People get married for lots of reasons. And just because your reasons differ from someone else, that doesn’t mean they are the wrong reasons to get married. In fact, it’s fair to say that every single person has reasons that are unique to them.

That being said, this is one of the biggest decisions of your life. And while each individual’s reasons may be unique, that doesn’t mean some people don’t justify their decision with less-than-sound reasoning. This is truly unfortunate, because if you jump into marriage for the wrong reasons, it is far more likely to lead to relationship problems.

With that in mind, this post seeks to shine a light on some of the “wrong reasons to get married” that people use. If these sound like you, take a step back and really think carefully about your decision before going through with it.

5 Poor Excuses for Getting Married

It’s the next logical step. All couples are different, and there’s no right or wrong time to get married (or not). Just because you and your partner have been dating for eight years and living together for six, you shouldn’t feel pressured to get married.

Our society may make it seem like “the next step” in relationships… but that doesn’t mean it should be the next step in your relationship.

All your friends are getting married. It can be hard seeing a lot of your friends getting married. Especially if you’re still single or just casually dating.

But you shouldn’t rush down the aisle out of peer pressure. You need to be sure you’ve found someone you can actually see yourself spending the rest of your life with first.

You want to be happy. There will hopefully be plenty of happy moments during your marriage, but marriage will not make you happy. It is not a fairy tale ending, but rather the beginning of the next chapter of your life story.

And just like with every story, there are going to be high and low points in your marriage. You and your partner need to be prepared to support one another — both through the good and the bad. A good marriage requires hard work.

You want financial stability. There’s nothing wrong with wanting stability in your life. But dating someone who makes six figures or has paid off their mortgage isn’t necessarily the basis for a good union.

You’re scared of ending up alone. There’s still a lot of pressure in our society to “be with someone.”  Because of that, some people may view staying single or ending a relationship before marriage as a sign of failure.

However, that doesn’t mean you should go into a marriage because you’re scared you’ll never find anyone else. That kind of decision demonstrates a lack of self-respect — and a lack of respect for your partner.

Really Understand Your Reasons to Get Married

Think about the reasons you want to get married. Is it because you love your partner? Because you want them to be your lifelong companion? Because you want to grow with that person and be with them through the good and the bad?

If so, you’re considering marriage for the right reasons.

If you and your partner are thinking about tying the knot, consider making an appointment with me. Attending pre-marriage therapy doesn’t mean your relationship is in trouble. On the contrary, it’s a good way for many couples in healthy relationships to learn skills that will keep their partnership strong as they enter this next stage of their lives together.

Originally published 6/25/2014. Updated 3/17/2021.

 

 

Do you find it difficult to say “no” to others? Have trouble speaking up about what you want? Avoid sharing contrary opinions?

It’s possible you are engaging in “people pleasing.”

Now, people pleasing in relationships may seem like a positive thing. After all, an important part of being with someone is supporting them and making them happy. As a people pleaser, you’re doing a lot of both, right?

Maybe. But unfortunately, you are probably often doing so at your own expense. And if you continue in this vein, you could eventually lose touch with your own preferences, needs, and desires.

Worse, you might be building up a lot of silent resentment. Instead of talking about issues, you’re holding on to anger your partner isn’t even aware of – all in the name of avoiding conflict.

Over time, this unhappiness can lead to you seeking connection in someone else’s arms – or even abruptly leaving the relationship. All the while, your partner wasn’t even aware there was a problem!

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But here’s the good news: people pleasing isn’t who you are. It’s just a way that you behave. And it’s possible to get that behavior back to a healthier balance.

The Root of People Pleasing in Relationships

First, let’s talk about why people pleasing starts.

Maybe you had a parent with a strong sense of entitlement. They acted like the world revolved around them and their needs.

Alternatively, it’s possible your parent made you feel rejected. That their love was conditional. And you needed to earn it by being “good.”

To stay connected to them, you engaged in a behavior called “fawning.” Essentially, you made efforts to put their needs first. And forfeit yours. Your primary goal was to make them happy to preserve the relationship.

This helped you get through childhood. But as an adult, it turned into “people pleasing” or co-dependency.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Pleasing

The first step to moving past people pleasing is to recognize it’s a problem.

Healthy pleasing shows people that you are…

  • Kind
  • Cooperative
  • Caring
  • Helpful
  • But most importantly: boundaried

Unhealthy pleasing shows people that you are…

  • A doormat
  • Co-dependent
  • A servant
  • Or socially perfect

You are a separate, unique individual with different needs, opinions, and preferences than your partner. However, showing yourself in this way can be scary, because it means sometimes being at odds with them. It means conflict.

But you have to show yourself. And the people in your life will feel safer and more connected to you when you are able to set appropriate boundaries and share your preferences.

How to Stop People Pleasing in Your Relationship

Remember, people pleasing isn’t who you are. It’s what you are doing. And you can change your behavior. Here are a few tips.

Take care of your own needs.

Many people who engage in people pleasing give and give to the point of their own exhaustion. They are overworked, overscheduled, and overcommitted.

First, identify your needs. Then find a way to meet them. Often, this means giving up on some of your current commitments.

Check in with yourself before saying yes.

Ask yourself: Do I really want to do this? Why? Am I afraid I will lose the other person? Worried about how they will feel about me? Or do I genuinely want to help the other person?

Understand your priorities and where this request fits in.

Give yourself time to respond.

Especially at first, you may need to take time to consider your answer. Say something like, “I’m not sure if that will work. I’ll check my schedule and get back to you.” Or take a few minutes – or hours – to respond to that text or email request.

Practice saying no.

Understand that saying “no” doesn’t make you lazy or uncaring or selfish. And asserting your own needs doesn’t mean stepping on others or disregarding their feelings. It may not be an easy word to say at first, so learn to do so kindly but firmly.

Start by acknowledging the other person’s feelings or experience:

“I understand where you’re coming from,” or “I know you’re in a bind.”

Then stand up for your feelings or rights:

“…but I just don’t see it that way,” or “…but I can’t help right now.”

Start making choices. What to eat for dinner. To do over the weekend. To watch on TV at night. You can start small. But have ownership over what you prefer – and state it.

Get comfortable with conflict. It is a myth that happy couples don’t fight. Only couples where one or both partners have “checked out” don’t experience conflict – which is a bad thing.

The key is learning to navigate conflict in a healthy and productive way. That means being open and honest (but kind and respectful) about your needs, opinions, and preferences.

Seek Help If You Need It

People pleasing in relationships can cause big problems in the long run. If you’re having trouble moving past your people pleasing behavior or if you have a partner who struggles with people pleasing, consider seeking help.

In the end, you will find a deeper, happier relationship when you feel comfortable allowing your partner to see and love the whole you.

Originally Published 2/19/2018. Updated 1/13/2021.

Do you have to be right all the time? Or maybe the culprit is your partner. Or both of you. Right fighting in relationships can cause a lot of frustration and heartache.

What is it? Let’s look at an example.

What Is “Right Fighting” in Relationships?

A couple is getting ready to go to the woman’s mother’s house. Her partner is in a sour mood about how early they have to leave. He tells her the drive to her mother’s house is only 10 minutes long. She says it’s actually closer to 30 minutes. She’s trying to get them to leave at a reasonable time.

Not to be deterred, he proceeds to “prove” that she’s wrong about the time. He mentions other houses or buildings that are around the house that are a quick drive, and that rush hour will be over soon. The woman holds her ground, saying that there is no way they can get there in 10 – or even 20 – minutes.

They continue to argue over the length of the drive. And build up a lot of anger before arriving at her mother’s house.

What’s really happening is that the man is dilly-dallying about going to his partner’s mother’s house. And she’s feeling hurt and frustrated by this.

But instead of actually saying, “I feel hurt that you don’t want to visit my mother,” she focuses on the time. She’s not wrong to want them to leave early — he’s wrong about the time.

Of course, her partner shouldn’t be let off the hook either. He’s clearly looking for an excuse to put off going. But doesn’t want to admit it. Maybe even to himself.

So it becomes about them being “right” instead of honestly dealing with the situation.

This is “right” fighting.

It doesn’t usually deal with feelings or abstract ideas. A typical “right fight” could easily be solved with a quick Google search. But both partners refuse to budge.

Right fighting in relationships is not only exhausting and unproductive, it leads to more anger on both sides.

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What Causes This Kind of Fighting?

If someone feels the need to be right as an adult, they were probably raised by parents who consistently told them they were wrong.

We’re not talking about fact-based right and wrong, either. If a child thinks 2+2=5, their parents should correct them.

But let’s say a child tells their parents they’re cold. The parent can either:

a) acknowledge the child’s reality (by offering the child a jacket or blanket) or

b) dismiss the child’s statement (by telling them that it’s actually warm in the room).

A child who is subjected to the latter is more likely to become adamant when their reality is tested by another person. To develop the need to “right fight.”

Even worse, children who are raised this way tend to choose partners with similar attributes! Put those two people together and you’re almost guaranteed a clash.

“Right fighting” isn’t just a pain in and of itself. By continually arguing over who is right, you’ll spend less time focusing on the actual issues at hand.

If the couple above spends 20 minutes debating about the length of the drive, that’s 20 minutes lost. They will have made no real progress on the real thing that is frustrating them.

This is utterly unhelpful if you are trying to find a couple’s answer.

What You Can Do to Stop This Kind of Fighting with Your Partner

The next time you find yourself in an argument with your partner, try this:

  • Stay present
  • Think clearly about what you’re saying and arguing about
  • If you catch yourself “right fighting,” take a step back
  • Ask yourself, “are these details important to the issue at hand?” If they aren’t, drop them and focus on the more important conflict
  • Focus on coming to a couple’s answer

Once you’ve done that, then you can go back and clear up minor details.

Most of the time, though, you’ll find those details don’t matter after you’ve kissed and made up. Ultimately, it comes down to this: would you rather be “right” or happy?

Reach out today to learn more about how Imago Relationship Therapy addresses “right fighting” and other similar conflicts in a relationship.

Originally Published 6/5/2017. Updated 12/16/2020

Even in a normal year, I know all too well from my clients that holidays and stress go hand-in-hand. Things like deciding whose family to visit, how much to spend, and last minute changes to plans can lead to eruptions. Add pandemic concerns on top of that and the season is a powder keg. You need holiday stress tips.

What kinds of things can you do to avoid relationship friction?

Acknowledge the Financial Reality of COVID: Make a Holiday Budget and Stick to It

Money is always one of the top causes of arguments between couples. And with so many people struggling due to the pandemic, this year will likely be worse. The chaotic and emotion-fueled festivities of the holiday season only exacerbate this further.

How can you alleviate problems? Sit down with each other. Look at your finances. And make a plan of action together.

This means budgeting for presents, travel, meals – anything that wouldn’t be a normal part of your monthly budget. Last-minute crises may occur, but the better you plan, the easier it will be to deviate from it when necessary.

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Prepare for Known Holiday Stressors

No holiday stress tips can prevent all stress. Case-in-point: family-related stress.

Whether you’ll be seeing relatives in person or virtually this year, some of them are bound to push your buttons. In fact, guilt over not seeing someone may be just as bad.

Recognize this ahead of time. And talk it out with your partner.

Why?

This has many purposes:

1) It prepares your partner for specific situations that may stress you out.

2) It enlists your partner in helping you combat the stressful situation.

3) It shows you care about how your stress (and potential bad behavior) could impact your partner.

Attempting to preemptively deal with the stressors will hopefully cause fewer relationship issues if an explosion does happen.

However…

Don’t use this “preparation” as an excuse to blow up. There has to be a genuine effort on both sides to prevent bad behavior.

Accept That This Year Will Be Different

All of us are tired of having to change our lives for COVID. But if you’re prioritizing safety, you have to accept that as a reality.

Which means this holiday season will likely be different from years past. Maybe you won’t have holiday parties with friends. Or go to that festival where people pack the streets, get hot chocolate, and see Santa. Or attend that annual light tour in your city.

Talk about the things you’re going to miss this year ahead of time. And then think about new traditions you can start. Ones that will allow you to celebrate the season without sacrificing safety.

Like holiday movie nights. Driving around to see the lights. Making hot chocolate at home. And so on.

No one is saying it will be easy. But acknowledging the potential problems ahead of time and talking them through together can save your relationship from a lot of grief.

Want more holiday stress tips? If you find yourself struggling over the season and worry about your relationship, seek out the Houston marriage counselor today.

Originally Published 12/11/2019. Updated 10/16/20.