In our "have it now" society, couples often think that living together or simply getting married is good enough to make it long-term. Here are six reasons why that's simply not the case.
What you learned in your family isn't good enough
I know, I know. You have the most amazing, supportive family. Not only did you always have peaceful family vacations, you always had dinner around the table. Despite all the perfection that surrounded you growing up, your amazing family didn't fully prepare you for the unique challenges that happen when you marry. You may end up marrying a person who didn't have a perfect childhood. You may end up marrying a person with unknown mental health issues. You may end up with another person who had a "perfect" upbringing - and you're definitely not prepared for what comes with that. Be open to learning something new.
You need to claim your baggage
Any leftover baggage you're carrying will deeply affect your current relationship. We all bring challenges to relationships, and figuring out what those challenges are is half the battle. The sooner you know what challenges you bring to the table in a relationship, the quicker you can move forward, getting the business of a good marriage accomplished.
You need to define your mission
Do you know what your marriage is going to be about? Will it be about serving your partner, making lots of money, raising well-behaved children? If you and your partner have agreed upon a common goal prior to marriage, then all future issues can be weighed against this mission. This mission will also change over time. It's a great idea to sit down every few years and go over you mission, changing it as necessary.
You must commit to commitment
This may seem like common sense, but many couples don't make the commitment to work on issues when life gets tough. Instead, they blame, seek other relationships, avoid conversations, etc. If your view from the start is one of unwavering commitment - even when things get bad - it's more likely divorce won't happen.
There are loose ends that need tying
I call this family logistics. Once you've covered all the bases mentioned here, start planning how many kids you want, where you will spend the holidays, when will you buy a house, and so on (and so on).
It goes without saying that simply going into a marriage without planning is not a good idea. If you plan - literally - to have a great relationship, that's what you're most likely going to get!