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Nearly 50 percent of all marriages in this country end in divorce, which has led many singles to wonder “What’s the point?” In fact, it has become a joke—so much so that the state of New Mexico is considering two-year renewals. You know, sort of like a driver’s license.

However, marriage in itself is not the reason it has become so trivialized. It is our approach and the unrealistic portraits we paint of what it is supposed to be. For example, more and more of us are telling ourselves it is necessary to cohabit before taking the plunge. Yet research shows that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than those who do not. On the same token, many imagine idealistic unions marked by decades of endless bliss. And, that just doesn’t happen.

Here’s why:

Romance comes and goes.

Every kiss begins with Kay…on TV! Rose petals and trips to Paris don’t happen every day. Granted, it is important to try to keep the romance alive as much as possible; but marriage isn’t one long honeymoon vacation. Every relationship goes through dry spells; even if they only last three to five days.

Emotions are unpredictable.

More than ever, many of us are making decisions based on emotion rather than rationale. It is critical to think outside of feelings because they tend to be rooted in selfishness. Most importantly, it is imperative to keep in mind that love is an action, not an emotion. Evaluate conflicts according to “us” instead “me,” and focus on finding tangible solutions to the issues stirring up negative emotions.

Bad breath is incurable.

No one is perfect and people these days expect perfection. Your spouse is guaranteed to disappoint you on more than one occasion and everyone has bad habits. Humans are imperfect and it’s vital not to sweat the petty stuff. If we did, no one would marry.

Constructive criticism is “judgmental.”

You’re not perfect, so don’t expect your spouse to bow in the presence of your self-righteousness. Like anyone else, you do and will continue to make mistakes. And, guess what? You probably have some habits one might consider annoying or nasty. An inability to see room for improvement can lead to unnecessary arguing.

Sex is, like, everything.

Marriage doesn’t mean countless hours of steamy sex seven days a week. No, most couples only get down 2-3 times a week. While you should make time for loving as much as possible, life doesn’t disappear when you walk down the aisle. The job you had as a single woman is still there. Expecting a boost in sexual activity often causes friction and, sometimes, results in adultery. Sexpectations should be discussed prior to marriage to make sure the bride and groom are on the same page.

“It’s just a piece of paper.”

Paper is worthless and so is a marriage founded in that frame of mind. Only the couples who respect their union as a covenant will survive the inevitable tough times. It is critical to be united spiritually, not just legally.

Displaced responsibility for happiness.

Individuals determine whether or not they are happy. Even in the worst circumstances, some people manage to keep their joy. Why? Life is full of hurdles and all of us would be depressed if we let every little thing affect our happiness. More concern about staged proposals and Vera Wang gowns that the actual commitment.The idea of marriage has become so commercialized that we often forget the impact of our decision. It’s important to remember the celebrations are miniscule in the grand scheme of things. If finances are a leading cause of divorce, it’s probably not a wise decision to go into a year’s salary worth of debt for the wedding. Think beyond the first dance and you’ll be dancing together for years to come.

LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio. Visit her blog Politically Unapologetic for more on love, life and culture, or follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.
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