10. Believing in '..and they lived happily ever after". Women are fed romantic ideals from the day they are born. Books and movies aimed at girls invariably promote the big wedding to the perfect man as the ideal ending. The truth is, marriage is hard work! A more realistic perspective would be that marriage is about 20% happiness, 30% contentment and 50% plain hard work! Going into marriage with a realistic attitude will prevent a lot of disappointment.
9. Believing that they can change him. Women have a tendency to gloss over qualities they don't like in a man, telling themselves 'oh, he'll change' or 'I'll work on that'. It doesn't work, because you can't force a person to change. If you do manage to bully him into changing, your relationship will suffer. Either accept and enjoy the differences between you or create an environment that encourages him to want to change for you.
8. Believing that he will always be romantic. Often women have very unrealistic expectations based on the way their partner behaved during the courtship phase. Unfortunately, most men heave a big sigh of relief once they have won you because they think 'hey, I can relax now and stop doing all that girly stuff'! That doesn't mean you have to give up on romance, just don't expect a 'grand gesture' every day.
7. Losing self. Getting into an intense relationship before they've developed a clear sense of their own identity is another common mistake young women make. Without a clear sense of self, women identify overly with their partner and find it difficult to stand up for themselves and their own needs. A woman with a strong sense of identity, however, is a more interesting and equal partner.
6. Giving up friends and interests. With the thrill of being in love, it is too easy for women to put friends and family, hobbies and sports on the backburner. This is a fundamental mistake to make because a) women depend on support networks throughout their lives and b) men just can't be everything to a woman. It is asking too much of them. It is important to maintain a happy balance in your life.
5. Rushing into marriage. It almost seems to be a race across the wedding finishing line for many young women. Marriage can last an eternity, but your single 20s only last a decade at the most! Don't rush into it. Just because you found the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, doesn't mean you have to marry him straight away. Enjoy your youth so that you will not have any regrets later.
4. Not having conversations about serious issues. Talk to your partner about where you both stand on issues that can make or break a marriage. Talk about the number of children you both want, are you intending to stay home to raise them, where your priorities lie, spending styles, dreams and goals, where you see yourself 20 years from now, parenting styles, sharing of responsibilities, etc. You need to know beforehand if his beliefs are incompatible with yours. This alone can determine how happy or conflicted your marriage is.
Also, have discussions about ground rules. Negotiations should be conducted before you sign on the dotted line. Too many of us rush into marriage and then spend the first decade negotiating the details! Sit down and nut out the details before you get married. Work out the basic rules that you both need to follow in order to have a happy marriage. It is important to be realistic, though, and to not agree to any rules that you know are unreasonable. Sex every day may work for him but it probably won't for you! Also, realize that these rules may need to be renegotiated now and then, such as when you have children.
3. Having a close relationship before sussing out the guy. Research shows that women are genetically programmed to fall in love with someone they have a close relationship with. Make sure that he is someone you have the potential to be happy with, before you do anything. Afterwards, your hormones are likely to override your commonsense. Sometimes this work because your fundamental beliefs are the same but don't let your hormones make that decision for you.
2. Settling. A lot of women start to panic if they aren't married by their mid-20s, and god forbid they reach 30 without being married! That ol' biological clock starts ticking loudly. The result is that they make excuses and rationalizations to themselves about a relationship that is already dull and past its use-by date, or which they know has serious issues. Marrying someone because you are afraid to be alone is unfair to yourself and your partner. Someone once said 'I don't want to spend a lifetime turning a bad relationship into an average one; I want to start with a good relationship and make it a great one'. Hear, hear.
And the No. 1 mistake women make is
1. Getting married because they are 'in love'. Being in love is not a good enough reason to marry. We can fall in love for many reasons - it doesn't mean the man you have fallen in love with will be a good partner. Choosing a good partner makes all the difference between having a harmonious marriage and a difficult marriage. You need to seriously question how well you two can work together for a lifetime. Do you complement each other? Does he make you feel like a better person or a lesser one?
Sue Dillicar, writer, wife and mother
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