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The ultimate achievement in love is a wedding. This belief is the single biggest cause of bad marriages and divorce. This wedding obsession is as much about commerce as it is about romance: The $51 billion wedding industry has everything to gain from as many people getting married as possible, as often as possible. That more than half of those marriages end in divorce has almost no downside for the industry, which makes even more money when divorcees remarry, divorce and remarry, and (often) divorce and remarry again.

Most of us go along with the wedding-by-any-means-necessary hype even when we have no faith at all that a new marriage will succeed. How many of us witness weddings and celebrate the rings, hair, dresses, music, food, reception, and yes, how cute the couple look together—but cannot honestly celebrate the marriage? However, talk to enough people, and if they’re honest, some will cite broken engagements, and even being left at the altar, as the best thing that ever happened to them, even if they were disappointed and devastated when it happened. Talk about dodging a bullet!

Perhaps there is nothing you can do to stop the wedding propaganda juggernaut. But for your own good, know this: The ultimate achievement in love is not a wedding, but a healthy, loving relationship of honor, esteem and respect, which is the bedrock of all successful marriages. Focus on establishing the foundation (a healthy relationship), before building the house (a marriage). Remember, whether you build on solid ground, on a fault line or in a flood zone, the builders (like those in the bridal industry) get paid; they have nothing to lose (unlike your spouse and any children you have) when the basement floods, the walls start to crack or it totally collapses later. When you get those longings for your big wedding day (or the “when are you going to get married” pressure from others), take a good look at all of the unstable and crumbling marriages around you and remember: Better to be single wishing you were married, than married wishing you were single. Take as much time as it takes to get to know a person (as well as yourself) before rushing to the altar. The right person is worth the wait; the wrong person is never worth the risk.

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