Not that these aren’t valuable; they will come in handy when determining how much alimony and child support to pay.
1. I chose not to hurt my partner’s feelings: What? If you married someone because you were concerned about their feelings, how do you think they are going to feel after you have your affair, get bored of them and stop having sex, or leave them after a year or two?
2. I could not say no: Great, you are a nice person with little boundaries. Perhaps you were prettified as a child and consequentially never learned to separate your needs from the needs of others. Trust me, you will eventually say “no” to the marriage if this is the major reason you acquiesced.
3. My parents loved my partner: Well then, have your partner move in with them; you get your own place. Look, it is nice to have your parents take to your mate—it is one less complication in your relationship. But some parents are not attuned to what is truly appropriate for you or what will work. They might be thinking about financial security or grandchildren. It is great to have input when you are considering a major life decision, but ultimately you should make up your own mind.
5. I was not physically attracted to my partner, but we shared a strong religion together: Well…it better be “otherworldly,” because once you are exposed to attraction and passion you will need all the spiritual help you can get.
6. I needed the money: When we put survival ahead of attraction, passion, and shared interests, once we achieve a sense of security, the honeymoon might end abruptly.
7. My biological clock was running: Yes, but your child will need a foundation to thrive. Perhaps co-habitation would have been a better idea until the relationship stabilized.
So, the moral of the story is Sherman: Be true to who you are; to what you feel and think. Oscar Wilde wrote: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”