My husband and I are now in the stage of life where we attend fewer weddings and more baby showers. And while the sum total of my baby knowledge could barely fill a G.I. Joe thermos, I happily admit that I am a connoisseur of connubial bliss.
Having been wed for nearly thirteen years as well as a witness to both successful unions and those whose endings made the Hindenburg look like a deflated hot air balloon, I can tell you there are certain things that are non-negotiable when it comes to a happy marriage.
I’m not talking about the trivial things like socks on the floor or who puts gas in whose car*. I’m talking about five most essential elements that must exist in total harmony—those things that make up what I call “The Shuriken of Marital Success.”
1. Politics–This and my second point are the obvious, the ones most people know to be true, but stick with me. If you’re young and in love (AKA “deliberatley stupid”), you think you’re little Snoogly Woogly’s political leanings aren’t as important as washboard abs or an esoteric iTunes playlist. To you, those voting tendencies are something that can be left outside like a yowling cat. The trouble is that, over time, the cat slips in between someone’s legs and takes a proverbial crap in your shoes. If you’re conservative, I highly suggest you marry someone who’s as red as you are. If the thought of being red makes you blue, go out there and find the jackass of your dreams! Other than Mary Matalin and James Carville, I’ve never known a couple comprised of political polar opposites who survived. If you’re not sure about your views, you might want to take care of those before you settle down “til death do us part” style.
2. Religion–This is the other given on my list, but even I (in my more naive days) believed it to be inconsequential. To me, it was one of those things my future hubby and I would just “figure out” as we grew old together. As a result, I dated a Mormon, two Catholics, a convert to Judaism, a Jehovah Witness, and (albeit briefly) a surprisingly Type-A Wiccan who faithfully observed all eight Sabbats and made the purchase of marijuana a part of his monthly budget. Thankfully, however, all of these little flings didn’t end in a legal union because, having caught up with quite a few of them via social media, I realize that living with them would be impossible now.
Granted, a Methodist and a Baptist can likely marry and have a perfectly happy life together because the basics are covered, but when you disagree on your choice in deity, you’ll soon find out you’re in for a world of hurt. After all, it’s much easier to put a bumper sticker on your car than it is to share a bathroom with a practitioner of a neighboring symbol. (Especially when he or she drinks the last of the milk or forgets to pay the cable bill on time.)
3. Intelligence–I know this is going to make me sound like a terrible person, but you and your spouse need to have IQs that live in the same neighborhood if you want your marriage to have a long shelf life. Trust me on this. I’ve dated men much smarter than I and ended up feeling like a third-grader covered in paste and glitter at a Mensa meeting. I’ve also dated men who were just short of needing help cutting up their food, and that wasn’t pretty either.
I’d say anything within a ten point spread should be safe, but if you go beyond that green zone, be prepared for frustration. Your intellegences need not be identical however. For instance, I score higher on logic and verbal skills while Wayne rocks anything to do with mathematics. (But we both kick it like Beastie Boys when it comes to spatial reasoning.) I’d say we’re truly paronymous…but I know he’d think of us as being more equilateral.
4. Socioeconomic Status–I know, I know, I know…despite the copious amount of fairy tale pablum being produced in Hollywood, most relationships that feature lovers from opposite sides of the tracks end up with getting someone cut in half…emotionally speaking at least. Pretty in Pink, The Notebook, Pretty Woman, Roman Holiday, and The Breakfast Club—they all give you a serious case of the warm fuzzies. I mean, seriously, if you possess two X chromosomes and don’t get a thrill when Bender takes Clarie’s diamond earring as his own, then go see a doctor… STAT.
However, real life is nothing like Saturday detention. Hookers (even those with hearts of gold) stand a better chance of being picked up by a serial killer than a kindly millionaire. The truth is that most cross-status relationships end of like that between Daniel-san and Ali (Remember the beginning of The Karate Kid, Part II?) or Jack and Rose (Like you didn’t know that tragic ending was coming!)
As with IQ, there is an acceptable range. Upper middle and lower middle can get together and get along with little fuss, so can lower and lower middle and even upper middle and upper. Any more degrees of separation than that, and you can expect family get-togethers to be awwwkkwwaarrddd! I warn you, if your idea of a fancy party involves cocktail weenies swimming in a Crock-Pot full of grape jelly and bar-b-q sauce, I’d advise you not to date someone who knows the difference between Beluga and Sterlet caviar. It won’t end well.
They serve caviar on mother of pearl spoons to avoid tainting the flavor. Seriously!? Who lives at that speed!?
5. Hotness–And here’s where I’m going to sound like a total jerkette, and I’m okay with that. Why? Because, once again, I speak from a deep reservoir of personal experience on this. I dated a man in college who was so far out of my league when it came to appearance that people must have thought he was on a pity date (or was the best Wing Man of all time). If we were peppers and our hotness ranked on the Scoville Scale, I was barely a Jalapeno. He, on the other hand, was Trinidad Scorpion. Ironically, I ended up dumping him several months into the relationship because I felt so unbearably awkward when we were out together in public that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I also dated a man who was about four inches shorter than I, and I spent most of our evenings together sitting down to avoid feeling like Lurch. Granted, he was a pilot in the Air Force, but that didn’t make the dancing any less awkward.
If you’ve got a muffin top, a lazy eye, or webbed feet, I highly suggest finding someone with a similarly interesting imperfection and hugging, kissing, and squeezing that person for all he or she is worth. We all know that beauty is more than skin deep, but there’s also something to be said for being comfortable in yours at all times.
What about you? Do you have any “unbreakable rules” when it comes to choosing Mr. or Mrs. Right? I’d love to hear your thoughts and those stories that taught you the value of selectivity! Share them in the comments section below!
* It’s obvious that the husband is always responsible for pumping gas regardless of how independent and self-reliant a wife might be.