Q: Hi Meredith!
I am a long time LL lurker, and I mean YEARS. My problem (more like a general grievance) is that there is no advice out there for people in successful relationships to maintain those relationships. People speak in generalities about things getting rough. What does that mean?
Some background: I am 26, my boyfriend is 28, and I have finally stumbled upon the kind of fairy-tale romance that little girls dream of and women like me assumed was the way of the unicorn. My boyfriend and I are great together. Even our fights are constructive and make us feel closer by the end. I am moving in with him next month and we are starting to talk about marriage.
The problem is that I am way too logical for my own good. I can't get over the fact that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I'm assuming that 50% of these marriages don't occur in Vegas, so what is it exactly that's tearing people apart? My wonderful boyfriend tells me that we shouldn't worry about it because we have such great communication skills (cheesy, right?) and talking about this stuff will prevent it from happening to us. This reminds me of the statistic that something like 80% of people think they are smarter than average. I don't want to just "wing it" and then, two years down the road, find out what those divorced 50% know that I don't. There seems to be no advice or literature or anything to help someone like me figure out what is necessary to make this thing work. All I can find are books that are either about finding Jesus or taming your chakras in order to have a fulfilling relationship.
I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend. However, I know things will get rocky. What are those things? How can I get a head start so I know how to handle them when they come up?
– Maritally Illiterate, Newton
A: I hate the "50 percent of marriages fail" stat, MI. It's misleading. There are a lot of people out there who stay together for decades without getting married. There are also a lot of people who stay unhappily married for years. Once you consider that, the stat becomes meaningless. If only we could poll mature couples who communicate well. Maybe the numbers would be different.
You have everything you need to succeed – except the willingness to admit that a lot of this is out of your hands. You can't anticipate what your fights will be when you turn 40. You can't anticipate what issues will make you want to move out of the house for a few weeks when you turn 35 (it might happen). But you also can't anticipate all of the wonderful things that will occur during the marriage, all of the great memories that you'll make as a couple.
The best thing to do is to ignore the stats and move in with your boyfriend. Because once you do, you'll see some of the stuff that might bother you later. And you'll see that your boyfriend is right -- at the beginning of a good relationship, all you can do is communicate and cross your fingers.
Readers? Will she figure all of this out when she moves in? How do you ignore the marriage stats? Could anyone have anticipated their marital problems at the start of their relationship? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.