A therapist’s view: How to choose someone to marry

The way we choose someone to marry is completely broken – and here’s why. 

We do interviews and psychometric testing for jobs but when it comes to choosing a life partner, we use a much less rigorous criteria.

People that go into dating with a list are generally frowned upon but there is wisdom in applying reason and good judgement.

It’s not about how much money someone has, or whether they are 6ft tall and attractive.

It’s about values, attitudes, beliefs and fundamental compatibility that extends beyond the physical. 

Marriage used to be an entirely rational and religious institution, if those two concepts can even stand to sit side by side. 

It was about property ownership, bloodlines and familial status.

And then came the age of romance, and the subsequent dismantling of sexual oppression, access to birth control and safe termination of unwanted pregnancies, the rejection of religion and the economic empowerment of women. 

But now we’re in a place where we’re getting married because we want to – and one in two marriages ends in divorce. 

This School of Life article lays it all out plainly. We’re still getting marriage completely wrong. 

Before we go rushing down the aisle, loins aflame, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Are we culturally aligned?
  2. Are we from the same social class?
  3. Do our views on education match? Do we have a similar level of education?
  4. Do we both like to travel? How do we like to spend our holidays?
  5. Do we both want children? If so, how do we think children should be raised? If my partner already has children, do I like them? Do I want to help raise them? How involved am I willing to be emotionally and financially?
  6. What is my attachment style? What is my partner’s attachment style? Are they compatible?
  7. What is my financial position? What is my attitude to money, and spending? Is it compatible with my partner?
  8. What do we value most in life?
  9. What are my political views? Do they align with the political views of my partner?
  10. What are my beliefs around gender roles? Do they align with those of my partner?
  11. What is my attitude to work? Does it align with the views of my partner?
  12. What type of work does my partner do? Is it compatible with my work?
  13. What is my attitude to sex and fidelity? Is it compatible with my partner’s view of sex and fidelity?
  14. What are my Love Languages? What are my partner’s Love Languages?
  15. What is my conflict style? What is my partner’s conflict style? Where does this sit in Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse theory?
  16. What happened in my previous relationship/s? What emotional baggage from past relationships does my partner have?
  17. Do we have a similar attitude to friends and socialising?
  18. Do we have a similar attitude to the role that immediate and extended family plays in our lives?

There are many, many other factors to consider when choosing someone to marry (Do they like spicy or plain food? Do they like hot weather or cold weather? Do they like comedies or horror movies? Are they a morning person or a night person?) but there are some fundamental things you should take into consideration if you are planning to marry someone. 

Marriage is not just an expensive party, followed by a fancy holiday. 

It is funerals and miscarriages. It is hospitals and doctors. It is supermarkets, and cleaning products and electricity bills. 

It is snoring and farting and sex and laughter. 

It is 9am school assembly, kid’s sport on the weekend and Tuesday night stir fry. 

It is every single day of the rest of your life (if it lasts that long). 

Choosing someone to marry is one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll ever make, and it has the capacity to mess up your children (if you have them) and wreak havoc on your finances, your family and your heart. 

If it was a drug, it would be heroin in the beginning, and ice in the end. 

If you get it right, it can save you. If you get it wrong, it can kill you. 

Want to read more about relationships? Click here.

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