Finding The Right Person To Marry
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
"the marriage doctors"
Authors of the “Best Relationship Book of 2008” INDIE Book Awards Gold Medal Winner
Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
Available at GoldenAnniversaries.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and at Bookstores
On July 6, Maureen Down wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times entitled, "An Ideal Husband." Let us say up front that we do not often share the views of Ms. Dowd as we believe her musings tend to be on both the negative and the cynical sides of life, and as you know, we take a much more positive approach when we talk about love and relationships. So what did she say that has us riled? Here’s what.
In her article, Ms. Dowd extensively quotes Father Pat Connor, a 79-year old Catholic priest, born in Australia and based in Bordentown, New Jersey, on his views about finding the ideal husband. In summary here are the thoughts of Father Connor:
1. "Never marry a man who has no friends,"
2. "Does he use money responsibly?
3. "Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to
4. "Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings?
5. "Does he have a sense of humor?
6. "A therapist friend insists that 'more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.”
The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive.”
7. "Don't marry a problem character thinking you will change him.”
8. "Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being - the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous?”
Father Connor concludes by saying, "After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: 'But you've eliminated everyone!' Life is unfair."
On the surface, all of this seems fun – it seems like good advice. But here is where the Father and Maureen Dowd go wrong – while some of the advice seems good at first glance it has five primary problems:
1. It is not based on any research that would support the notions expounded by the Father (Some of the ideas seem plausible on the surface, but do not pass the research test).
2. It makes love sound like it is some kind of litmus test – some kind of quiz you give to the one you are falling in love with. (Trust us, a quiz of someone you purport to love about these ideas could be a real turnoff!).
3. It belittles and disparages men – it makes it sound as if love is only a one-way street
(i.e., she decides as if HE has no choice in the matter).
4. At the risk of offending some of our readers – a celibate priest is not the best
judge of what makes for a successful marriage.
5. And finally, on what basis would you judge his answers to the aforementioned questions?
We have studied successful marriage for over 25 years. We report our findings in our new book entitled, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage (©2008). Of the many discoveries we have made over the years, we know this – finding the one you want to marry is not as simple as Father Connor and Maureen Dowd would like for you to believe. There are no simple questions to ask or elixirs to take. And frankly, with regard to the eight ways that are suggested to find the right husband, what are those answers supposed to be? How do we determine the right answers?
More than anything, finding the one you want to marry is, in the end, a matter of the heart. We believe there are better ways to determine if you have found the right person to marry and if you will read our article entitled How Will I Know I Am In Love? you will find out what they are.
Here are some simple truths:
1. Many men are shy, some are loners, and many are careful whom they select as friends. That doesn’t mean they have no friends, but could be construed that way by the unknowing person as just that.
2. Using money responsibly is important to a marital relationship, no question about it. On the other hand, how does one define responsible use of money? Remember, what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. In a successful marriage, financial decisions are shared decisions. The successfully married couple ultimately decides what the standard for responsible use of money is.
3. As to running someone’s life, what exactly does that mean? Do not mistake accommodation and acquiescence to your desires as a weakness in a man. Most men have learned to pick and choose their battles. More often than not, when it matters, he will stand up to your demands. Letting you have your way is not a weakness, it is usually a sign of respectfulness from a man. Don’t misinterpret his meaning.
4. Virtually all good men love their mothers. Big deal! And frankly, the old adage that men “marry their mothers” is in many ways true. Their mother’s nurtured them, loved them, cared for them, held their hand, and supported them in time of need. Men could count on their mother’s trust. The notion of an “apron string” is, in fact, mythical in most cases.
5. A good humor is a fine trait in a man. But on the other hand, dismissing everything important with humor is not necessarily a good trait. Laughing off things that are serious isn’t funny. Using cutting or biting humor in their interactions with you is not a virtue.
6. We are baffled by the notion that “the strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive.” Where in the world did this notion come from? Many men are quietly strong. Don’t confuse being quiet with being weak. Many men carefully choose their words, promulgate their thoughts before they speak, avoid arguments and heated discussions for fear of escalation. These are not negative characteristics. Sure, communication is at the heart of most loving relationships, but communication is many faceted. Talking is only one form. Remember, judge a man by his actions and not by his words.
7. It is true that it is very hard to change a person when they become an adult. And yes, it is a bad idea to marry someone who is not “a man of character” and then thinking you can change him into becoming one. On the other hand, imagine all of the men of the world who would have missed out on so many of life’s opportunities if they did not meet a loving, nurturing, and supportive women who helped them become a better person by overcoming their shortcomings. Lost souls find their way many times because of the love of a women. To suggest that women should run away from men who are still finding their way in life is silly – and destructive.
8. Good men do forgive, give praise, and are courteous. But praise for a bad deed, forgiveness for the unforgivable, and courteousness to those who abuse them or cheat on them, are not virtues. And sometimes, men use these “traits” to get things they don’t deserve. There are no black or whites answers here. In the end, the actions of a man speak far more loudly than his words.
Finding the right person to marry is not simple and there are no magic answers. The love between two people develops differentially, of that you can be sure. But in the end, being in love is the prerequisite to everything in a marital relationship. If you understand when you are truly in love all things are possible.
Now you can order the Doctors' award winning book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com or from their website with FREE DVDs. With 25 years of research experience on successful marriage and their own 41-year marriage, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz know what makes marriage work. From their hundreds of interviews with happily married couples, representing 15,000 years of marriage, they've discovered the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. Their book exposes the secrets for success through these poignant, real life stories.
During their distinguished careers the Doctors have received some 60 local, state, and national awards; published nearly 200 articles and manuscripts; delivered over 1000 speeches, workshops and public presentations; traveled throughout the world; and appeared on radio and television and in the print media. Dr. Charles D. Schmitz is Dean and Professor of Family and Counseling Therapy at the University of Missouri in St. Louis and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz is President of Successful Marriage Reflections, LLC.
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