I have often wondered what the hell some of my friends were thinking with some of the relationship choices they’ve made. It’s almost like they have been captivated by some….some………..I don’t know what the hell to call it, that makes them not see some of the glaring incompatibilities that are staring them right in the face. I guess we have all been there. Chasing after a mean-spirited and shallow woman who happens to be beautiful. Pursuing a guy that treats you like dirt while providing your life with that excitement that you crave. But for me there are some more equally as important compatibility issues that people just never seem to address. Why? Because they don’t do their homework. They get caught up to quickly. Too soon. Only to realize that a half a year into the a relationship that this person just isn’t compatible with you.
I was once prodded by a co-worker to describe my thought process on what I look for in women. Simple lunchtime talk…or so I thought. I explained to her, much to her surprise, I did not have a particular look that I search for as much as I appreciate just overall attractiveness. And equally as important, a woman who comes from a similar circumstance as my own. She said, what does that mean? So I told her that I think that it best that I date someone who comes from a family setting that is similar to my own. Hard working, good values, caring people, functional home environment with loving parents that are preferably together. Sounded pretty solid to me. But that last part……the loving parents that are preferably together. That part. Pissed her off to high heaven! She was steamed that I would say something like that. She went on and on about how everyone doesn’t grow up like that and that I had some nerve to proclaim that people who didn’t have that were not good people to date and that I would forever be alone. She even went on to tell me that her parents were never together and that she is perfectly suitable to be someone’s wife. As I looked at her I thought about what she said and thought………What the hell is this woman talking about?! She asked me what I looked for in a woman and I politely told her what I preferred. But some how she did not hear me used the word prefer. I never spoke in absolutes about the only type of person in the world that is fit to marry. But I did lay out some things that I look for. Some things that I think would help me be happy for the long-term and not just intrigued with the excitement of the here and now.
No one is without some baggage that they have collected in life. Many of us have been affected both positively and negatively by our upbringing. And anyone who has ever taken a psychology class understands the premise that people generally do what they know. If you saw your parents break-up as a child without any sort of attempt at reconciliation that can become how you handle relationships. If you see your father being a violent man who steps out on your mother, then that can become your reality. If you watched your mother being verbally abusive towards your father or being less than affectionate with her children then chances are that sort of spirit and sense of what a regular relationship is can be passed on to you. If your parents were very isolated people who only associated with their immediate family, that can be a problem when you date someone who surrounds themselves with friends and relatives. This is not rocket science. You don’t have to be a genius to see that this stuff is common sense. Just like you don’t have to be a genius to see that these effects and scenarios are not always absolute. We don’t have to be completely handcuffed by our upbringing. But it is imperative that people acknowledge the things from their upbringing that they do not want to bring into their adult life. If you don’t acknowledge that some parts of your upbringing may not have been the way to go, then you will naturally repeat is as a normal part of your life. I value education because my parents do. I value music because my mother encouraged it. I open doors and carry grocery bags because my father did it. I would be a fool to think that I only picked up the best parts of my parents and none of their short-comings.
It would not be my preference to marry a woman who had parents with a bad relationship. It would be my preference to marry a woman who has a close relationship with her extended family the way that I have. It would be my preference to marry a woman who has little to no credit card debt like I have. These things would be my preferences. But in no way am I asserting that people who don’t have these things are not good enough for me to marry. I am simply saying that when people have core differences, couples should explore them and talk about them. See where they will lead. Ask if he thinks it is cool to have 90k of student loan debt that he is not aggressively paying down. Ask her if she thinks it acceptable to never call her ailing grandmother. Ask each other how you feel about working through relationship conflicts as oppose to just throwing in the towel at the first sign of adversity. They may give you answers that are perfectly agreeable and totally aligned with your own perspective. Just make sure that you ASK. Be Aware. There is nothing cool about throwing in the towel because your husband has mommy issues a year into your marriage when you already should have known this stuff before you tied the knot.
People cringe at the highly publicized American 50% divorce rate. And they should. But I would be curious to know how many of those people legitimately talked about their future before getting married. How many of those couples underwent some sort of pre-marital counseling? How many of them looked at each others backgrounds and addressed their personal deficiencies and asked their future spouse if these are things that you can accept about me and help me improve upon? Relationships are serious, and it just doesn’t seem like people are approaching them in that way. People spend more time investigating the ins and outs of buying a car or house than they do assessing the compatibility of a mate. And unfortunately none of this will guarantee a couples future happiness. Sometimes people change and things just don’t work out………But damnit! You have to admit that it certainly would improve the odds. Improve your odds of being in that 50% success rate and not part of that 50% failure rate.