The Marriage Problem

… the problem being: who do you marry?

Since I live in a selfish self-centered crabby world, I generally think of the Marriage Problem as an extension of the Self Problem. That is, I think the process of finding a mate is an extension of the process of self awareness: What kind of person am I, and in turn, what kind of person do I need to make a happy long-lived union?

(for clarity of discussion, I’m ignoring the other person’s happiness because I assume, out of self interest, they seek the same. Also there’s some odd circuitous thinking in loving a person so much that your happiness derives from theirs, that I willfully ignore here…)

In approaching love and romance, I say, to paraphrase the old Crab family saying about our religion, “oh, I’m just Practical.” that is, I’m skeptical of thunderstruck love puppies floating down from heaven, blissed out on cupid’s opiates. Rather, I accept that marriage is a generally happy but pragmatic arrangement rife with compromises and challenges. And I imagine love as some indeterminable calculus that requires puzzling over. Which I do.

Also, I assume that while human people have a capacity to grow, develop, mature, and adapt, human people have their own certain responses to stress, emotion, or new experiences that are so foundational and ingrained in their adult psyche that it is nigh impossible to change. Put conveniently: ya can’t change yer man; gotta love em as they come.

I acknowledge that romantic compatibility is probably some secret concoction of complements and supplements. You both like to read. They plan itineraries while you freestyle it. You run hot while they run cold. They have a caring spirit, while you need adult supervision. You both can use chopsticks.

So the question is: what secret mix of ying and yang is sufficient to wed Ching and Chang together? What’s a deal breaker? What’s an insignificant difference that likely turns into an endearing quirk? what’s a trait that makes you cringe every time it bucks it head.

Are interests and hobbies more important than personality? Or to what extent are one’s interest a reflection of their personality? For example, I guess it’s not really important that someone has seen all six star wars movies, believes that Empires Strikes Back is the undisputed masterpiece of the lot, and knows that Gredo would never ever ever shoot first. But yet what does it say about your character if you never seen a single Star Wars flick?? Could I love a pop culture ascetic that you must be?

A common question often asked by loveless puzzlers such as myself is “How do you know?” How do you know that this is it. This is that person. You are ready. How do you know. That’s an imprecise question (which is often why it’s inanely answered with “you just know”.). The better question would be “How do you know if this is good enough for me?”. Something’s going to be wrong with you, with me, with us, and can I deal. in other words WHAT’S THE THRESHOLD LEVEL OF COMPATIBILITY FOR ME TO COMMIT TO THIS SHIT IN A SEMI PERMANENT MANNER HAVING LONG-TERM SOCIAL, FINANCIAL, and LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS, which sounds more like a due diligence procedure for a government contract than a proper How Do I Love Thee Let me Count The Ways.


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