Friday, February 19, 2010

How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy


A fair number of Baha'i Thought readers seem to like discussing relationships and marriage. I just stumbled over an article on The Daily Beast from the authors of a book provocatively titled "How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is He the One or Should You Run". Below are their top five reasons that women date and end up marrying the wrong guy:

1. Loneliness and insecurity.

“I was needy and lacked self-confidence, despite my professional success. I sought to fill that gap with a man.”

Latching on to a man for the sake of latching on will not make you feel better. It might work for awhile, but it won’t last. Want unconditional love? Get a dog or cat instead.

2. Belief that a relationship is a solution to their problems.

“I didn’t want to keep foundering in my life all by myself.”

Don’t look to a man—or a relationship—to solve your problems. Figure out what’s really bothering you—your job, unrealistic expectations of yourself and others, your harried 21st-century lifestyle—and tackle your issues by yourself.

3. External pressures (passing time, friends, family, etc.)

“All my friends were dating seriously. I think I subconsciously planned on getting serious with the next person that came along. It didn’t really matter who it was!”

No one’s opinion matters more than your own. Don’t let outside pressure or some arbitrary timetable dictate your life. It won’t end well.

4. Belief that he will fix her/she will fix him

“I convinced myself I could make any relationship work. I would be whoever I needed to be to make it work.”

It’s not your job to fix him or change him. And you shouldn’t change who you are in order to make any relationship work. If you need something fixed, hire a handyman. If you need to fix yourself, find a good therapist.

5. Ignoring red flags and gut feelings

“Honestly, I always had a gut feeling he wasn’t the right one, even from our first date, but I went with it because he really pursued me.”

Instincts are to relationships what Pepto-Bismol is to indigestion. Your gut feelings are your internal warning system. Ignore them at your own peril. (Read the whole thing here)

I wanted to try something a little different this time. I want readers to have a chance to share their thoughts about this first and then I'll tell you what I think. Why do you think some people end up marrying the wrong person? What can people do to avoid this? Do you agree/disagree with what the authors of this piece are saying?

Update: February 24th

Thanks to everyone who offered your thoughts on this subject. Our success or failure in choosing our marriage partners wisely has serious implications for our lives, our families and perhaps even our souls. Here are some of my thoughts.

Loneliness: Some would say that loneliness is a kind of epidemic in some societies. However, this not simply loneliness for a romantic partner but a sense of deep disconnection from people generally and from God as well. You can feel this kind of loneliness even if you are in a relationship because it can't be cured that way. What's required is a change of consciousness that becomes reflected in changes in behavior: the consciousness of the oneness of humankind and striving to build bonds of love and unity with all people, not just the ones we hope to hook up with:

For this reason must all human beings powerfully sustain one another and seek for everlasting life; and for this reason must the lovers of God in this contingent world become the mercies and the blessings sent forth by that clement King of the seen and unseen realms. Let them purify their sight and behold all humankind as leaves and blossoms and fruits of the tree of being. Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 1)

Relationships as a solution: What's the point of the problems we face in our lives? We have to start with understanding the point of life itself:

'What is the purpose of our lives?'

'Abdu'l-Bahá. -- 'To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom -- from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms, that we may possess the best qualities of the mineral, that we may acquire the power of growing as in the plant, that we may be adorned with the instincts of the animal and possess the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, until from the animal kingdom we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.' (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 176)

Problems provide us with the possibility of acquiring virtues. They are part of the training program for our souls. If we go into a relationship to solve our problems, we are in for a rude awakening because relationships will and should provide us with new problems, new challenges.

Going with your gut: Here's the deal, your gut is not infallible. Feelings are not facts. Your internal warning system may not have been assembled properly. Going with your gut sounds like sage advice only if you don't take these realities into account. I would say that intuition functions most effectively if it's combined with consultation:

Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.
(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 168)

How not to be the wrong guy (or gal): I believe it was Ghandi who said that we have to be the change we want to see in the world. To paraphrase Ghandi, we need to be the person we claim we want to marry.

Say: Honesty, virtue, wisdom and a saintly character redound to the exaltation of man, while dishonesty, imposture, ignorance and hypocrisy lead to his abasement. By My life! Man's distinction lieth not in ornaments or wealth, but rather in virtuous behaviour and true understanding.
(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 57)

Folks are welcome to keep this conversation going.










6 comments:

  1. Phillipe, I haven't been able to comment on your blog lately, but I want to applaud you for taking on this very important issue that obviously your readers care about very deeply. I'll take a jab at the topic: my first reaction is "To thyself be true." More succintly, I'll quote something that you told me over two years ago. "Just do you, Angela, just do you."

    I didn't do me before. I did everything to AVOID myself, or so I thought. And I'm still learning about me, or rather, becoming closer to my goal of holding fast to the Hem of the Most Ancient Beauty. It's a spiritual journey of unbelievable proportions. It's filled with incredible joy and deep sorrows, but I don't do this alone. I have plenty of help from my Baha'i friends and recovery group fellows. What I have discovered is that it is unrealistic to expect a relationship with a man (or my favorite drug of choice, food), to fill the emptiness inside of me. I have a God-sized hole in my soul that only God can fill. Everything else in my life flows from that.

    The more I travel this path, the less I think about having a relationship with a man. I would love to have that, but it's up to God as to when, where, and how. I surrender the process to Him. The Almighty is much more adept at guiding my life than I have been in the 51 years I have been on this earth.

    BTW, I was once one of those "fix-it" women. I've permanently retired from that job. I can only fix myself, and I can only do that with the help of God.

    Phillipe, thank you for continuing to bring this topic to your readers! And, I would like to ask you if you would (and I know you have a very limited amount of time) be a guest commentator on the topic of the Baha'i view of marriage for the Sacramento Baha'i Examiner on Examiner.com. let me know, OK? :)

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  2. Anonymous2:45 PM

    I haven't had a chance to get on my computer but I wanted to comment, re: how not to marry the wrong guy, that while these might be good reasons to consider not marrying someone, they are mostly not good reasons for divorcing someone--and I fear such books as much as they're pitched to people considering marriage are also read by or influence people already marred. There is no one right person for any of us. We do our best to make our marriage succeed because it's the right thing to do morally, spiritually, for ourselves and for our kids. The message that there's one "right" person (or "soul mate") out there for us is misleading to young people trying to understand what marriage is for, and it's used by too many folks in perhaps troubled but definitely salvagable marriages to justify seeking divorce (ie, "oops, I didn't marry the right guy for me; I need to leave him and try again")

    My two cents :)

    E

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  3. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Lovely comments so far!

    So my husband says "it isn't about finding the right person, it is about being the right person" This one is rather huge, because it isn't only that you aren't really looking for the "right" person, but that you really know yourself, and where/how you want to go in life, and actually be heading that way/living according to your choices. (Marriage, contrary to Disneyitis, isn't the destination).

    For me, it was important that I not "fall in love" because if I did, I was likely to trip over something I should have seen. I think I did rather well. I did like him after all, but it wasn't the headrush, or the symphony in the background. It was very real with no game playing. First year sucked big time, and each year has gotten exponentially better. That isn't to say that the socks on the floor etc doesn't bother me, but I can live with that. There are other things that I would not live with.

    I like that our arguments are PETTY. It sounds stupid, but I would rather argue about which car to take to Feast, and not if we are going or not. I also like that while we each bring a culture to our marriage, our family together has it's own culture.

    Fixing others/self/lonliness through marriage is a falacy. Both parties have to be able to accept eachother "AS IS" with no warrentee/guarantee etc. This is part of what is called "abiding by the Will of God." One person isn't going to make someone not lonely. Being not lonely has more to do with accepting yourself, and knowing everything is really just you and God, and having the skills and patterns of behaviour to have relationships that are safe, have quality, create joy and so on. America's #1 disease I have heared tell, is lonliness....there are many symptoms of this, and one of the causes is 'stuff comes before people'

    Okay, that is a whole 'nother sideline So I wont Go There. :)

    #1 Be the right person
    #2 Know yourself (esp. what you are prepared to live/work with)

    I haven't been divorced, so I can't go there as far as having had a good marriage and the spouce just walking out when you think everything is going fine etc. I think some of these issues may be more to do with mental and emotional health, than having married "the wrong" person.

    Take Care,
    Tici

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  4. This makes me think of Layli and Majnun in The Seven Valleys. I love how Baha'u'llah uses the analogy of romantic, human love and our love for our true Beloved. To me, the fact that He uses that story of the two lovers, shows the importance and significance of romantic love in our lives. We are created to be with a mate, in matehood. Quite honestly, anything else just feels abnormal.

    That being said, there is also great value in the journey to matehood - learning about oneself, clearing away the dross, healing, being, living life. On my journey, I am learning that I must walk the pathway of the Unknown in order to be at peace with the process. This has not been easy. Sometimes I feel I am running through the marketplace and my feet are starting to bleed. But, somehow, by the grace of God, I haven't given in and married the wrong guy for me. Prayer has been my saving grace, along with lots of growing and healing.

    May we all enter "matehood", a bond which benefits the world....

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  5. Anonymous9:21 AM

    If we accept the assumption that marriage/human relationships are a context in which to develop virtues, how do we then define an intimate relationship/person as wrong (i.e. wrong guy/gal)? How may this relate with the quote shared (re-quoted below), more specifically focusing on the possible meanings and repercussions of living a life that includes "drawing no lines"?
    JS

    For this reason must all human beings powerfully sustain one another and seek for everlasting life; and for this reason must the lovers of God in this contingent world become the mercies and the blessings sent forth by that clement King of the seen and unseen realms. Let them purify their sight and behold all humankind as leaves and blossoms and fruits of the tree of being. Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines."
    (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 1)

    ReplyDelete