Signs You May Need to Rethink Your WeddingOctober 30, 2019
Sometimes the match is not made in heaven…
Over the past several weeks, two stories appeared in the press which caught my eye. The first involved a prospective groom who sexually molested one of the bridesmaids the night before the wedding. The other involved a Texas groom who robbed a bank the day before his wedding to pay for the ring and venue. While the stories are interesting in and of themselves, what I found truly surprising, the weddings went on as planned the day after these occurrences! Surely, the behavior of both of these men should have given the potential brides pause to reconsider whether they were making the right life decisions. I was discussing these stories with some of my colleagues and asked them what would be sufficient reason for them to decide that a marriage should not move forward. I must admit I was surprised by not only the list of red flags that they came up with but also, and maybe more so, by how much has changed since I got married.
To put the comments and my thoughts in perspective, I need to disclose that I am over 70, while the colleagues with whom I was speaking were between the ages of 26 and 34. One other was slightly over 40. Some were married. Others were not. Those who were married were relative newlyweds when compared to my 50 plus years of marriage. Oh, and by way of full disclosure – all are women. So these flags are all from the female perspective although I suspect that many of their male counterparts in the same age range would agree with much of the list. With those caveats in mind, here’s the list, in no specific order of importance.
Baby Mama Drama
This had to be defined for me. The reference pertains to a prospective spouse who has children from a previous relationship. (I would have said from prior marriage but my age is starting to show.) The point was that marrying into a ready-made family is trouble and should be avoided. Even if you love the man and love his children the drama of a blended family is just too much.
Once a cheat – always a cheat was the consensus of my colleagues. If it happens once, be forewarned, it will happen again. Don’t think you are the exception to this rule. Cut your losses and move on.
If you learn that the person you are considering walking down the aisle with has a boatload of debt, call off the wedding. Hopefully, you will learn of this debt well before the wedding day but no matter when you learn of it, a massive amount of debt, and for that matter a poor credit rating, are signs of trouble ahead.
An interesting exception to this rule are student loans. Student loans, per my group, are not in the same category as other forms of debt. The view was – everyone has them!
Financial matters, in general
If your prospective spouse is secretive about financial matters and will not discuss his/her asset and liability picture with you, beware. Operate on the legal evidentiary principle of “adverse inference”. If someone will not provide information, the requestor is entitled to take this an indication that the information, if provided, would be unfavorable. Full disclosure from both parties is a must.
The other red flag is a prospective spouse who, during the relationship prior to marriage, is controlling when it comes to financial affairs. Both joint and separate. This will only get worse after marriage.
Abuse – physical or mental
How you are treated prior to marriage will not change and will certainly not improve after marriage. If your partner is abusive toward you or has a history of abuse of others, be safe not sorry. The dynamics will not change. And remember emotional abuse is every bit as bad, and sometimes worse, than physical abuse. Don’t go there!
Prospective spouse’s relationship with family and friends
Proceed with caution if your intended is estranged from his/her family. There may be a valid reason for the estrangement but investigate the situation and don’t just assume that the family is the sole reason for discord. And remember, even if the estrangement is valid, it can become a cause of problems between you and your spouse. It can be very trying to always deal with the two of you against everyone else. Like it or not – you will have to deal with your partner’s family on some level and it is easier if you can at least tolerate them.
Addiction or addictive personalities
Drugs, alcohol, dependencies of any and all types can be problematic. Certainly, prior to entering into marriage, the extent of the problem and the treatment your prospective partner received or is currently undergoing should be revealed and discussed at length to be sure you understand what is expected of you and what you will face dealing with an addictive personality. Consider counseling with an expert in the area before committing.
The following surprised me.
Since the country has become so divided, it is becoming increasingly important for each party to, at a minimum, be aware of the others political philosophy and for that matter with the positions of the families in general. If you are at political extremes, this needs to be discussed and factored into your decision about marriage. Can you both compromise so that the issue does not lead to a permanent rift.
Race and Sexual Orientation
While I am embarrassed to admit that when I married 50 years ago, this would have been a major issue. It was great to hear my young colleagues say that neither factor would be a concern or even a consideration. However, they did point out that these might be issues for older family members (grandparents or older).
This is the one that most surprised me. When I married, religion was certainly a consideration and I would say a major consideration. My colleagues did not mention religion in our discussion so I raised it with them. “What about religion?” I asked. Blank stares. They had not even thought about religion as an issue. It is just not on the radar!
Cohabiting prior to marriage
I realize that lots of folks cohabit prior to marriage but I was surprised that my colleagues not only found it acceptable but essential. Everyone felt that you need to know if you can live together before you marry and the way to find that out is to live together before marriage. The consensus was that couples should live together for at least a year to see if they are compatible and to deal with some of the issues raised above.
We also recognized that no matter how careful you try to be, bad marriages happen and we had lots of thoughts and advice on this matter also. But enough for now. Tune in next month for our thoughts on when and how to end a bad marriage.
Sandy believes that the law is a great profession for women, offering intellectual challenges, as well as the opportunity to work with great people. She loves helping people through the most troubling periods of their lives and bringing their issues to a solid resolution. Sandy also enjoys the many facets of family law that make it infinitely interesting. She sees these aspects as puzzle pieces that she must fit together – from taxes and small businesses to trusts and estate work, future planning and much more – Read Full Bio