What is the best way to choose your future mate?
Humans they say are attracted to each other because of some sort of “chemistry,” call it pheromones, a sense of smell, instinct, infatuation, love or just plain physical attraction, but what it boils down to is that two people can be drawn together even though they hardly know each other. That’s because Nature doesn’t really care whether they get along or not, as long as the two procreate.
But today this is not enough. We live in a highly individualistic society and couples are thrown in each other’s company far more than they were earlier. So we need to get along or poof! End of marriage compatibility! But if our instincts don’t tell us who the right partner is, then what can? We don’t want to leave it to chance. So we try to ensure that the partner is suitable. That is why we try and choose someone with the same interests as us, someone from a similar background, someone with the same values, someone with whom have a lot on common. Does it work?
One theory says that marrying a partner with a similar temperament works to some extent. This theory, based on research, says that couples with similar temperaments tend to get along better, and that similar attitudes and beliefs were not an important factor. The characteristics that were taken into account in the research were Extroversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Openness, Positive emotions, Negative emotions, Avoidance, Anxiety, Fearful–secure, Negativity of self-model, Negativity of other-model, Dismissing–preoccupied, Ego-resiliency and Disinhibition. Let me quote a little here:
People may be attracted to those who have similar attitudes, values, and beliefs and even marry them – at least in part – on the basis of this similarity because attitudes are highly visible and salient characteristics and they are fundamental to the way people lead their lives,” explain the authors. Personality-related characteristics, on the other hand, take much longer to be known. However, once people are in a committed relationship, it is primarily personality similarity that influences marital happiness because being in a committed relationship entails regular interaction and requires extensive coordination in dealing with tasks, issues and problems of daily living. Whereas personality similarity is likely to facilitate this process, personality differences may result in more friction and conflict in daily life.
True, the research sample is small (291 couples) and limited in the sense that it was marital happiness within the year that was considered. However I believe that the first year of marriage is an important indicator of future happiness although there may be exceptions. I think that the exceptions generally arise when some external factors (like interference of in-laws) is playing a role in the couple’s unhappiness, not their personalities.
I wanted to test this theory so I checked to see if it applied to my own marriage, which I consider a very successful one. I always felt that my husband and me were different but when I checked against the factors mentioned in the research I was surprised to see that we were pretty close in 13 of the 16 factors! And in the three factors in which we were not similar, we were certainly not opposites! I had always thought we were different because he loves exercise and I don’t, he is a gourmet where food is concerned and I am not, he is mechanical minded while I am more artistic…but if measured against the personality indicators in the research I realised that were were not that different all….quite a strange thing to discover after so many years of marriage!
Related Reading: Math tips on when to stop looking for a better partner!
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