The Five Batches of Marriages

A friend of mine from high school got married a few weeks ago.  This is the third friend of mine who got married in 2013 — I’m average one per month this year.  That means it’s official: we’ve entered batch three of marriages.

What’s a marriage batch, you say? Great question!  While people obviously get married at any (legal) age, there are points in your life when there are sudden batches of people getting married over the course of 1-3 years.  So when and what are the batches?  Let’s begin!

First Batch
Age: 18-19 Years Old
About This Batch: High School Sweethearts! Aw!  I had two friends get engaged during their senior year of high school or soon after graduation.  Sometimes people in this batch fall into the high school pregnancy group as well — especially in towns where people look down on birth control for religious reasons.  In more liberal regions, this batch is considerably smaller.
When This Couple Will Realize They’re Miserable: Usually around the age of 22-25 when they realize that they never got to live the single and drunken lifestyle that all their friends did when they moved to the big city after college.  Alternatively, they’ll realize they’re miserable immediately after their first child is born, but won’t get divorced until some time later.

Second Batch
Age: 22-24 Year Old
About This Batch: College Sweethearts! Aw!  These people spent their freshmen years of college trying to keep up things with their high school sweetheart, but things fell apart.  Then, early in sophomore year, they met the love of their life!  But they’re in college and not stupid — they’ll wait until they’re at least 1-2 years into the “real world” before sealing the deal and getting hitched.
When This Couple Will Realize They’re Miserable: When they hit 29 and realize they never had the moment in their 20s when they were single.  She’ll be upset that she never got to live the Sex and the City lifestyle and got to have cosmopolitans with her other single friends; He’ll be upset that he’s never likely to have sex with a 20-something besides the girl he married.

Third Batch
Age: 27-29 Years Old
About This Batch: These people read the newspaper columns that told them the average age of marriage in the United States is 26-28 years old.  Way to go! You’ve managed to be average!  This batch also includes people who set a specific age in their back of their minds at which they were determined to be married, i.e. college until 22, 4 years playing the field, meet the love of my life at 26, married at 27.  By age 26 they were willing to settle down with anyone with proper genitalia that was willing to accept them.   The good news? These people tend to actually have decent weddings as they’re entering a point in their lives where they can actually afford it.
When This Couple Will Realize They’re Miserable: Age 33-38.  People who aim to get married at the average American age will probably have an average length American marriage, which is 6-9 years — USA! USA! 

Fourth Batch
Age: 32-35 Years Old
About This Batch: These are weddings of people, specifically women, who want more than one kid.  Generally people aim to separate their kids’ ages by 2-4 years, so if you get married at 33, you pop out child A at 34 and child B at 37.  Having child C at 40 is difficult, but possible.  Few people continue having children into their 40’s.  So once age 32 comes around, women who want families start focusing on finding “the one” and men who are generally looking for women 1-4 years younger than them and also looking for families are happy to oblige.
When This Couple Will Realize They’re Miserable: Probably in their late 40s, maybe never.  People in their 30’s tend to have had enough experience in relationships that they know who they shouldn’t marry.  But, if they rushed to the alter to pump out children, it’ll probably be be when the kids are preteens that they realize the family fun time is now teenager angst time.

Fifth Batch
Age: 38-39 Years Old
About This Batch: Zomg.  I need to be married before 40.
When This Couple Will Realize They’re Miserable: Shut up.  At least I’m married.

People who don’t fall into these batches are the people who I think are more likely to have successful marriages.  As I get older and pass through these batches, I feel like I see couples who fit the above semi-satirical criteria and I always question whether or not they’re going to be happy.  Then I see people between these batches who get married for reasons that seem truly concrete and not a matter of timing or life stages.  My conclusion? Get married because you’re in love and have spent a long enough time with the person you love that you know you can’t bare to be without them.  But make sure you do that before you turn 40.

Lists, Prerequisites and the Burden of High Standards

I think we all have standards and a list of basic requirements for a potential Ms. or Mr. Right, or at least for Ms. or Mr. Right Now.  For example, most people probably would prefer to date someone who is at least “nice” or “not a complete asshole.”  Most of us probably also have hygiene rules: we want someone who brushes their teeth, showers at least once a day and wears some form of deodorant.  Basic qualities.  Beyond that, specific preferences of Ms/Mr. Right (Now) are certainly up to the individual, but there are likely still common traits we’re all looking for.

I’m admittedly not a Reddit user, though I do often get pointed in the direction of Reddit posts that manage to get a fair amount of traffic — don’t we all?  Yesterday, user unreal5 submitted an interesting picture, her friend’s list of qualities her future husband must have.  Let’s ignore the fact that this is a girl who is not yet married, but speaks of her husband in the present tense.  We’ll let that slide.  Here’s a transcribed copy of her list:

Qualities I love about my husband

  • Thinks I’m beautiful!!
  • Considerate
  • Sensitive
  • Intelligent
  • Humble
  • Great (“innocent”) sense of humor
  • multi-lingual/facility to pick up languages
  • kind
  • romantic
  • loving
  • Ever faithful
  • loves to travel
  • Generous
  • patient
  • calm/even tempered
  • compassionate
  • musically inclined
  • adventurous
  • ambitious
  • loves children (family oriented)
  • Enjoys all foods!!
  • educated
  • polite
  • cultured
  • healthy/physically fit
  • fun/fun loving
  • makes me laugh… from the gut
  • positive/happy
  • passionate
  • great amazing lover
  • likes animals (especially cats)

She also writes next to the list:

“The man who has me, deserves me”

My initial reaction is actually fairly positive.  Good for her to know what she’s looking for.  Of course, I would be very impressed if she actually found a man who exhibits all of these qualities and is attracted to her (keep in mind, he might have a list of his own) without one hell of a search.  Further, none of these qualities seem that unusual, though I’m a little unsure of what an “innocent” sense of humor is.

None of the items on her checklist are really that unusual qualities or extreme qualities — he doesn’t have to be captain of a sports team, a master French chef and play no less than four string instruments.  In fact, I can think of two or three guys who probably meet most of her requirements (I can’t guarantee they think she’s beautiful, that’s tough to know up front).  Also, I think some of these are qualities that I imagine most women probably look for (kind, romantic, loving, amazing lover, compassionate, fun loving) and a number of these I think are qualities that a majority of people, not just women are interested in: educated, intelligent, likes to travel, great sense of humor, thinks I’m beautiful, etc.

So let’s get to a broader question here: is it okay to have lists and requirements for our partners?  Personally, I don’t keep a very specific list of requirements.  Rather, I have a list of deal breakers: smoking, unintelligent, inability to handle social situations, etc.  and I have a list of qualities that I’m attracted to, though I don’t necessarily absolutely demand: ambitious, smart, liberal, cultured and compassionate.  Beyond that I like to consider myself open minded and again, the list of qualities I’m attracted is not a checklist, I’ve dated girls who didn’t exhibit all or most of them.

Isn’t the number one quality you should seek in someone just simple chemistry?  I for one have found that my best relationships, whether two months or five years, were built on a foundation of just this: they make me feel special, I think I make them feel special and I love spending time with them.  The ultimate goal of dating is generally to find someone to spend the rest of your life with.  While I would like my wife to have a beautiful singing voice, I don’t think her lack of one would make my life with her less enjoyable — why include it on a checklist?

We all have a list of qualities, regardless of whether it’s written down or not, that we’re seeking in potential mates.  But the fact is, it’s unlikely we’ll know what we truly want until we stumble upon it.  The Reddit girl’s future husband’s ability to speak multiple languages is unlikely going to be a major contributor to ensuring that he makes her happy for the rest of their lives.  While it may make him attractive to her, attraction like that tends to only lead you towards your partner and not necessarily keep you together.

So best of luck in finding your perfect man.  I truly hope he has all the qualities on your list.  But, while the attraction may certainly be there, the chemistry certainly isn’t guaranteed.

[via Reddit]