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Recognizing a problem before it hurts your marriage
Past problems can affect our future marriages. Here is how to save your marriage before it starts. - photo by Dan Bates
There are many factors that lead to marital strain and unhappiness. One of the leading causal factors in marital discord is hostile conflict conflict that often finds its roots in family-of-origin (the family in which you were born and raised)problems.

In two different studies, one by P.R. Amato in 1996, and another by T.B. Holman and P.J. Birch in 2001, data has shown that disrupted and dysfunctional family-of-origin histories influence future marital discord if issues are not recognized and resolved.

In some cases, people who come from "broken" families often leave their family or situation, thinking they are also leaving all of the drama, conflict and pain behind. They then find themselves recreating their own past problems in their newly created familes.

I've heard it said that the family is the laboratory of life; meaning we do most of our learning, developing and experimenting within the family context. Family life can be looked at as a sort of training. How families deal with conflict, manage money, perceive time, work, express love and affection and so on affects future relationships. The way we handle each of these issues is largely based on what we learned in our own family.

For premarital couples, having an understanding of what factors may cause hostile marital conflict in their future marriage is incredibly valuable information. The research is still preliminary, but there is evidence to support the notion that the work you put into your premarital relationship can save your future marriage.

Here are five steps you can take to help prevent marital conflicts:


Recognition is only the first step, but is an important one. You can't begin to fix a problem until you recognize what it is.


Stop telling yourself that you can "run away" from your family-of-origin problems. People can grow and change for the better. Facing and fixing these problems appropriately will bring you peace and healing.


Understand that the struggles of the past will be the struggles of your future, if not appropriately handled. Do your future marriage a favor and begin now the proper growing and healing processes needed.

Be honest

Be honest and specific about areas in which you struggle with to your future spouse. The better you can understand the problem, the more effectively you can move towards healing and growth.


Know that you can't change another person; you can only change yourself. Growth in premarital relationships happens when partners realize the only thing in their control is their own behavior and how they respond to one another.

Each of us has a past, filled with both good and bad. Our pasts help make us who we are today -- which can be a positive thing, if we allow it to be.
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