Here is an interesting read I came across the interweb in the past few days. A title said it all : “You Will Marry the Wrong Person” and the article itself was featured in the New York Times. Penned by Alain de Botton who co-founded The School of Life in 2008. He has written several books that discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, focusing on philosophy’s relevance to everyday life and offering sound practical advice.
When I first came across the article, I took a deep breath and I start reading it three times. And I found out that Mr. de Botton got it quite right. Many people do marry the wrong person and it all ended either in a very unhealthy lifestyle (mean: cheating on his wife/ her husband) or in worst condition, a divorce.
However, if we go deeper into de Botton’s point of view, the way people do marry the wrong person, because all of us have flaws. And we are more self-aware, the first question perspectives mates would ask each other is: “And how are you crazy?” We don’t recognize we’re all crazy because we often abandoned relationships before they get complicated or, if we live alone, we assume we’re easy to get along with. And our friends and family hesitate to tell us the truth about ourselves. Everyone is psychologically unhealthy to varying degrees. And typically people don’t spent enough time together before committing to another person to know this.
Most people do marry the wrong person for financial or religious reasons. Such marriages were often disastrous and today have been replaced in most of the world with the marriage of feeling or emotion. “What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right.” And while we think we seek happiness in marriage, we often seek something we associated with childhood—like helping a parent or being deprived of their love. And we reject potential partners because they might be “too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable—given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign.”
Another important factor is Loneliness which is another cause of choosing bad partners. If remaining single is unbearable, it isn’t surprising we choose poorly. We might choose anyone just to avoid the fate of remaining single. Another reason we choose poorly is that we want to make the feeling of falling in love seem permanent, but there is “no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.” For marriage isn’t about passionate love; it is about work and strife, money and children.
Yet the good news is that “it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.” We don’t need to abandon our spouse, just the stupid idea of Romantic love—that some perfect person exists who will satisfy all our needs.
Loving is about learning to be more forgiving of our own and others faults. Love isn’t something we fall into, but something we learn to do, as Erich Fromm wrote years ago.