My independently financed study of the successful and unsuccessful marriages of people I know reveal that the best way to have a happy marriage is to marry someone like yourself. Our oldest son is a Yuppie who married a Yuppie. Our oldest daughter, a granola, married a granola. Our recluse daughter married a recluse and Technie married a fellow geek. All four couples appear reasonably contented. Our independent, ambitious daughter married a needy, dependent guy. They are now divorced.
The problem with marrying someone like yourself is that people often marry before they’ve lived long enough to know who they really are. My nonconformist brother, Dooby, married Cecily while both were college students and she was rebelling against her strict Mormon upbringing. As soon as Cecily outgrew her post-adolescent rebellion, their marriage foundered. The happy ending for them is that both moved on to find companions more like themselves and now enjoy successful second marriages.
In some cases, marriage itself might be the problem with a relationship. My friend Lark and her husband could not agree on finances. The first thing she did upon their divorce was to buy a nicer house, new furniture, and a new car. They got back together after a few years, but have never remarried. She handles her income and he handles his.
Of course, no young couple ever thinks compatibility issues through before buying a wedding dress-to-die-for and renting a tux. Certainly George and I did not. Like most couples, we married because we had the hots for each other. By the time we discovered that’s not enough to hold a marriage together, we had a bunch of kids to hold together. By the time the kids grew up, we’d each adopted enough of the other’s bad habits to make us totally incompatible with anyone else—but rather endearing to each other.
So, my advice to young people contemplating marriage is: Wait until you’re old enough to know who you are before deciding who to spend your life with. And if you’re really repelled by people like yourself, consider staying single.
For those already in an unhappy marriage: Consider the possibility that marriage itself may be the problem. Tearing up the contract and living in sin may be your best option.