I have a rule that I fully intend to enforce with my kids before they get married. Ask Vince. He's heard it often enough! The rule is this: "Before you can get married, you have to tell me three things you don't like about the person you want to marry and the things that you love so much about them that you're willing to put up with the bad stuff." And really, instead of "don't like" you might substitute "can't stand" or "hate" more effectively.
When I walked into marriage, I had some pretty twisted views of me, of my hubby, and of marriage in general. I really and truly believed that things would magically be wonderful when we got married. You know, like suddenly I would be the person Rick really wanted me to be. I would be a cleanie. Love would cover a multitude of shortcomings and issues and communication problems. Unsurprisingly, the reality has been very different.
Marriage has been difficult and fraught with problems, fights, lectures (which I detest), silence, and whole years at a time when we weren't as close as we might have been. We both agree that, if we had it to do all over again, we wouldn't. But there has been joy, and happiness, and growth, and connection, and harmony, and peace as well. I can't imagine my life without my kids and they wouldn't be who they are without this relationship. I wouldn't be who I am without it either. And I like me, so there you have it.
So that brings me back to my rule. I don't want my kids to walk into a relationship blind to the pain that will inevitably come. I do want them to be so firmly committed to seeing the whole of life through with their spouse that the pain pushes them together instead of apart.
Since we're not to that point in life, I can't tell you what the results are yet. But trust me: I'll post it so we can see if I've got a good idea or a bad one.