My wife sometimes shares a story with me about an encounter she has had with a person whom she perceives as difficult—arrogant, insolent, and/or egotistical. She might end the story with the phrase, “At least, I am not married to that person.” I want to analyze this phrase. ‘At least’, the first part of the phrase, suggests that the difficult person is not soon going away, e.g. a family member, coworker, or neighbor. In addition, ‘At least’ implies that my wife is happy she did not choose the person as her spouse. I acknowledge that I, my wife’s spouse, am, at times, quite difficult (Ellis & Harper, 1997). For example, I can be impatient or impudent the day following a poor night’s sleep. The difference between the other person’s and my difficult-ness may be that my wife emotionally committed to me including my imperfections.
The second part, “I am not married to that person” suggests that while the person may not be going away, my wife has no formal, emotional, or legal bond with him or her. In other words, at the end of the day, that person will go to his or her house, and my wife to hers. This brings me to the point of this blog: you choose a ‘till-death-do-you-part’ partner–a person with whom, in spite of his or her issues, you commit to living. Here are a couple tactics that might help you choose that kind of partner:
- Toss any rose-colored spectacles as you grow closer to a potential partner, so you can see the real person, issues and all, rather than a romantic image of perfection (King, 2017).
- Sensitize your red flags, those internal sensors of potential issues. For example, if your friends and/or family members don’t like a new person in your life, listen rather than discount their opinions. Regardless, of what triggers your red flags, communicate early and often, with people in your life about their and your concerns, thoughts, and/or feelings.
- Take note during conversations with your romantic interest.
- Does that person physically and emotionally engage in conversations?
- Is s/he willing to contribute to resolving problems?
- Does your potential partner compromise or do something differently, when requested? (Futris & Richardson, 2013; Spires, 2010; Wiley, 2007).
If so, this person may be a good partner for you. If not, you might want to look for a person with more-developed problem-solving abilities.
The best partner you are going to find will have issues. The best thing you can do is commit to a partner who is willing to work together to resolve issues as they arise.