A discussion with some colleagues over lunch left me wondering if I could distill my learnings from married life (mine and others’) into a thumb-rule or a litmus test?
In my time, I’ve seen many a marriage fail and succeed. And, I know that there can’t be a surefire check or a formula to make it work. But, surely, there could be some pointers to get a newly-engaged couple get started in the right direction?
And then it hit me! Compatibility in a married relationship critically depends on at least two things:
1. How each of you likes to spend your money
2. How each of you likes to spend your free time
Sure, there’s a lot more to a successful marriage than that. But, I strongly suspect that if the two of you are broadly compatible on these two issues, you have a strong chance of making your marriage last. And, I don’t just mean that you have to “exactly” agree on your answers. Just that your answer shouldn’t make your partner tear his/her hair out!
Remember, tying the knot is just the beginning of your journey, not the end. Anil Dash makes this point quite nicely on his blog:
Once you get to the point where you know you’re ready to get married, though, there’s a lot of logistics. And I think it’s probably stressful for most people. Everything I’d seen on television or movies or magazines seemed so much more focused on people getting “weddinged” than on getting married. If you tell people you’re engaged, they start talking to you about that one day, and almost never about the other half century you’re signing up for. More couples probably pay for wedding planners than for marriage counselors, and I think the allotment of resources there shows in a lot of marriages…
The sad truth is, when it comes time to get married, people talk about arbitrary (or tacky!) traditions and what kind of dessert you’re going to have and who’s sitting at what table. But they don’t talk about whether the couple really tells each other the truth, whether they agree about things like kids and family, and whether they’ve ever honestly discussed money and finances. If those things don’t sound romantic to you, then maybe you’re not doing it right.
Someone wise once remarked, “All relationships are in a constant state of decay, and need continual nurturing”. So, once you’ve found the right someone, you still need to invest in nurturing that relationship to make it last a lifetime.
I wish you all the best in your journey… May the force be with you!
Anil Dash’s excellent essay In Defense of Marriage