What Buying a Car Can Teach You About Who to Marry

When my daughter was preparing to go to college, we had to shop for a reliable car to transport her around her temporary new community. She had been looking for just the right car for a long time and she could tell us exactly what she wanted and why. She had done an impressive amount of research!

Knowing what she wanted ahead of time really made the decision-making process more efficient and effective and much less stressful. We didn’t have to visit every dealership in town and subject ourselves to high-pressure sales pitches. In fact, the probability of high satisfaction was greatly increased because she had a clear picture of what she was looking for.

If people put this amount of time and effort into knowing what they really want in a spouse, I believe the divorce rate would fall way below 50 percent and they would be a lot more satisfied with their choices. Oh, I know, you can give a lot of thought to who you want as a mate and still end up with a lemon – there are situations where someone doesn’t show their “true colors” until after the ceremony. But those are more often the exception. However, the more time you spend exploring who you are as a person and what you like or dislike, admire, respect and need, the less likely it is that you will be disappointed in the long run.

If you are looking for a partner, make a comprehensive list of the qualities, traits and other variables you desire to have in your husband or wife and review it regularly. Consider your own values, religious beliefs, parenting priorities, holiday expectations, hobbies, travel, spending habits, appearance and personality. Give careful thought to qualities that should be similar in a potential spouse (e.g. both of you enjoy traveling) and which would be better if they’re different (e.g. if you are a “spender” it can be helpful to marry someone who is a “saver” so you can keep your finances balanced.)

Think carefully about what items on your wish-list are non-negotiable and which are more flexible. Talk about these issues if you begin dating someone you view as a potential spouse. Couples are sometimes shocked to discover differences in expectations that seemed unimportant while they were dating, but became major conflicts later. For example, once children arrive and your parents become grandparents, the amount of time spent with each side of the family (especially during holidays) can explode into hurt feelings and misunderstandings. With in-laws being one of the top challenges to marriage, one item to include on your list is a shared commitment to making your marriage a priority over other family relationships.

While you cannot predict everything that could possibly go wrong or create conflict in your marriage – and while even the most “perfect” marriages experience conflict – a lot of pain and frustration can be avoided with some careful consideration today.

Just like shopping for a car, knowing what you want and need in advance will help you find a much better balance between your level head and your impulsive heart before you say, "I do".

Live, Work & Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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