Marriage: two perspectives

September 21, 2018

Two views on marriage.

One: you meet someone, "fall in love", and maybe decide to get married. It's quite romantic view—"follow your heart"—and be sure to find "the one". This seems to be the view popular in mainstream American culture; the big thing seems to be personal chemistry, and feelings. If it doesn't "feel right", or "the spark isn't there anymore", get a divorce.

A different view: find someone compatible (often with advice/help of family), then get married after deciding to make it work—rely on willpower, family support, and being a good partner, not "love". In this view, "falling in love" is of secondary importance; something that happens after many years of marriage, not a first-class prerequisite. The idea is that if one focuses on being a great parter each day, one can effect a great marriage through desire and work, much like planting flowers in a garden. Caroline and I call this view, "falling in love in the marriage", and we see it more often in friends from India and China.

I grew up with the romantic Ameican view, but have come to understand the thinking and wisdom behind the second. It helps if you like the person you marry, but ultimately, feelings come and go; it's actions, and the decision to be a good spouse, that are most visible, day-to-day. Also, conduct—how you act, what you choose to do—is a lot easier to control, than how you feel.