Relationships 101: Is Getting Married Too Easy?


Getting to "I Do" almost seems too easy, writes Lisa Duffy

Popular wisdom on what the answer to the problem of divorce in our society these days is to make it harder to get divorced. I’ve always said and emphatically believe that it shouldn’t be harder to get divorced. It should be harder to get married.

Men and women are looking for “the one” and hoping for a relationship that will last a lifetime. This is precisely what marriage is all about, and it’s a great thing when this happens.

But preparing for marriage is so much more than planning the wedding, choosing a place to live, talking about natural family planning and discussing how to blend financial situations. It is understanding what kind of foundation makes a relationship last. It’s not all about how he or she can make me happy.

Life is good, but it’s not always happy and there’s no perfect marriage no matter how blissful the dating and engagement are. We are not perfect human beings and we all have our faults.

I can think of some great questions that don’t get attention in marriage preparation like they should, such as this:

“How can you have arguments and discuss topics that make you angry and emotional in such a way that you both can still emerge from the debate as a loving couple, a united front?”

Or, “When there’s no money, no job, hungry children and pressure from creditors, how will you work together to maintain peace and love in the family?”

Here’s one I’d love to see as a standard marriage prep point of discussion: “Write down five things you will commit to doing on a daily basis to make your spouse feel loved and why you think he/she will feel loved by it.”

It’s so important to know as much as you can about the person you are in a serious relationship with or engaged to – OK, even in the early stages of a relationship it’s important – because knowledge of each other and the ability to see if you are a good fit for each other greatly decreases the chances of divorce. (Unfortunately, many couples out there believe you must live together first to have that kind of visibility, but I disagree.)

Discussion – intimate discussion and lots of it – about who you are and what you’re about is key because it’s a habit you’re going to need to nurture and continue in order to have a strong and lasting relationship in the future, no matter what your age, background, or whether this is your first marriage or third.

Something else to consider is what kind of upbringing the person you are dating has had and did they have a realistic model of a good marriage from his or her parents?

I remember filling out my annulment questionnaire and reading some of the questions that made me say to myself in dismay, “Why didn’t anyone point these things out to me before? I never would have gotten married to him!”

These questions really made me stop and think about what little consideration I gave to some very big clues that indicated we were not prepared as a couple for marriage. One big warning sign was that my ex-husband came from a broken home and saw a very twisted version of what marriage is. This didn’t make him entirely unsuitable for marriage, but it did make us both unsuitable for marrying at that time.

He needed counseling to talk through his family hurts and understand what he would be committing to when we married, while I needed to understand that I couldn’t fix him. There was also so much important discussion about our own expectations of what our marriage would be that never happened. I was more concerned about the “show” that would take place and he was more concerned about the “party” that would take place.

I offer these suggestions to you out of love, simply because I know you hold great hope in your heart for a happy and lasting relationship. I do hope that is what you find, and when you do, that you will spend many hours discussing the things that are most important so when you stand on the altar, you will experience a happiness and a joy you never thought possible. Count on my prayers for your success.






23 Comments

  1. Allison-565208 December 29, 2011 Reply

    As someone who has experienced a failed marriage and is going through the annulment process, I can say for sure that getting married in the church is WAY too easy. Our “marriage prep” (I put it in quotes because it was so pathetic) was completely inadequate. We were rushed through the “requirements” as if it was just some sort of checklist to complete, rather than it being tools to really help us discern if we should even be getting married in the first place. Leading up to our wedding day, I was filled with doubt and anxiety and was hoping and praying that somewhere in our “prep” someone would notice all our issues and suggest we reconsider or at least postpone things. Nothing like that ever happened, and I definitely feel like our poor marriage prep is *partially* to blame for our divorce.

  2. Paul-160366 December 29, 2011 Reply

    Way to take a hatchet to your ex Lisa in public without him being able to defend himself. Another CM editorial great. This website stinks.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy December 30, 2011 Reply

      Paul – Although that was not my intention at all, I see your point and apologize if I offended you. My ex-spouse and I have had conversations in the recent past regarding this, so I wasn’t trying to insult him or anyone, but lay out some plain truths. I certainly also could have included my contributions to being ill-prepared as well. I appreciate your comment.

  3. Elizabeth-753085 December 31, 2011 Reply

    Thank you for writing this.. I too have thought the same since my divorce. It is something that cannot be rushed into. if any doubt it will not go away at the alter it will only come back in the marriage.
    Thanks for giving everyone some items to think about.

  4. Paul-709408 December 31, 2011 Reply

    First, I see no bitterness here but a well-written reflection article. Second, I personally believe it should be 100% the couple’s responsibility to prepare themselves, discuss, and verify they are ready for marriage–no excuses. Conversely, I do of course feel marriage prep will no doubt give me much more to consider than I would think about on my own and is a major necessity while discerning marriage. It sounds as though there is considerable room for improvement in the marriage prep process! (Of course, can we ever be consider EVERYTHING?) I wonder how standard the marriage prep in the Church really is, and if it is much better than other, particularly secular marriage prep courses, that scares me). Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts, I hope it helps others and I hope I haven’t offended anyone here.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 1, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for your comments, Paul. I don’t want to scare anyone but in a way, I do. I don’t want anyone to go through the horrific pain and devastation of divorce like I did. I’ve been remarried for almost 12 years now, very happily so and I believe the annulment process made it possible for me to enter into my second marriage with open eyes and complete honesty. But my point is, it shouldn’t take a divorce and annulment for someone to find happiness. Marriage prep should encapsulate all that is necessary to make a marriage last the first time. God bless!

      • Mari-611004 January 3, 2012 Reply

        Good point Lisa. Thanks for sharing these important ideas. God bless

  5. Jim-397948 December 31, 2011 Reply

    I wish getting married was easy…these days I think it is like land an aircraft on an aircraft carrier!!!!!

  6. Stephen-725391 January 1, 2012 Reply

    Lisa Duffy has been a God-send in understanding how to handle the divorce and why it is necessary (even though by the Bishop’s own stats only 15% of divorced Catholic seek an annulment) to go through the annulment process. I believe that Lisa wears rose-colored glasses when speaking of the church and it’s handling of annulments. I will not go into the details of my divorce except to say I did not leave nor did I institute the divorce action. I went into the annulment process with ‘child like belief’ (the best I could manage as I’m a lawyer) and bared my soul. I did this after being advised by a Dominican parish pastor that annulment should be available to me. I knew the facts to sustain the annulment and I FOUND the statement of St. Augustine that NAILED it to the church door. But because I did not publish it to 4 witnesses 40 years ago, I am told that it just isn’t good enough – can you come up with witnesses to say what is necessary (I’ll leave that to your own determination, my advocate didn’t think it said what I thought it said – I’ve just practice secular law for 30 odd years – so go figure. The church DID NOT represent God as the third partner to this putative marriage, yet the church will not acknowledge it’s FAILURE (something akin to the alter boy scandal) in this marriage. With that said – the question “Is getting married is too easy?” NOW, the church has been around for 2000 years, plenty of time to have this down pat and it still doesn’t get it! It’s getting the church to acknowledge that failure and do something about it, not just tell those they fail – tough, you can’t get married again – it’s like the Dominican told me – If you don’t get satisfaction from the church, you got to do what you think is right because in the end it’s -Between you and God!

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 1, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Stephen, and your comments about my rose-colored glasses are fair enough. I am not a lawyer and know that I am speaking from my own experience, primarily. But I believe even though there are those that abuse the system (or get in the way of it), that doesn’t negate the validity of the process and I would like people to have the opportunity to find peace and closure. I am truly sorry for your frustrations over this matter and will keep you and your intentions in my prayers.

      • Stephen-725391 January 2, 2012 Reply

        Lisa, thank you. I am truly happy that you found happiness and that you have shared it with all of us out here. Yes there is a valid purpose to the process, but when those who judge the facts refuse to acknowledge their contribution to the failure – where is the transparency (an over worked word these days) in the process? Stephen

    • Tanya-764623 January 4, 2012 Reply

      Stephen-
      Sorry to hear the church’s handling of your annulment has caused frustration, pain, and sadness for you. If you attempted to handle things according to the church’s rules, and they did not grant your annulment, I would not continue to suffer because of this. You can still love and trust God……and seek what makes you happy! Get married again if you wish……just do it outside of the Catholic church! Don’t let this craziness stop you from living your life!

      • Lisa Duffy
        Lisa Duffy January 4, 2012 Reply

        Dear Tanya,

        It’s nice to see other CM members such as yourself reaching out to those who are having a difficult time. You must have many friends that love you for this quality!

        To be truly happy in a second marriage, spouses need to be completely free to give themselves to each other. The only problem with marrying outside the Church in Stephen’s situation is that he is not free to do this and would not be able to receive the sacraments if he did so. That is important to some people and not to others and I don’t know for sure what Stephen’s preference is on this but it’s a serious consideration.

        - Lisa

  7. Alexandra-549295 January 1, 2012 Reply

    Lisa, you are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and speak words of wisdom, everyday I enjoy more and more your articles… “Getting to the person we are with, accepting that we are both different and we have to become one, respecting each other’s grounds” easy to say…so difficult to do it, in every day bases, but not impossible, if there is love.. I keep praying Lisa .. I just keep praying : ) Thanks again, God bless you.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 1, 2012 Reply

      Thank you, Alexandra! Trust God, He will bring you all that you need and all that will make you happy.

      • Stephen-725391 January 2, 2012 Reply

        Lisa, just so you know – I believe that also. I have had enough proof of that even through the last 13 odd years has been a downward spiral. At 62, I’d just like to have some happiness and joy before their is no ability to enjoy it. I guess I just have this problem of keeping my spirit up. Stephen

  8. Joann-451185 January 2, 2012 Reply

    Really liked this article wish i could\ send it to my son who is getting into his2nd marriage.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 2, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Joann, I will pray for your son.

  9. Albert-146514 January 12, 2012 Reply

    I will be frank ; the extraordinary responsibilities and commitments in marriage that one must accept and honor without complaints and objections has prevented me from marrying.

    In marriage , the happiness , well-being , and welfare of others , wife and children , depends entirely upon you , and it is indeed an awesome and daunting obligation. It is taxing , stressful , and difficult, both emotionally and financially, for all of us.

    I have failed to marry , but I have not failed at marriage because I fully understand the extensive responsibilties marriage imposes on a person , and I don’t have , sad to say , the emotional will and sense of purpose to accept them.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 19, 2012 Reply

      Dear Albert,

      Thanks for your comment. I beg to differ on the point that it’s all up to you and on your shoulders… it takes two people to make a marriage work, not one. I have seen first-hand that the joy that comes from being married far out-weighs the stress of any problems a couple encounters. I do hope that if my article has only made you feel more stressed about marriage, that you will forgive me and that at some point you will trade your worries about marriage for the joy and happiness of a lasting marital relationship.

      • Stephen-725391 January 21, 2012 Reply

        Lisa,

        It is not so much the HARSH penalty exacted upon those of us who are caught in the abysmal failure of the Church to evaluate and deny church marriage, to have available in a timely manner resources to which those married in the church can turn before it is irretrievable, to have a uniform and understandable and transparent (over worked term these days) marital policy across the board for pre, during and post marriage. This (comment) may be entirely due to the absolute isolation I feel and have experienced regarding any dealings with this matter (divorce and annulment). I am absolutely happy that your life was returned to you – but deep in the back of my being resides this: yep, you got your happiness back, but I don’t see anything but emptiness and gray. Sorry, Stephen

      • Stephen-725391 January 21, 2012 Reply

        PS
        So that you know, I really can’t DO anything (secular or church) until my liquidity (financial) issue is resolved (power, which corrupts, has impeded this for years). I have enough experience to know when I’m getting rope – a – doped, and I got that feeling big time with this Tribunal, generally with this annulment process. The minute I told my advocate that I had a free 30 minute consultation with a real canon lawyer (the group I found on line) and in that 30 minute really bad cell connection conversation found out more about the petition and grounds and the (my word) gotchas, I was thrown under the bus. During the time I practiced law 24+ years, I never threw anyone, even the biggest jerks (and I rarely got my fee from them) under the bus. I have personally know only ONE man who was a judge that was not corrupted by the power of the office, he resign 18 months after he was elected because of that insidious corruption. Men are men, regardless of secular or religious and a judge is a judge with power, secular or religious. You said it – God allows free will to rein which is a good thing and when bad things happen to other because of it, God works even that for your best – so that goes to the Dominican’s advice to me – if you don’t get satisfaction from the church – do what you are going to do because in the end it’s between you and God.
        St. Louis du Montafort (sp?) said something like this – There are many paths to Heaven, I am showing you the straightest (his veneration of the Blessed Virgin and her rosary).
        I would truly like to have this matter resolved in a timely manner by the Church and I will take it through the process with an eye to prudence.
        Stephen

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