Words of marital wisdom

Maria McBride, the wedding style director at Brides Magazine, describes the enchantment with the 10/10/10 wedding date as this: “You cross your fingers and hope it lasts a lifetime.” Therefore, the prospect of a perfect ten times three, she explains, suggests good luck.

Is this really what people are feeling when they get married?

Are brides and grooms crossing their fingers and hoping for the best when they slip the ring on their partner’s finger?

I was fortunate enough to marry a couple on 10/10/10, and over the course of that day, I saw no dependence upon hope, luck or superstition in order to make their marriage last. These were two people who had known each other since elementary school, and they were clearly in love.

In fact, they didn’t even realize the numerical significance of their date until after it had been set.

I hope Maria McBride is wrong. Yes, marriages fail at a rate of nearly 50%, but it’s my hope that no one enters into marriage with their fingers crossed.

And if you want your marriage to last a lifetime, allow me to offer a few tips.

Though I am not a style director of a bridal magazine, I have been married twice (one failed and one near-perfect), have married more than a dozen couples in the last ten years, and have worked with more than 300 others in planning their wedding day in the capacity of DJ and wedding planner. I am also responsible for salvaging at least two marriages (in the words of those involved) and am frequently looked upon as a source of martial advice from people I know.

I’m not an expert, but I know some stuff.

So here are three things to keep in mind prior to getting married:

1. Don’t get married before the age of 30.  It’s not a sure sign of disaster if you decide to get married earlier, but it doesn’t help. People over the age of 30 are more established, more aware of their own needs, and better prepared to share a home and life with another person. In short, they are more mature and better able to meet the requirements of marriage.

Don’t believe me?  Survey the people you know in your life.

How many are divorced?

How many of those divorced people were married before the age of 30?

If you are like most people I know, the numbers will tell the story.

2. If you are in a relationship in which the negotiation required for a night out without your future spouse or a Saturday afternoon on the golf course requires you to carefully time your request and barter one obligation or privilege for another, don’t get married.

If you are in a relationship in which you find yourself “getting in trouble” with your future spouse, don’t get married.

When a husband, for example, must wait until his wife is in a good mood to ask if he can attend a football game, or when he worries about getting in trouble with his wife for staying out an hour or two later than planned, it is not a relationship on equal footing and it should be avoided at all costs. The marriage might last, but it ain’t going to be a happy life.

3. Do not marry someone who is unwilling to combine their finances with your own.

I have known couples who keep separate checking accounts and divide household expenses via complex formulas, and while some of them are still married today, they are simply not as happy as a couple who stands together as a team, under one financial umbrella.

A couple who keeps their money separate is a couple who is crossing their fingers and hoping the marriage will last while keeping one foot in the doorway just in case it doesn’t.

It’s a recipe for disaster. Money is already a contributing factor in most divorces. Don’t give it room to create any more trouble than it already does.

My good friend, Kim, tells her children that choosing their spouse is the single most important decision that they will ever make.

I agree with her.

Make it a sensible choice, and one that will give you the greatest chance at happiness. I know far too many unhappily married people and count myself extremely fortunate to be in a marriage that brings me nothing but joy.

You deserve the same.