Look Before You Leap
In about two weeks my brother and his wife will celebrate 40 years of marriage, having tied the knot about four years before I did the same. The older I get, the more grateful I am for the faithfulness of my parents, who were married for 42 years before my mother died.
As in any marriage, they went through rough patches. I’m glad they worked their way through them, since it left me an example of refusing to quit when the going gets tough.
For those who haven’t been to the altar yet, I will tell you what I did our niece’s son who is getting married in mid-May: “At some point in the next few years, you will say to yourself: Why did I ever do this? Don’t worry. That’s normal.”
Meditating on Challenges
I spent recently time meditating on the challenges any couple—but particularly young men—face as they contemplate marriage. The spark came from a new book written by Mary Colbert, 13 Women You Should Never Marry: and how every man can recognize them.
The author is the wife of Dr. Don Colbert, whose bestselling health books have been excerpted in the pages of Charisma, a magazine I’ve written for regularly for 21 years.
A fairly easy read, the book contains the kind of advice I wish I would have been received as a teenager, which is why I plan to pass it on to a young man close to us. I recommend it as a birthday or Christmas gift to your sons, grandsons, or other young males in your life.
Avoiding Trophy Tina
The chapter titles are fairly descriptive of the women men should avoid—people like Blinded Brenda, Trophy Tina, Prideful Patty, Critical Cathy, or Broke Betsy.
About now, some women reading this may have steam coming from their ears. Calm down. One reason I appreciate the book is Mary Colbert’s admission that at various points she has exhibited some of the adverse qualities she outlines.
So she isn’t throwing stones as much as offering a caution to avoid potential spouses who exhibit a quality that will doom any marriage: excessive self-centeredness.
Relying on Appearances
I speak as a man who in my younger (and foolish) days started my list of dating prospects with appearance—which also happens to be the worst criteria for determining whether to form a relationship with another person.
How somebody looks has little to do what kind of person he or she is underneath the outer exterior.
I still remember an attractive bank clerk whose looks would catch most men’s eye. However, when I heard her griping and complaining about co-workers, her looks seemed secondary.
Indeed, while I can only cite gut instinct, I think one reason for sky-high divorce rates is too many people entering marriage without serious contemplation of the potential pitfalls ahead of them. Those little flaws and irritating habits during dating will magnify themselves after the thrills of the ceremony fade—and they will.
Getting it Right
Indeed, as I reflect on my own marriage, I am still amazed that somehow I managed to get it right. To a certain extent, ignorance is bliss, because had I known all the obstacles we would encounter, I may have never said, “I do.”
Still, if Colbert’s book helps more young men to examine their dating choices, and the young women who read it to engage in more self-reflection, it will have performed a great service to society.
Sometimes, the best marriages are those that never happen.