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Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person
MAY 28, 2016 | The New York Times | By ALAIN de BOTTON.

We all fear marrying the wrong person...Partly, it’s because we have many latent problems that emerge when we try to get close to others (we seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”)....The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. ...Our partners are no more self-aware although we make a stab at trying to understand them....we seek a (false) sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t.....What matters in the marriage of feeling--romantic love--is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right.....we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. ...as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy....We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable.....Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us....We marry to make joyful sensations permanent but fail to see that there is no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage....The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person. We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding "romantic love" idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning....swap the Romantic Love view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we're willing to sign up for.

This philosophy of pessimism--thinking tragically--offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person.

Romantic Love has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.
Communicating_&_Connecting  conflict_resolution  disagreements  disappointment  expectations  forgiveness  generosity  grace  humour  imperfections  intimacy  marriage  perspectives  pessimism  relationships  romantic_love  serving_others  thinking_tragically 
may 2016 by jerryking
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