Category Archives: Marriage

How to meet your future spouse

While reading an article on loneliness and whether Americans really are more lonely today than in past generations (answer: probably not), I came across to a reference to a research paper on how people meet their romantic partners. Now, the manuscript says right at the top, “do not cite without permission”, so I’m not going to link to the manuscript. You can click over from the article on loneliness if you want to read it. All data below is culled from that manuscript.

How do spouses originally meet?

Friends: In the past, couples met through friends (~40% in 1990). Today, less than 30% meet through friends, but it’s still the most likely way to meet a future partner.
Online: Works for about 22% of us.
College: About 11% of us met our spouses in college.
Family: This used to be the most common method, but today it is less than 10%.
Primary & secondary school: A huge shift from 21% in the 1940s to about 5% today.

Who has highest quality relationships?

That would be couples who met in church or in primary or secondary school, followed by those who met online. Those who met through family are less likely to rate the quality of their relationship as high.

Who is more or less likely to break up?

Couples who met in church or primary or secondary school are less likely to break up. Couples who met online are also less likely to breakup. Couples who meet through friends are more likely to break up.

Who most benefits from online dating?

Gays, lesbians, and older heterosexuals. This is because they are less likely to live in environments that contain other eligible singles in their demographic.

In sum: We’ve done away with matchmaking by family. If you met at church, you are probably in a great relationship – but good luck finding a spouse in that environment; it doesn’t say how many people meet in church, but it’s probably less than 7%. Meeting through friends is very common but also more prone to breakups. And online dating is a good way to meet a future spouse, especially if you’re in a niche demographic.

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Getting over an ex

I don’t like getting too personal on this blog, but since I write on occasion about my friends and acquaintances, I suppose it’s only fair to divulge about my personal life at times. So here’s a tale about getting over one’s ex.

About 5 months ago I broke up with someone with whom I’d had a really intense romance. 3 months into the relationship, when it became apparent that it wasn’t going to work out in the long run, I broke up with him. I was very torn up about this decision but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’ve spent this winter largely getting to a good place again. (N.B:Writing this blog helped)

Last weekend I ran into him at a bar. I was stunned to see him and while I didn’t interact him beyond nodding at him, later, one of his friends came up to me and gave me the 3rd degree. Apparently my ex had been discussing exes right before I walked in. The friend said that my ex had really liked me, why did I hate him? I did not, and told the friend so. So why did I break up with him, why did I “murder his heart”?  I gave him my reasons for breaking it off and he seemed satisfied.

Folks, if your own friends won’t defend you from charges of selfishness, it’s time to examine your life.

I spent the next few days in a funk, wondering if I had made a mistake, wondering we could make it all work out after all. A couple times I almost emailed him.

Serendipitously, a person that I’ve known online for 3 years came to town last weekend. I met up with him on Monday. Pretty quickly he became flirtatious and made a point that he wanted to see me again during his visit.

Wednesday, I was still tormented about my ex. That evening I met up with this new friend. He made it clear by the end of the evening that he was quite smitten. While I have no idea where this friendship is going, I am grateful that at the very least it has helped me to realize just how wrong for me my ex was. I won’t go into too much detail but the main difference is that I am religious; my ex was not. It is such a relief to go on a date with someone who shares your religious views (core value for me) right from the start.

It doesn’t mean my new friend is The One, but whoever The One is 1. sure wasn’t my ex and 2. I won’t have to feel like I’m hiding who I am from him.

Auntie Seraphic writes touchingly about barriers around your heart in an older blog post:

In marriage, there are not supposed to be barriers in your hearts. But I had to construct a barrier around the part called “Roman Catholic”, and it was a very big part. If we had gotten along in other ways, and loved each other, and treated each other decently, which we certainly did not do, there would still have been a barrier around the part of my heart called “Roman Catholic”. I would have had to keep it there to guard against my natural wish to please my husband, and he would have been most pleased if I had skipped Catholic Masses in favour of Anglican services and ignored Catholic doctrine about the transmission of life.

Having the same core values means being able to be fully intimate with your spouse, confident that you’re using the same foundations to build your lives together.

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Semi-unsolicited advice

To the person who reached this blog by searching for “should i marry someone unrealiable”?

No. If you want to increase your chances for having a happy marriage, marry an adult. Cut your losses and move on.

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The Mating/Marriage Dance amongst young, educated Americans

The Institute for American Values did a very interesting talk titled “The Mating/Marriage Dance: Is the Prolonged Search for a Mate by Young College Graduates a Problem for American Society?” with Kay S Hymowitz and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. If you want to watch it, you may do so here.

Here are my notes:

Kay Hymowitz wrote her book after she noticed romantic discontent and despair, amongst  education 20-something females. That’s when women start to feel really anxious about finding a good man to marry. They were great catches, so why were they worried? For women, the romantic despair comes from not knowing.

In doing research for the book she found that there was an upheaval in the system of courtship that had been in place for certuries. In its place came the “relationship system”.  We went from romantic courtship with a clear destination to marriage to some call “relationships”.

The differences are huge. In the romantic courtship system (RCS), the population that is involved almost exclusively is young, never married men and women. The destination is marriage. The relationship system includes just about anybody under the sun who is looking for a partner (young, old, single, divorced, married people who want “something on the side”). With the RCS, there’s a series of clearly defined steps, the “ladder of commitment”. In the relationship system, people are constantly moving in and out of relationships which are of varying duration and commitment.

Young women go through many of these relationships that have no destination in mind.

Now we have a new stage in development, pre-adulthood. This lasts from early 20s to mid 30s. It has lead to a different set of problems for men than from women.

Women have a clock in the back of their heads going “tick-tock tick-tock”. Even if they haven’t decided by 25 whether they want to get married and have kids, they know that the decision needs to be made within the next few years. Men don’t have this same sense and when they do think about that same decision, it’s typically way down the line. They don’t see a problem with waiting until 35 or 40. So women hit 25, 27, are ready to get married but men are in no rush to commit. Disillusioned, women assumed it would unfold naturally.

We have the reverse problem today than previous generations. It used to be easy to pair off during college while the career path (for women) was harder to discern. But today it’s hard to find someone who wants to commitment but easy to find a career path. How do you meet the right man to marry? This is a great puzzle for women today.

Growing up, men were taught that women could do anything men could do and that women should be treated with respect. Gender-neutral society was the ideal. But they found that women didn’t like that when it came to dating. The complaint of the nice guy was that they treat women well but then they go for the jerks instead.

The loss of the script, no one knows how you’re supposed to behave, unless you naturally have a great deal of social skill, you’re going to have a hard time. A lot of guys don’t get what you’re supposed to be doing.

Women respond to confidence but these guys had no idea how to project confidence.

With the loss of the classic courtship model, we’ve lost a lot of male initiative. In fact, in order to get married, the burden is on the woman to push the guy that she’s been in a long-term relationship with to get there. She sees her job as turning a live-in boyfriend into a husband.

If females and males are equals as we have been told since childhood, then why is it up to the guy to take initiative to ask women out? So they don’t, and women become frustrated.

Who pays for dinner? A lot of single, childless women make more than men, but then still want men to pay for the meal.

Institutions are no longer vested in getting people to meet each other and get married. Onus used to fall on families, schools, religious institutions. On a larger scale, today young people are not rooted anywhere; they live their lives very autonomously.

Young women, 5-10 years out of college and having had a few relationships that ended badly tend to become suspicious, leery of men and romance. (Harden their hearts). It adds to the gender conflict.

For a few of these women, they are not going to be able to overcome this; they will chose to have children alone. A number of women are going to remain single and a number of men as well. They will be disconnected from family life. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a huge social problem. It’s the people without a college education (read: lower classes) that are not getting married. Most college-educated people in America get married (about 80%).

There is no prescription by Kay S Hymowitz and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead to help create a modern courtship script; that is something that will have to develop naturally.

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It’s not enough to be in love

“But it’s not enough to be in love. It’s about how you spend your days, what you do together, who you choose as friends, and most of all it’s what work you do. I’m a dancer. I need to dance. If I give it up to spend my life wrapping pork pies and weighing apples, I will come to resent him. And even though he says I can dance as well, he expects me to be his partner in the shop. He would come to resent me, too. Better to break both our hearts now than watch them wither away over time.”

– Helen Simonson

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Conscientiousness is not enough

I am reading a book titled “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand“. The Major is a classic Englishman, a model of conscientiousness. He believes in duty. He values people who are themselves sensible.

***PLOT SPOILER***

Continue reading

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What personality trait should you seek in a spouse?

From Barking up the Wrong Tree, What personality trait should you seek in a spouse?

While previous research points to a central role of neuroticism, our findings suggest that conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction in this sample of long-wed couples.

But what the heck does conscientiousness mean? Let’s check wikipedia:

Conscientiousness is the trait of being painstaking and careful, or the quality of acting according to the dictates of one’s conscience. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement. It is an aspect of what has traditionally been called character. Conscientious individuals are generally hard working and reliable. When taken to an extreme, they may also be workaholics, perfectionists, and compulsive in their behavior. People who are low on conscientiousness are not necessarily lazy or immoral, but they tend to be more laid back, less goal oriented, and less driven by success.

Conscientiousness = Character. So when evaluating whether to marry someone, it is useful to observe how s/he treats people, not just you. Are they honest? Loyal? How do they act when the going gets tough? Do their long-time friends and family seem to think highly of them? Those are things to look out for.

Pay attention to what they do. That’s who a person really is.

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