“Love conquers all.” But does it … really? It’s a sweet phrase that we like to put on posters and hang in our kitchens and even preach from our pulpits, but there’s a problem. It isn’t true.
Love doesn’t conquer all, and we see that evidenced by the disastrous divorce rates both inside and outside of our church. Today, most men and women go into marriage with high hopes, but little to no preparation, and end up struggling through the pain of an unhealthy, dysfunctional, even catastrophic situation.
Marriage is not an easy journey, and when the rubber meets the road, those who go into it ignoring warning signs will always reap the harsh reality of the seeds they’ve sown. And notice, that’s not an “if,” it’s a “when.”
The thing about marriage is, it’s not something we take lightly, though we live in a culture that may think so. Staying married isn’t optional. It’s a binding covenant made between two people and the Lord, in which we’re given the responsibility and privilege of choosing a partner for life. And so it’s up to no one but us to make sure we choose well.
As a professional counselor, I’ve worked with far too many broken individuals and have endured one too many heart-breaking counseling sessions not to ask you graciously to rethink your decision to get married if you or your fiance exhibit any one of the following signs:
You’re having major, recurring, obsessive doubts
When it comes to love, almost every single person will have a doubt at some point in their relationship. It’s normal to have moments of doubt, to get cold feet every once in a while, and to feel a little nervous when it comes to thinking through the potential of lifelong marriage. But in a healthy relationship, time will always decrease doubts and fears. As time passes, the level of doubt and fear should not increase, but decrease. As you see your partner’s traits and qualities slowly unfold, the right relationship will move you into peace not panic.
If you’re having constant, recurring, obsessive doubts it’s a signal that either something is wrong in the relationship, or something is wrong within yourself. Maybe it’s your personal past or baggage holding you back and causing you fear (see point #5), or maybe there’s something going on in the relationship that’s continually causing you to rethink your decision. But either way, recurring, constant doubts are never something you should ignore.
You’re caught in patterns of unhealthy conflict and communication
I always say that communication is the lifeline of a relationship. Your words are a pathway into your soul, and being able to connect on a daily basis is an important part of marriage. If you find yourself in a relationship where communication doesn’t come easy, and where things tend to escalate into unhealthy patterns of unresolved arguments and unhealthy conflict, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself if this is really something you want to commit to for the rest of your life.
You see continued signs of major character flaws
In my book, True Love Dates, I explain that in a healthy relationship perfection is not the goal, but rather, perspective. But there are times in a relationship when things are actually FAR from perfect. If you’re in a relationship in which you’re seeing patterns of unhealthy behaviors emerge, there’s a good chance these behaviors are going to stick around for the long haul. Things such as dishonesty, rage, infidelity, addictions, and the like are patterns that point to a deeper issue. Without a doubt, these things need to be dealt with and overcome before you should ever enter into marriage.
Your most trusted friends and family are giving you repeated warnings to rethink your decision
When it comes to relationships, oftentimes we’re blinded by love. There could be flaws and red flags that we don’t see because our emotions are leading the way. But an important component to a healthy marriage is having a supportive community: people who love you, believe in you, and support your relationship. Friends and family often see things that we’re blind to. So if you find yourself in a relationship in which your friends and family aren’t on board, I would highly suggest you take their feedback into consideration. Invite some trusted people to speak into your life, and then take the time to listen to what they’re saying before you move forward.
You have significant emotional or psychological baggage that you’ve ignored in your personal life
Like I said before, none of us are perfect. We all have habits and hangups that we’re dealing with and trying to move away from. But there are some issues that are more severe than others and can actually get in the way of a healthy relationship. If you find that your past baggage, or current habits, sins, and struggles are getting in the way of your ability to function well in a relationship, you need to take the time to work on yourself before you try and work on your relationship. In True Love Dates, I discuss the importance of “dating inward” as a significant part of the equation of a healthy relationship. Deal with your past baggage, understand your identity in the present, and cast a vision for your future. Because you will always attract a relationship that’s on YOUR level of psychological and emotional health.
This article originally appeared at True Loves Dates. Used here with permission.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.