The sad truth about being smack in the middle of wedding season is knowing that, no matter how fabulous the reception or how starry-eyed the bride and groom, some of the marriages you celebrate simply won’t survive. While there’s no magic formula for predicting whether or not a couple will make it, experts in the industry have found a couple of common predictors that show a couple may need to do a bit more work before they walk down the aisle—or in some cases, call it quits altogether. Here, the red flags you can’t ignore.
1. He has an opinion on everything—and expects to get his way. He knows the difference between A-Line and empress? Amazing. The trouble occurs if he has a very specific vision of what you should wear or how you should look, regardless of whether it’s what you want. “I’ve seen fiancés hovering over the bride, turning down lipstick shades or outright forbidding eyeliner,” notes Maria Velissaris, chief executive officer and founder of La Voila Beauty, a New York City beauty service company that has worked with thousands of brides. “If a bride doesn’t have a voice for her big day, how will she have a voice in her marriage?” In other words, if he’s that controlling about your wedding plans, it could be a sign he’ll bring that controlling component into the marriage as well.Rachel Sussman, a relationship therapist in New York City and author of “The Breakup Bible,” concurs. “Respect is a characteristic of a healthy relationship and marriage,” says Sussman. “A lack of respect when you’re dating will translate to a lack of respect when you’re married—whether it’s because your significant other is being passive-aggressive or simply doesn’t respect women.”
2. You and he have a lot of blowout fights surrounding the budget. Weddings can be crazy expensive—it costs how much per shrimp?—and occasional disagreements or spats about details is par for the (stressful) course. But if you and he can’t compromise; you’re hiding key financial information, such as debt; or you downright dread meeting with vendors because you know you’ll inevitably get into an argument over the cost, that’s a sign you both need to get on the same page financially before making the decision to share your lives. “Any topic that creates arguments will only be amplified in marriage,” explains Sussman. And even if you plan to keep separate bank accounts in the future, having wildly different approaches to spending can still indicate that you and he have a rocky road ahead.
3. You roll your eyes at each other. University of Washington psychology professor emeritus and relationship expert John Gottman, Ph.D., has studied thousands of couples for the past 35 years, and his research has found that contempt—long-simmering negative and disrespectful thoughts about the partner—is the number one predictor of divorce. Contempt can show up as eye-rolling, sneering, name-calling, mimicking or hostile humor, and according to Gottman’s research, the negative emotion inevitably leads to more conflict rather than to reconciliation, making for one unhappy partnership.
4. The answer to “Will you have kids?” depends on who you ask. Some people want children. Some don’t. The point is, make sure you’re on the same page about kids before tying the knot. “Disagreements about whether or not to have children is an area of incompatibility that’s very difficult to manage,” notes Gregory Kuhlman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Brooklyn College and co-creator of Marriage Success Training, a pre-marital education course. If you want kids in the future and your partner definitely doesn’t, don’t expect him to change his decision a few years down the road, warns Kuhlman. If this is one area where you disagree, scheduling counseling sessions before you commit can help you both discuss the issue. Since it’s an emotionally charged topic, a trained facilitator can be helpful to keep the lines of communication open and understand exactly where each of you stand—and hopefully, reach an agreement that you’re both happy with.
5. He takes his parents’ side before yours. It’s not his fault his mom or dad is controlling, but it could indicate a problem if he always goes along with his parents’ wishes at the expense of your own. “In-laws can be a hindrance to an engagement or marriage if they meddle too much or have too much influence on your significant other,” points out Sussman. “If he always crumbles under the pressure of what his family wants, it may be a sign that the marriage will consist of endless battles of you versus them.”GET INFORMED: When Did a Wedding Dress Become a Symbol of Virginity?