Saturday, December 17, 2011

Before you say, "I Do."

How do you know when he/she is the right one? Is it chemistry? Is it sexual or physical attraction? Is it a shared spiritual passion? These are all definitely important but not always enough—alone—to support a marriage “...till death do us part.” There is something far greater that ultimately determines the success of a marriage.

Based on a study conducted at Cornell University, there is evidence to suggest that both self-perception and mate assessment are relativistic. In other words, the way you see yourself is based on who you compare yourself to. And when it comes to picking a marriage partner (in Western society), preferences are based on self-perception.

For example, a woman who considers herself to be physically attractive will place a higher demand on her potential marriage partner’s financial and occupational status. Similarly, a man who considers himself to be wealthy will place a higher demand on the physical attractiveness of his prospective female mate. Again, these demands (according to the study) are based on a relative self-perception.

There was a time when people rarely wandered beyond the city limits of their small village/hometown. In those not-so-distant times, the mate selection process was relatively simple. Girls and boys attended the same schools, churches, and social activities. While growing up together, they were continually self accessing and searching for prospective marriage partners; a game of musical matrimony. Parents often encouraged/discouraged this natural selection process based on the socioeconomic status of the prospect's family. As Barbara Hart warned Keri in Flight to Paradise, “Now Sugah, when you get married, you must remember that you’re not just marrying a man, you’re marrying the family.”

As a growing number of young adults began to venture beyond the city limits and head off to state universities and colleges, the self-assessment and selection process became more complex. No longer was the pool of prospective husbands and wives limited to the size of the local high school graduating class (plus or minus a grade or two). But with the new and excting pool of available mates came the added risk of the mate selection process being made based solely on chemistry, sexual/physical attraction, and/or spiritual passion—something Barbara Hart would find totally unacceptable.

In our transient, media-rich, computerized, global society, self-perception and mate assessment/selection has become a train wreck. Men compare every female against the most beautiful creatures on Earth (real, not-so-real, and even the airbrushed/photo-shopped glossy images of perfection). Women are hoping for nothing less than a royal wedding and define financial success by a high six or even a seven-figure annual income plus all the trimmings.

Another land mine in the field of mate selection is a lack of actual physical interaction—the old fashion kind where two people conversed face-to-face. Today, the preferred method of communicating is by text, chat, or tweet. Technology has robbed our youth of the communicative skills needed to discover commonality: shared viewpoints, similar values, and complementary personalities and traits.

As Dr. Neil Clark Warren says in the article The Elusive Marital Ingredient, “Physical attraction combined with a fairy tale kind of hope won’t provide the kind of foundation that a marriage these days almost always requires.” What is needed is a broad-based compatibility—something that is becoming ever more complex and hard to find in our modern society.

When the beauty fades and the financial resources are consumed, the one thing that is left is a foundation of compatibility. The broader and deeper that foundation is, the greater is the potential for long-term marital happiness. As Clark said, “When you get it right on the front end, the result may well be the deepest and most joyful of all human experiences.”

Read Flight to Paradise and see how Ryan Mitchell and Keri Hart learned—the hard way—about the value of broad-based compatibility as it compares to “physical attraction and a fairy tale kind of hope.”


  1. I will give 50% marks to physical attraction. It is the qualities of one individual to forgive in any marriage which counts the most.One can never find a perfect match in any Human who are frail.But it is the way of accommodating others faults and go on is the trick. I think a flyer knows it better!

  2. So true and nicely put. Thank you.

    One of the themes of "Flight to Paradise" is this: The desires of the heart are realized when the heart is allowed to do what is was designed to do: Give love, not take it.

    It's all about putting the needs of others before ourselves. This goes for ALL relationships.