Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Marriageability Quiz

In connection with my elaborate theory governing the dynamics of dating and marriage -- and the probability of success in these activities -- I thought of a simple quiz to help distinguish a marriageable individual from an unmarriageable one, or at least one who hasn't yet reached the state of marriageability.

The quiz has three questions, and its success depends on the person being interrogated not knowing the nature of the latter questions while answering the earlier.  So, it is probably best given verbally.

Here goes:

Question 1:  What qualities are you looking for in a man/woman?  List at least 5, preferably in some rough order of importance.

Question 2:  What qualities are most important in a wife/husband?  Again, list at least 5.

And, the clincher:

Question 3:  Why is there any substantial difference between your two lists?

The content of the two lists is relatively unimportant.  The critical point is that they should be substantially the same lists without an extremely good reason for any differences.  Someone who is composing two entirely different lists, or who thinks that the second question is illegitimate because anyone can be a good husband or wife if paired with the right person is unmarriageable and fails the test.

For example, a person who says that she is looking for a man who is tall, intelligent and good-looking, but says that what is important in a husband is honesty, strength, and devotion, suffers from cognitive dissonance and is inherently unmarriageable.  This is fairly typical.  What she is implicitly saying is "I have an idea what makes for a good husband and what is important in marriage, but I don't really care right now.  I'm not actually looking for a good husband.  I am still a childish person; at best I am only pretending that marriage is important to me or to be interested in a serious relationship.  It is more important to me to satisfy my immediate wants than that I make wise decisions, even if it means possibly hurting myself or other people and trivializing important things.  I am not mature enough to exert sufficient self-control to make a good partner, as evidenced by my unwillingness to make good choices that interfere with my immediate impulses, and if you are a serious person, you are probably wasting your time with me."

This is why it is not so important what the content of the lists actually consists of.  I doubt that anyone really knows unambiguously and for certain what qualities make for a good partner.  I certainly don't.  The point is that you start to become a good partner when you recognize that they exist and commit yourself to begin conforming to them.  Even if you don't know what they are, or think that you do but are actually wrong, you have still made the critical transition -- you are subordinating yourself and your own will to what is important.

The test of marriageabilty is whether or not the person has arrived at the conclusion that 1) his own preferences must be subordinated to the necessities of the relationship in order for it to have any chance to succeed, and 2) a certain fixed set of qualities are necessary for a relationship to work between two people.  These two taken together imply 3) that the person in question will consciously be making an effort to conform himself to this set of qualities as he understands them, and will have wised up to the fact that he must be looking for someone else who understands this, even if such a person isn't actually all that much like himself and doesn't appear superficially to be compatible with him.  A person who is marriageable will consciously be looking for someone else who is marriageable, and not someone who satisfies his particular whims and tastes.  He has recognized that his tastes are relatively unimportant to the success of marriage, and has changed or overridden his tastes in recognition of this fact.

I almost added two more questions about the person's own characteristics, but then I realized that this would be difficult to word in such a way as to make it an informative question, and besides, was unnecessary.  By demonstrating that he has brought his own priorities in line with what he thinks is right in terms of who he is looking for, the marriageable person has already demonstrated that he is willing to change himself to conform to the characteristics necessary to be a good mate.  He has already proven as far as can reasonably be expected that he will make a good mate in the future, by doing exactly the thing that it will take to have a good marriage before he was even married -- to pursue his own growth and maturity, and to have the strength to change.

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