Marriage is a tricky thing. Sometimes, no matter how much two people love each other and try to make it work, they just can't.
Just look at Brad and Angelina, one of the most impressive Hollywood couples of all time, who called it quits after 12 years together and 2 years of marriage. RIP Brangelina.
I don't know about you guys, but I definitely did not see their divorce coming. I think, from the outside, it's easy for us to assume couples who've been together for a long time are resilient and will continue to stay together because they've already put in so many years.
But these days, divorce is rampant among once-happily-married couples — even the ones whose relationships were rock solid pre-wedding.
Since the thought of getting divorced from someone I was once obsessed with freaks me out, I spoke with Dr. Deborah Sandella, psychotherapist and author of "Goodbye Hurt & Pain: 7 Simple Steps for Health, Love, and Success" to get to the bottom of why getting hitched can spell DOOM for a couple — even if they're crazy in love.
"In the beginning [of a relationship], there's biochemistry and infatuation, and it causes us to be our best selves and keeps us afloat. For a while, it may also keep us from talking about our feelings," she explains.
This swept-up feeling you experience when you first meet "The One" can be dangerous, as it can "blind you to being honest," Dr. Sandella says. In other words, you might be more inclined to hide your crazy when you're still in the honeymoon phase.
But when that short-lived infatuation switches to long-term love, you can start to get... well, comfortable. Suddenly, the issues you didn't talk about during the honeymoon stage have now grown into what Dr. Sandella calls an "arsenal of suppressed feelings."
Sounds dramatic, because it is.
If you suppress these feelings for too long, they'll eventually rise up. And when you finally do tap into them, you and your partner will act more "dumpy" towards each other — expressing your concerns in an angry or frustrated way, Dr. Sandella says.
And, surprise, surprise! Being "dumpy" can lead to divorce.
So, how do you avoid this when you get married? You need to work on "continuously creating situations where you can fall in love with your husband all over again," suggests Dr. Sandella. This could mean taking an annual honeymoon or regularly find and try activities that you both love to do together.
It may also be a good idea to have an "annual tiff," in which you can both clear the air about all of your emotional baggage. "When you do that, it's like being a young couple again. That's how you rediscover the person you married," Dr. Sandella says.
Not to beat a dead horse, but communication really does seem to be the key to a successful marriage.
"When we get married, there's a lot of invisible beliefs and expectations that may not factor into a non-married couple's relationship," Dr. Sandella says.
One example of an expectation is the promise that you and your hubby/wife should stay together, no matter what the circumstances are. The very fact that you took a vow to see your relationship through makes you behave differently from a non-married couple.
In addition to these unspoken beliefs that can put pressure on a marriage, there's also the topic of money.
Being bound together in a financial way can potentially damage a marriage because it gets to the "heart of power in the relationship," Dr. Sandella says. If one spouse makes more money than the other — and has to be completely transparent about that money — it can lead to a power struggle over how to spend it.
Talking with your partner about your financial situation BEFORE you get married is one of the BEST measures you can take to ensure money isn't something that drives you both apart. Because, romance is great, but logistics are crucial.
"I don't think of [marriage] as a romantic decision. I think of it as a lifelong decision," Dr. Sandella says.
I don't think of [marriage] as a romantic decision. I think of it as a lifelong decision.
With this in mind, your marriage can also be headed for disaster if you entered it for the wrong reasons.
In fact, many of Dr. Sandella's clients are monogamous couples who believed marriage was simply the next best thing to do in their relationship — whether they had just graduated college or been together for many years.
Other twosomes saw marriage as a way out of something they were uncomfortable with, such as an unhappy work or family life. Getting hitched, they thought, would be a quick fix.
The red flag in these situations? Both partners usually "remember having second thoughts on their wedding day," Dr. Sandella says.
If you're getting married for the right reasons, though, it's important to "self-disclose fears and insecurities" as early as possible. This ensures that when conflict arises, they can be dealt with properly and with compassion.
"Marriage isn't about finding the right person," Dr. Sandella says. "It's about becoming the right person so you can do the work in the relationship."
Marriage is about becoming the right person so you can do the work in the relationship.
If you're not sure that you're that person yet, take her advice: "Don't do it."