After watching generations of women give up their dreams of a career and success in favor of marriage, and then watching them struggle for survival after a messy divorce, when I got into the counseling field, I decided to tell women to concentrate on their career before they looked for a life partner. I wanted to make sure they always had a way to earn a living no matter what curve balls were thrown at them.
When you’re young, in your twenties and thirties, you want the dream of love and marriage; you’re not as motivated to try to succeed in the business world, so it’s a hard sell. For years, I’ve been hearing, “When am I going to meet my soul mate?” No matter what else is going on in their lives, the first thing they want to know is when they’re going to meet their soul mate.
How do you tell someone who thinks that all her problems will be solved if she can just find someone to marry, that her problems may just be starting, not ending? How do you tell her that she may be the one who has to be responsible for paying the bills if her husband spends all their money on things they can’t afford and don’t need?
While marriage for many can be a wonderful experience, it’s not a panacea for everything or everyone. And, if you’re expecting your spouse to be the source of all your happiness and the solver of all your problems, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
Your own personality comes into play here. If you are a negative person, no one is going to make you into an optimist. You have to want to change and you have to work hard at making those changes, otherwise, you’ll always be dissatisfied with your life and your discontent will eventually poison your relationship.
We’re not talking about someone who suffers from clinical depression. That’s a completely different situation and can be handled medically and with good counseling and a change of diet.
What we’re talking about is the kind of person who is never satisfied, never feels any joy, and no matter what good things come her way, she will always feel that something is missing. Even a soul mate can’t fill those empty spaces inside her; she has to find a way to fill them herself.
All of which brings us back to why I tell women to get their career off the ground before they get married, so that if their life doesn’t turn out the way they wanted and their dreams fall apart, they will at least be able to support themselves while figuring out what they want to do next.