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February 29, 2016

Getting married? Better know what you're getting into.

The idea of marriage and the ideals of a relationship are sold to many using fairy tales. I don’t know the history behind classic fairy tales, but I imagine they were created to provide the commoners something to aspire to. Life sucked in the olden days and the average farm girl knee-deep in horse sh!t needed hope that she would be rescued by her white knight.

I remember my kindergarten teacher (back in the late 1970s) asking the class what they wanted to be when they grew up. Almost all the girls said ‘mother’, which by normal course of events also implies ‘wife’. The boys all said fireman, policeman, or something of that nature. For some odd reason, I stated I wished to become a taxi driver, a goal that thankfully remained unfulfilled (although, some days it sounds like a great alternative to whatever it is I’m currently doing). The point is that there was something engrained in the psyche of these girls that made the thought of motherhood and family life appealing. I suppose some combination of nature and nurture was responsible, as girls today tend to answer the question differently. Despite the replacement of ‘homemaker Barbie’ with ‘astronaut Barbie’, the biological limits to female reproduction remain an incessant impetus for pair-bonding. Men, on the other hand, don’t suffer these biological limits and pursue self-domestication like they have all the time in the world.

That is…until some well-curved, nice-smelling, smart gem seduces him into believing she’s the one.

Fact: there is no such thing as ‘the one’. However, there is such a thing as ‘close enough’. There is research that I have stumbled upon that actually suggests that marriages are more successful when one pairs with the first person they meet who is close enough to what they’re looking for. I believe this is because these people have realistic expectations. Those searching for ‘the one’ either never find ‘the one’, or when they do they discover after a few years that they were in fact wrong. Even ‘the one’ occasionally gets grossly sick, says stupid things, forgets you like your eggs over-easy and flicks tooth gunk on the mirror while flossing. It is important to remember that people are annoying, imperfect and sure to disappoint before diving into marriage. Expect an ordinary experience and you will more likely have a long marriage.

Despite what you see on TV, marriage goes beyond romance. Romance brought the pair together – and ideally should be nurtured throughout the relationship – but marriage is more than that. A long term pair bond is an economic relationship and a form of physical security more than anything else. Marriage generates enormous efficiency in child rearing, housing and food preparation. The family structure also ensures people live in groups, which provides security against violence, assistance with illness and disability, and helps set behavioural norms to guide human interaction. A married couple is the nucleus around which other members of the family revolve.

In summary, you need to know what you’re getting into when you get married. You need to understand that nobody is perfect and you will need to compromise in order to have a successful marriage. You also must know that marriage goes beyond romance – it is the foundation for a family, and all the economic, security and social benefits that come with it.

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