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Make marriage decision based on sound reasons
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although the number of people getting married increased shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, prospective couples should make sure their reasons for marrying are the kind that can last a lifetime.
Some communities nationwide located near military bases reported some sharp increases in weddings in the days and weeks following the attacks. Many military personnel married in anticipation of being deployed, but Mississippi appears not to have been affected by that national trend.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the need for security is a tremendous force driving couples to marry.
"Sometimes people think being married implies security and stability," Davis said. "Personal security depends on our having a certain amount of structure in our lives, and marriage with its social norms, expectations and more, can provide some of that structure."
Many people look to marriage to provide financial security, companionship, social status and self esteem. While marriage does offer some of these, Davis said an individual should feel secure about who they are as a whole person before getting married, and not depend on another for self confidence.
"Couples should feel secure about their relationship with each other, but they shouldn't get married to feel secure about themselves," Davis said.
People who know who they are and are self confident know what positive things they want in a spouse. This allows them to date people who have these desired characteristics, and prevents a lot of heartache by looking for Mr. or Miss Right in all the wrong places.
"Make sure that you share similar values and goals with the person you hope to marry. Since marriage is supposed to be a team effort, make sure you are a team that is headed in the same direction."
Premarital counseling can identify potential problem areas and help couples work through these or determine they are not right for each other. Topics discussed in this counseling include anger management, the ability to share weaknesses and worries with a partner, money matters, mutual respect and intimacy.
"Premarital counseling gives couples the opportunity to explore and resolve potential problem areas before they become problems. It also gives couples tools to make their marriages stronger," Davis said. "In some cases, premarital counseling reveals differences significant enough that some couples decide not to get married."
Traditional values tend to provide stability and historically people return to these values during times of change or unrest. As recent events have left many Americans feeling vulnerable, many have turned to marriage to rebuild some structure in their lives.