Top Five Right and Five Wrong Reasons to Marry

Too many people get married for the wrong reasons. That may help explain why 43 percent of all marriages in the U.S. fall apart. Divorce360 asked three leading marital experts for the top five right reasons and top five wrong reasons to get married. Here's what they said:

WRONG REASON NUMBER 1:

Sexual attraction

Too many people confuse sexual attraction with love and that can lead to a short-lived marriage, explains Michele Weiner Davis, a Boulder, Colo.-based therapist and author of "The Sex-Starved Marriage" and "The Sex-Starved Wife" (published in January 2008). "The novelty of being with someone will turn on anyone," she says. When the sexual attraction wanes, if there's no mutual trust and a joint view of the future, the marriage fades as well. Her advice is clear: sexual attraction between two people is a good thing and energizes the marriage. But if the foundation isn't based on strong communication and shared values, the chances of a long-lasting marriage based solely on animal attraction aren't good.

RIGHT REASON NUMBER 1:

You are good at working out your differences.

Research indicates that one common theme among long-lasting marriages involves an ability to work out conflict. "All relationships have conflicts," Davis says. The couples that can talk out their differences, surmount the conflict, and agree on a compromise last. The partners that trigger anger and resentment in one another or are unable to talk about their differences often can't sustain marriage.

WRONG REASON NUMBER 2:

Escaping the family.

Many single people feel stuck living at home. When a potential mate appears, they often leap at the opportunity to extricate themselves from their parents' home and get engaged. Often it doesn't matter to them if their potential mate is a good match because of their need to separate from their parents. "There are many ways to escape a family. Making a lifelong commitment with someone who isn't a worthy partner isn't the best choice," Davis notes.

RIGHT REASON NUMBER 2:

Sharing common interests.

If married couples share common interests, it engenders closeness and mutual experiences. Experts say that couples don't have to share all common interests, but having enough of them encourages spending time together, a key ingredient to a successful marriage. Those commonalities can be as varied as spending time with their children, loving travel, following sports, as long as they both appreciate something together, Davis says.

WRONG REASON NUMBER 3:

The infatuation syndrome.

Too many people confuse infatuation with love, suggests Barbara Bartlein, author of "Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths that Hinder a Happy Marriage." Infatuation is defined as a fleeting feeling for someone, whereas love is long lasting and is based on trust and commitment. "Infatuation is instantaneous and some experts suggest can be hormonal," Bartlein states. Love has patience whereas infatuation has a sense of urgency and often that urgency fades. When marriages are based on infatuation, "When the zing is gone, they assume they married the wrong person and go looking again," she adds.

RIGHT REASON NUMBER 3:

Your partner fills your needs, not your wants.

"Too many people get married for what they want instead of what they need," Bartlein says. For example, Bartlein herself reads many novels and would love to discuss fiction with her husband, except this genre doesn't interest him. Nonetheless, they have a solid marriage because she needs someone who is reliable, trustworthy, works hard. Marrying someone who meets her needs has enabled this marriage to last.

WRONG REASON NUMBER 4:

You think getting married will solve your problems.

If your mate easily gets angry with you and frequently loses control, it can be a telltale sign that problems in the marriage are right around the corner. But many people ignore the signs. "They see signs of troubled behavior but think it will get better when they get married," Bartlein says. Often if this irascible or abusive behavior occurs in the engagement period, it will only get worse after marriage, unless the person is in counseling or therapy. "Some people think they will fix it after they get married. Anything that is mildly annoying will be extremely annoying after you say 'I do,'" she says.

RIGHT REASON NUMBER 4:

Your plans for the future line up.

Talking about a couple's expectations of the future is one of the surest ways of making sure you're both on the same page and share common values that can sustain a marriage, Davis says. Many couples don't talk about whether they want to have kids, where they're going to live, whether they'll be a one or two career household. "Some people think things will work out magically when they get married, but that won't happen," she notes. The more you discuss your common visions for the future, the greater the chances the marriage will last.

WRONG REASON NUMBER 5:

You're head-over-heels in love.

Falling in love, too many people get blinded and don't really get to know their mate, asserts Terri L. Orbuch, who runs the weekly "Love Doctor" call-in show at FOX-TV in Detroit and also serves as director of the Early Years of Marriage Project at the University of Michigan. What really keeps people together is "their friendship, intimacy and support," Orbuch says. If you ask yourself, "If I lost my job or had a medical scare, whom would I go to for support," that answer might reveal the real love of your life.

RIGHT REASON NUMBER 5:

You make each other feel special.

One factor in successful marriages is making your partner feel special and worthy, particularly for men, Orbuch says. Because the friendships men establish often don't have the depth of women's relationships, men depend more on their spouse to feel special. When women say, "I love you, you make my life exciting," or make their mate their favorite dessert, it goes a long way to affirming their mate and contributing to a happy marriage, she says.

RESOURCES:

- Michelle Weiner Davis' Web site divorcebusting.com offers advice on avoiding divorce, making a marriage work and learning from others. The site is interactive and also promotes talking with other people who are striving to keep their marriage intact.

- Terri L. Orbuch, a.k.a the Love Doctor, also has a site at www.drterrithelovedr.com. Orbuch charges respondents $10 for a mini-session, entailing asking a question and getting a response, or $25 for three sessions.

- John M. Gottman, a marital therapist who runs The Gottman Institute in Seattle, is one of the country's most recognized experts on what makes successful marriages work. His books such as "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," "The Relationship Cure and Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage," are available in paperback, aimed at a mass audience, and are very pragmatic and useful.

- Gary M. Stern co-authored "Minority Rules: Turn Your Ethnicity into a Competitive Edge (Harper Collins 2006)," a how-to business book helping women, African Americans and Latinos climb the corporate ladder.

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Visit divorce360.com for help before, during and after divorce.

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(c) 2010, Divorce360.com

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