Why We Marry the Wrong Person


While we all can agree that no marriage comes without a few obstacles some really are just complete disasters. The relationship is so toxic and the couple so incompatible that one is left wondering what these two were ever thinking?

But this devastating mistake is certainly not uncommon and in fact, far easier to make than anyone of us want to admit. If we want to reverse this trend to save ourselves the damage divorce causes the state, our employers and our children we need to take a serious look at what’s going on. We need to address the problem at a national and personal level.

The Philosopher’s Mail recently released an article explaining why so many of us make terrible choices when it comes to love. In it, the author outlines 9 very real causes for wrecked marriages.

Why We Marry the Wrong Person

#1 We Lack Self-Knowledge

Before going out to find our mate for life we have to understand ourselves, what we want and what we need.

But the truth is, very few of us do. We have this vague notion of the person we hope to meet. He or she should be “kind”, “attractive”, and “funny”. But we need more than just these ambiguous qualities in a partner. We require someone with whom we can coexist on a daily basis.

Each one of us is emotionally unbalanced and neurotic on some level. To succeed in creating a happy union, we need to understand our own personal neurosis and find someone who doesn’t bring out the worst in us. A good marriage isn’t between two well-adjusted people, since those are very few and far between. It exists between two flawed individuals who know how to accommodate each other.

But this knowledge takes years to come by. No one ever encourages us to take time to do this self-evaluation. We’re never confronted with these uncomfortable truths about ourselves until we start developing romantic relationships. When they fail we tend to blame the other person, rather than look at our own flaws. Alone, we have no understanding of what it is like for someone else to live with us.

Given how little most of us understand ourselves, it’s really no wonder many of us choose such inappropriate partners. We simply have no idea of what to look for.

#2 We Lack Knowledge of Others

We’re all in this same boat. While we don’t understand ourselves, our potential mates also lack self-knowledge. We can’t tell them our problems and needs and they can’t do the same.

For a marriage to work, you need a thorough understanding of your partner’s entire belief system and values. You should know what he or she thinks about money, raising kids, authority, fidelity, sexual intimacy and more.

But the problem lies in that we don’t take the time to discover these things. These issues are not the topic of date discussions. What we don’t know about our partners, we imagine for ourselves based on what we believe to be true. Once we move in together and face the difficulties of marriage, kids and grown up life, we finally meet the real person we married.


#3 We’re Not Programmed for Happiness

Most of us imagine that we seek love to bring happiness into our lives. Not so. Very often we search to find familiarity.

Whether we mean to or not, we actively recreate the scenarios we learned as children. Not all of us grew up in happy homes. The relationships we were exposed to sometimes had little to do with love, and more to do with intimidation, abandonment, control and lack of communication among others. We learned to associate love with unhappiness.

When we meet potential partners who are well adjusted, we reject them. They unsettle us because we are used to something else. We seek out what is familiar rather than what is healthy.

#4 We Hate Being Single

In our culture, singlehood is generally not accepted after we reach 30. Those of us who find ourselves alone at that age or older tend to be lonely and miserable because most of our peers have already paired up. We seek companions to escape this dire state of affairs.

But if you enter a relationship just for the sake to avoid being alone, you are bound to choose a wrong mate. You need to be at peace with singlehood before you have any hopes of embarking on a healthy relationship.

Ideally companionship would be more readily available for all singles so those of us without partners no longer have to wrestle with feelings of loneliness.

#5 We Idealize the Notion of Romantic Marriage

A long time ago, marriage was a business agreement between two families. Termed “marriages of reason”, no one cared if the couple was happy or if they loved each other.

Flash forward a few thousand years.

So traumatized by the old ways, we have turned 180 degrees the opposite direction. Now all that matters is that the couple in question is in love, whether they are right for each other is another story. Romantic marriage reigns supreme. Feelings triumph rationality.

The sad truth is we don’t always fall in love with the right person. To base the serious decision to marry solely on an emotion is unwise to say the least.

#6 We Lack Education on Love and Marriage

Presently we walk into marriage completely blind. We don’t educate ourselves beforehand on what it is to be married, the problems one might face or why marriages often fail.

We now know that marriages of reason no longer work and are just beginning to understand that romantic marriages also often fail. What we need now is a third kind of union. One not based on business or feelings alone. It would be a marriage where the initial feelings of love were fully examined and the couple would have a thorough knowledge of each other.

Called “the marriage of psychology”, its criteria would be different than the other two. Before ever considering marriage one would be able to answer the questions about his or her mate:

– “How are they mad?”

– “How can one raise children with them?”

– “How can one develop together?”

– “How can one remain friends?”

#7 We Try to Capture Happiness

Remember that euphoria of falling in love? We all want it to last forever. So we marry in a feeble attempt to sustain that emotion.

But it doesn’t work.

Marriage won’t capture the beauty of that early stage or bring it back. The institution will push the relationship into another more challenging phase- one that includes work, kids, commuting, and a mortgage.

We all need to accept the transience of happiness. It comes in waves and peaks but is never permanent. To try to make it last forever is futile.

#8 We Think Our Love is Special

When we fall in love, we feel as if no one else has experienced emotion like we have. That our love is somehow unique. That it defies the odds and is not subject to the common statistics that tell us almost half of marriages end in divorce.

But in reality many of us feel this way and the marriage still fails. It would benefit us all to see ourselves susceptible to the odds.

#9 We’re Fed Up With the Dating Game

By the time we have decided to settle down we have become exhausted playing the game of love. We’ve had it with all the rejection, parties, hook-ups, break-ups and heartache. We yearn for a place of peace and imagine that marriage will bring us there.

Only after marrying do we discover that the institution also comes with its share of heartache, doubt, rejection, fear and betrayal. The tranquility we crave is only the appearance most marriages give on the outside.

So now that we know that romantic marriage and marriages of reason are both flawed, we need to try a whole new approach. Psychological marriages, ones that both partners enter into the institution with complete knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses will be the next step to creating unions that have the potential to last a lifetime.


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