My partner and I want to get married, but we’re fighting a lot. Should we wait? I’m asked this question quite a bit. Some couples are having a lot of conflict during the engagement or pre-engagement stage, but they love each other and want to spend their lives together. At this point, one or both ask if they should get engaged, or get married if they are already engaged.
Will a Ring Fix My Relationship?
There is a both a quick answer, and a longer answer to this question. The quick answer is this: a ring will not fix your issues. As a matter of fact, it may make them worse.
Relationship expert John Gottman states in his Gottman Method Couple Therapy that each stage in a relationship has its own particular question. As a relationship gets more serious, one of the questions people start to ask themselves is will their partner be there for them. The addition of a ring or a marriage when there is already conflict can rev this question into high gear, making everything about weather or not your partner can be trusted to be there when needed.
So if raising the commitment level in the relationship won’t make it more stable, what will?
While it may seem like more commitment is what is needed to feel secure and stable, instead, slow down and work on the relationship issues you are currently facing. There are many issues that are easy to work through during dating or engagement, but once married will feel like a betrayal. For instance, if you and your partner are not on the same page on how to handle finances, then the impact when you are dating is low. When you marry, half that debt is yours! You can feel betrayed if one of you is a big spender and the other is a saver.
Now is the time to work through the issues you have either on your own or with a couple therapist. A couple therapist can help you get to the root of your conflict and help you learn to compromise with each other.
Also, I would suggest once the initial conflict is completed, that you go through a round of premarital counseling once you are engaged. Premarital counseling helps a couple to identify things that they need to talk through before marriage so that the marriage starts out solid. It is NOT intended to tell you if you and your partner are compatible. Some people are afraid of this and don’t want to seek premarital counseling. Instead, it walks a couple through topics that may cause major fights if left until after marriage to discuss. It helps the couple to determine their expectations around these issues and determine compromises in advance so that they do not fight about the issues later. Some such topics are finances, if children will be raised in a faith or without one, how often the couple will have sex, and how often spouses will visit with friends and family.
So Should We Get Married When We’re Fighting?
For the best relationship long-term, the answer is no. These issues are always easier to negotiate before the marriage than after, so it is best that you discuss them beforehand.
Again, if you’re fighting a lot, now is not the time to raise the level of commitment in your relationship. Instead, it is time to learn to handle conflict between you in a more loving successful way.