Is Marrying the Wrong Person Avoidable?

This article discusses all the reasons we may end up marrying the wrong person.

Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

If that sounds bleak, consider for a moment the trope of the whirlwind romance. Our instinct that we should be with another person often overrides all reason regarding the logistics of the situation. Maybe both partners are very young, the relationship is new, or there are preexisting financial problems. Perhaps because of human history’s past of arranged and advantageous marriages resulting in unhappiness, modern couples often avoid even acknowledging reasons the partnership might not work long term. We have embraced the romanticism of marrying for love and the spark that drives us to be with our partner is reason enough. But when the fantasy wears off we’re blindsided by serious growing pains.

There are a number of other reasons we marry too soon or marry the wrong person. We are driven to avoid loneliness, we seek the familiarity of strong family ties from our childhood, and we want a way to capture the joyful moments of our relationship and make them permanent. Unfortunately, life is full of changes, no two people can be happy all the time, and at times we will all be lonely.

The problem in the end isn’t marrying the wrong person. The problem is having unrealistic expectations. Romanticism tells us that if we find the right person, they will meet all of our needs and everything will be perfect. Thus, if we’re struggling and experiencing all the normal problems of two humans trying to share a life together we may feel we must be with the wrong person. In fact the beauty in a good marriage is continuing to work to be compatible, to be compassionate, and to continue to make the choice to move forward together.

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. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition

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