1. It isn't an excuse to have children. Some folks are so eager to have kids that they force themselves into a relationship that isn't right for them, which benefits neither their children, nor themselves.
2. It's not a cure-all. You are still going to have problems. In fact, you are going to have even more problems because your husband's problems are about to become yours, too. Do not get married expecting a life of smooth sailing.
3. It isn't an alternative to a career. There are plenty of stay-at-home moms whose families would be lost without them. But if you're itching to get married just so you don't have to work, you may want to reexamine your priorities and make sure you're doing it for the right reason. If your husband suddenly loses his job, will you jump at the chance to help out? Or whine about how this wasn't what you signed up for?
4. It isn't something you do just because you're about to turn 30. After her divorce, my mother-in-law met the man of her dreams at age 57. If you rush into something like marriage because you're afraid no one is going to love you with a wrinkle on your face, you're selling yourself short and missing out on an opportunity to find someone you really want to wake up next to each morning.
5. It isn't a passion or hobby. Keep painting, reading and writing because marriage isn't a hobby that should replace your interests.
6. It isn't a way to ensure you're never lonely again. The best relationships are those in which you aren't co-dependent and can comfortably spend time away from one another. Whether you're married or single, you need to learn how to be in a room all by yourself and actually enjoy it.
7. It isn't a way to (finally) gain respect from your mother and father. Sick and tired of being treated like a child and think getting married will solve that issue? Guess again. A better option: Act your age and demand your parents do the same.
8. It isn't a way for you to always get your way. If you're in the type of relationship in which your partner yields to your desires most of the time, prepare to give up some of that control if you want a truly strong marriage in which both partners feel they matter.
9. It isn't a big, gorgeous ceremony and princess dress. I mean, it is those things — for one night. But getting married in order to have a wedding is like attending a baseball game so that you can eat honey-roasted peanuts. After the last peanut is gone, you'll still have to endure another 10 peanut-less hours. You had better love baseball.
10. It isn't your ticket out of debt. Before you walk down the aisle, get your personal finances in order because they are your responsibility. It isn't fair to carry your debt into your marriage and expect it to be someone else's problem.
11. It isn't a way to keep or keep up with your friends. As the wedding invitations pour in, you may begin fearing you'll be left in the dust if you don't turn yourself into a Mrs. Allow me to remind you of what you learned in junior high: If someone is a true friend, your relationship status will not matter one bit.
12. It isn't a way to get your partner to change. Your boyfriend is not going to wake up the morning after your wedding and suddenly become more grateful or less abusive. Marry a person for what they are now and not for the potential you see in him.
13. It isn't a guarantee that you'll have hot sex all of the time. With hope, the person you marry is the same person whose bones you constantly want to jump. Now. But your sex life as a married person is going to ebb and flow. Work, sickness and stress are going to get in the way of hot sex at times.
14. It isn't going to be good without effort. And when I say "effort," I mean you putting him first and putting down your book when he needs to talk. I mean you giving up some of your holidays with family so you can visit his family. You wouldn't expect to score an amazing job without getting the proper education — you can't expect to have a strong marriage unless you put aside your ego and work hard to make it that way.
15. It isn't the most important relationship you'll ever have. It's one of the most important relationships you'll ever have. But in order to achieve balance in your life, you need friends. You need your family. If you have children, they need to be a priority, too. And you need to take yourself out once in a while for a solo yoga date or manicure. If you surrender other relationships for your partner, you're going to rely 100 percent on your spouse to meet your emotional needs — and that's a very tall order he can't possibly fill.
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