24 years ago my husband and I married, to the reserved dismay of our families, after an 8 day engagement. Yesterday my niece linked to a lengthy article “On marrying the wrong person”. I think the upshot was that marriage used to be dynastic, then it was romantic, but we need to start regarding it as psychological. It listed many potential symptoms of a poor match, but I don’t know if the root cause of this is accessible to the majority of people.

I would blame personality disorders, which it seems to me a characteristic of American society both due to our pluralism, our acquisitiveness and our entertainment media. But you don’t really learn much about personality disorders even in psych 101. I was scanning my daughters textbook the other day and it only really discussed Antisocial personality disorder and presented it as having a high correlation with criminality. I guess that is a principle clinical concern, but alpha figures in politics and enterprise also display the strange blend of charm, risk taking and callousness.

The thing about personality disorders is they seem to be maladaptive exaggerations of normal personality traits such as loyalty, perfectionism, caution or autonomy. In class we learned of them as pervasive and inflexible. Though on the other hand some consistency and stability is also essential. It’s not so much a matter of the content of someone’s personality, but whether they can adapt and accommodate.

Our Sunday school teacher, who is a psychology professor by day, dug out a talk by Thomas S. Monsoon from 1972, “Finishers Wanted.” And I guess that’s as close to a universal measure of marriage, do you endure? He listed 6 characteristics of finishers: vision, effort, faith, virtue, courage and prayer.

I do sometimes worry that I married the wrong person. For years I tried my best to be the right person. Right this second I think marriage might be a bit like one of those video games my husband is playing right now. What makes it fun is that it seems impossible but you know there has to be at least one way through.


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