Why you will marry the wrong person

Thoughts from Alain de Botton about the nature of love.

Readership: All
Theme: Risk Assessment
Length: 1,500 words
Reading Time: 5 minutes + 22:19 minute video (Alternately, the transcript requires 20 minutes of reading time.)

Introduction

This is the first post under the theme for March: Risk Assessment. Here, we cover a speech given by Alain de Botton that succinctly summarizes the basic ontology of love, as well as the challenges and hurdles of long term relationships from a mystical perspective. It is quite pertinent to the Red Pill wisdom we canvas here on Σ Frame.

This video was recommended to me through email by not just one, but two readers!

One reader wrote,

“I’m quite impressed with a particular philosopher who gets a lot of human psychology right: Alain de Botton. I’m sure anyone could find things we’d not agree with (as usual), but this one video captures and articulates so much of what my heart-led wisdom has taught me that it’s hard not to share it.”

I too don’t fully agree with all the nuances of de Botton’s perspectives, but on the whole, his insights reflect many epiphanies I’ve discovered in the past.

Underneath the video, Jack’s Notes extracts the major points of de Botton’s talk.

If you’d rather read the transcription than watch the video, then you’ll find a (slightly) abridged transcript after Jack’s Notes.

Some links to related posts as well as some additional resources have been added to Jack’s Notes and the transcript of de Botton’s speech below.

Alain de Botton: Why you will marry the wrong person (2017-08-13) Length: 22:19

Jack’s Notes

Alain de Botton outlines many of the reasons why love is difficult to attain. In doing so, De Botton gives us a succinct summary of the many oddities of human nature and how this sets the stage for love and creates opportunities for showing love to one another – opportunities which we are wont to miss if we are not sufficiently self-aware. Here, I’ve collected all the major insights from his speech that answer the titular question and summarized them into the following areas.

Blindness

We are all psychologically unique, “strange” as de Botton says, and thus difficult to understand, much less live with.

Communicating through words is cumbersome and awkward. Often times we don’t know what we are feeling, much less able to put it into words.

There is a wall of silence and propriety that separates us from a deeper acquaintance with others.

There is a wall of ignorance that blinds us from seeing ourselves clearly. We are uncomfortable, or perhaps even deeply afraid of self-knowledge.

We are addicted to distractions, entertainment, pleasures and the like, anything which might serve to displace any moment of authentic introspection. This further confounds the challenge of knowing our selves.

Fears

Love requires our humility, but we all struggle against a strong impulse to hide our needs and protect our vulnerabilities. People have many different defense mechanisms to prevent themselves from being humble in an effort to protect their vulnerabilities against the inherent risks and defilements of being humble.

We are deeply frightened by the prospect that the other person will not understand, or misinterpret what we say, or become offended. This fear leads us to attack and humiliate the other, which ruins the efficacy of our communication.

Because we are uncomfortable, or perhaps even deeply afraid of self-knowledge, we are prone to misinterpret good-willed honesty from others as criticism. We fail to recognize this as having a role in love. We fail to use such opportunities to advance our knowledge of ourselves and others, and instead we take offense.

When we cannot avoid facing our own imperfections, inadequacies, and shortcomings, such as when we are raising a child, then we are prone to feel hopeless, worthless, and like a failure.

Intrinsic Human Nature, Self-Centeredness, and Solipsism

We have a lopsided approach towards love that caters to our own self-centered interests. We want and expect to be loved, but we neglect the skills and habits necessary to show love to others, resulting in a stalemate.

We often call out for love through attention seeking behavior, and this is often detrimental to actually securing the love we desire.

We expect that those we love should be able to accept us, farts, warts, quirks, and all, so we do not think it should be necessary to protect others from the uglier aspects of our character. But this is not loving to others.

We have unrealistic expectations for love. We expect perfection and immediate compatibility, but striving for perfection always and only leads to disappointment, frustration, and loneliness.

Worse, we have the subconscious desire for a soul mate. We carry the belief that the more a lover is right for us, the less we’re going to have to explain about who we are, how we feel, what upsets us, what we want, and so on. We believe, rather as a young child believes of its parent, that a true lover will guess what is in our minds without us having to say it. We have this deep desire that we’ll simply be understood wordlessly. When we are not, then we feel let down, we feel resentful, and we sulk.

Ignorance of What Love is All About

The essential habit of loving others is to have the willingness to interpret unappealing behaviors from others in order to find more benevolent reasons why such behaviors may be unfolding. In other words, to love someone is to interpret their words and behaviors with good will, charity, generosity, and understanding. So love is not just admiration for strength, it is also tolerance of weakness and a recognition of their ambivalences. But we avoid this habit because it is difficult and risky.

Instead, we avoid difficult individuals and choose certain others to be the objects of our love. We idealize them, thinking them to be perfect, and we then become disappointed, hurt, and indignant when they fail us in some respect. True psychological maturity is the capacity to realize that anyone you love is going to be a mixture of both good and bad traits and accepting this as a part of human life.

We have the idea that compromise (e.g. “settling”) is a failure, not an achievement. We think “staying together for the sake of the children” is an excuse for apathy and inaction. We need to look more benevolently towards the noble art of compromise. It’s a massive achievement in love.

We must recognize that the work of love is to graciously accommodate each other, and ourselves, amid the incompatibilities we have with each other. Therefore, compatibility is an achievement of love.

We must teach others who we are. Teaching is the skill of getting an idea from one head into another in a way that is likely to be accepted. Both partners need to accept that they are going to need to teach each other who they are and what they want, and therefore also learn from each other.

Cultural Myths

Progressive Western societies embrace humanism as a whole. Self-centered individualism and solipsism are amplified and glorified.

We live in a romantic culture in which love is characterized by impulse and self-centered emotions. Impulsiveness is glorified and chance encounters are emphasized as divine and serendipitous. But without a solid familiarity with our self and without well-honed skills in love, these chance encounters inevitably lead to disappointment and heartbreak.

We’ve been told that the way to find a good partner is to follow our instincts. “Follow your heart!” is the mantra. But we fail to recognize this as a recipe for disaster.

Our culture refuses to consider that love is a two-way street, requiring skill, openness (vulnerability), honesty, and humility.

All of the above factors obscure and reinforce the stalemate in love resulting from Blindness, Fears, Solipsism, and Ignorance, as discussed before.

Formative Influences (Childhood)

In early childhood, the way that we learned about love was not just by experiences of tenderness, kindness, and generosity. The love that we would have tasted as children were also bound up with experiences of being ignored, let down, being humiliated, maybe being with a parent who treated us very harshly, who scolded us, who made us feel small in some way. In other words, quite a lot of our earliest experiences with love are bound up with various kinds of suffering.

We think we are out to find partners who will make us happy (or so we are led to believe by popular culture), but we’re not. We’re out to find partners who will feel familiar. That may be a very different thing, because that familiarity may be bound up with the particular kinds of torture which we grew accustomed to in childhood.

Thus, we are on a quest to suffer in ways that feel familiar. This radically undermines our ability to find a good partner. We reject suitable potential partners simply because they are not able to make us suffer in the way that we need to suffer in order to feel that love is real.

We all have a particular “type” of person whom we find attractive, which may be a result of formative experiences in childhood and adolescence. These “types” tend to instill those peculiar sorts of sufferings which we are most familiar with, although we remain ignorant of this and idolize the person instead. One’s own particular “type” invariably proves to be challenging for one to deal with and manage. We have the idea that we should try to change the “type” we are attracted to, or change a particular individual we are attracted to into being someone fundamentally different. But instead of doing this, it may be wiser to learn how to deal with our type in a more mature way.

Conclusions

No matter what choices you make, there will be a cost of opportunity. There will be regrets either way. We should accept the fact that we’re going to marry a person who is incompatible in some ways and do the work of love to achieve the compatibility we innately desire.

We should accept the fact that we’re going to make the wrong decisions in a whole row of areas. The reason we do this is because we are human. Therefore, we should not berate ourselves for doing what humans do.


Abridged Transcription

Introduction

[Alain de Botton] wrote an essay for the New York Times, entitled, Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person (2016-05-28).

How many of you in the room do feel, on balance, that you have married the wrong person? [Laughter] […] There’s a pretty hefty majority!

I’m here to give counsel and consolation for this situation.

There’s a lot of anger around our love lives, privately held. A lot of us go around feeling quite enraged, privately angry about the way that our love lives have gone.

My task today is to turn that anger into sadness. [Laughter] If we manage to turn rage into grief, we will have made psychological progress. […]

What lies behind rage very often is an unusual quality. We tend to think that angry people are dark and pessimistic people. Absolutely not! Scratch through the surface of any regularly angry person and you will find a wild optimist. It is in fact, hope that drives rage.

Think of the person who screams every time they can’t find their house keys, or every time they get stuck in traffic. These unfortunate characters are evincing a curious but reckless faith in a world in which keys never go astray, the roads are mysteriously traffic free. It is hope that is turbocharging their rage.

If we are to be a little less sad and a little less angry about our love lives, then we will have to diminish some of our hopes. It is very hard to diminish hope around love, because there are vast industries designed to inflate our expectations of love.

German philosopher, Theodor Adorno, said the most dangerous man in the entire world is Walt Disney. The reason for his attack on Walt was because he believed that Walt was the prime agent of hope, and therefore of rage, and therefore of bitterness. And he thought that it was the task of philosophy to let us down gently. […]

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse

We are all Strange

Remember the theme of the talk, why you will marry the wrong person.

There are a number of reasons why this is going to happen to you, or has, maybe already in the privacy of your heart, happened to you.

I should say, that it’s not that bad. The reason is that all of us will not manage to find the “right” person, but we will, probably all of us, manage to find a “good enough” person. That’s success. […]

One of the reasons why we are not going to be able to pull this one off successfully as we might have hoped at the early outset of our teenage years when we were contemplating love, is that we are very strange. I’m very strange and you’re very strange. You don’t let on, and you know, we’re not going to do anything very dangerous, but we are basically psychologically quite strange. We don’t normally know very much about this strangeness. It takes us a long long time before we are really on top of the way in which we are hard to live with. […] If you think you are easy to live with, then you are somewhat deceived. The reason is because you are homo sapiens, and you are not easy to live with. No one is.

The Wall of Silence

There is a wall of silence that surrounds us from a deeper acquaintance with what is actually so difficult about us. Our friends don’t want to tell us. Why would they bother? They just want a pleasant evening out. Our friends know more about us, and more about our flaws, probably after a 10-minute acquaintance, than we do, but they don’t want to go to the trouble to deal with it. Even a stranger who talks with you for five minutes might know more about your flaws than what you could know about yourself in 40 years. Our capacity to understand what is wrong with us, our own weakness, is very weak. Our parents, friends, ex-lovers, know us very intimately, but they love us too much to take us to task. That knowledge is out there, but they’re not going to bother. […] The knowledge is out there, but it’s not in you. Therefore, we progress through the world with a very low sense of what is actually wrong with us.

We are Addicted to Avoiding Humility and Self Knowledge

We are all addicts… not to inject heroine and such. We need to redefine what an addiction is. We tend to think of addiction in terms of what we are addicted to. But an addiction is basically any pattern of behavior whereby you cannot stand to be with yourself and the uncomfortable thoughts and, more importantly, the emotions that come from being on your own. And so therefore, you can be addicted to almost nearly anything so long as it keeps you away from yourself, so long as it keeps you away from tricky self-knowledge.

Most of us are addicts!

Thanks to all sorts of technologies and distractions, etc., we can have a good life where we will almost certainly guarantee that we won’t spend any time with ourselves. […] You can be guaranteed that you don’t have to talk to yourself. This is a disaster for your ability to have a relationship with someone else, because until you know yourself, you cannot properly relate to another person.

One of the reasons why love is so tricky for us is because it requires us to do something we really don’t want to do, which is to approach another human being and say, “I need you. I wouldn’t really survive without you. I’m vulnerable before you.” There’s a very strong impulse in all of us to be strong, and to be well defended, and not to reveal our vulnerability to another person.

Attraction and Attachment

Psychologists talk of two patterns of response that tend to crop up in people whenever there’s a danger of needing to be extremely vulnerable, dangerously vulnerable, and exposed to another person. The first response is what psychologists call “anxiously attached” [or “Preoccupied” in the graph below], according to attachment theory. When you are anxiously attached to somebody, rather than saying, “I need you, I depend on you”, you start to get very procedural. We say, “You’re ten minutes late,” or “The bean bags need to be taken out,” etc. You start to get strict, when actually what you want to do is to ask a very poignant question, “Do you still care about me?” We don’t dare to ask that question, so instead, we get nasty. We get stiff. We get procedural.

The other pattern of behavior which psychologists have identified, and it tends to apply to people who are […] A types, very outgoing types, strivers… These people tend to become avoidant [or “Dismissing” in the graph below]. When you need someone, it’s precisely at that moment that you pretend you don’t. When you feel most vulnerable, you say, “I’m quite busy at the moment…”“I’m fine, thanks…” […] You don’t reveal the need for another person, which sets them off into a chain of wondering whether you are to be trusted, and there is then a cycle of low trust.

So we get into these patterns of not daring to do the thing that we really need to do, which is to say, “Even though I am a grown person, […] I’m actually a small child inside, and I need you like a small child would need its parent.” This is so humbling, that most people would refuse to make that step and therefore refuse the challenge of love.

What is Love?

In short, we don’t know very much how to love. It sounds very odd, but look, all of us in this room would probably need to go to a school of love. You may think, “What? A school of love?!? Love is just an instinct.” No it’s not! Love is a skill. It’s a skill that needs to be learned. It’s a skill that our society refuses to consider as a skill. We are meant to just always follow our feelings. But if you keep following your feelings, then you will almost certainly make a big mistake in your life.

What is love? There is a distinction between loving and being loved. We all start off in life by knowing a lot about being loved. Being loved is the fun bit. That’s when someone brings you food on a tray, or asks you how your day at school went, etc. We grow up thinking that that is what’s going to happen in an adult relationship. We can be forgiven for that. It’s a very understandable mistake, but it’s a very tragic mistake, and it leads us not to pay attention to the other side of the equation which is to love.

What does it really mean to love? To love ultimately is to have the willingness to interpret someone’s, on the surface, not very appealing behavior, in order to find more benevolent reasons why it may be unfolding. In other words, to love someone is to apply charity and generosity of interpretation.

Most of us are in dire need of love. Actually, we need to have some slack cut for us, because our behavior is often so tricky that if we don’t do this, then we wouldn’t get through any kind of relationship. But we are not used to thinking that that is the core of what love is. The core of what love is, is the willingness to interpret another’s behavior.

The Complexing Nature of Love

What we tend to be very bad at is recognizing that anyone that we can love is going to be a complexing mixture of the good and the bad. There’s a wonderful psychoanalyst named Melanie Klein who was active in the 1950s and 60s… […] She studied children who learned about relationships from the parental situation. She came up with a very fascinating analysis. She argued that when children are very small, they don’t really realize that a parent is one character. They actually “split” the parent into a good parent and a bad parent. This is when a baby is in the infant stage. […] It takes a long time, Melanie Kline thought it might be until the age of four, until you actually realize that the good mother and the bad mother are one person, and you become ambivalent. In other words, you become able to hate someone… and at the same time, also love them. You’re able to not run away from that situation. You are able say, “I love this person, and I hate them, and that’s OK.” Melanie Kline thought that this an immense psychological achievement when we can no longer merely divide people into “absolutely brilliant, perfect, marvelous,” and “hateful, let me down, disappointed me.”

Everyone whom we love is going to disappoint us. We start off with idealization, and we end up often with denigration. The person goes from being absolutely marvelous to absolutely terrible.

Maturity is the ability to see that there are no heroes or sinners, really, among human beings. All of us are a wonderfully complexing mixture of the good and the bad.

Adulthood, true psychological maturity, and you may need to be 65 before it hits you — I’m not there yet — is the capacity to realize that anyone you love is going to be this mixture of the good and the bad. So love is not just admiration for strength, it is also tolerance of weakness and a recognition of ambivalence.

We are Drawn to the Familiar Tortures of Reliving Childhood Trauma, thinking it is Love

The reason why we’re going to probably make some real mistakes when we choose our love partner […] stunning mistakes […] is that we’ve been told that the way to find a good partner is to follow your instincts. Right? “Follow your heart!” That’s the mantra. And so all the time we are reminded that if we stop reasoning, analyzing… […] we think that we think too much about our emotions, We cannot think too much. We can only ever think badly. But there’s no such thing as thinking too much about emotions, but the problem is we live in a romantic culture that privileges impulse.

Now, when it comes to love, something tricky occurs, because you don’t have to be a paid up believer in psychotherapy or psychoanalysis to realize that the way we love as adults sits on top of our early childhood experiences. In early childhood, the way that we learned about love was not just by experiences of tenderness, kindness, and generosity. The love that we would have tasted as children were also bound up with experiences of being let down, being humiliated, maybe being with a parent who treated us very harshly, who scolded us, who made us feel small in some way. In other words, quite a lot of our earliest experiences with love are bound up with various kinds of suffering.

Now something quite bad happens to us when we start to go out into the adult world and start to choose love partners. We think we are out to find partners who will make us happy, but we’re not. We’re out to find partners who will feel familiar. That may be a very different thing, because familiarity may be bound up with particular kinds of torture.

This explains why sometimes people will say to us (when we meet a potential partner), “Look, there’s a wonderful person! You should go and date this person. They’re, good looking, they’re charming…” and all sorts of things. We go out with them and we date them. We do recognize that they are really wonderful and amazing, but we have to confess to our friends that actually we found this person… and often we struggle with the vocabulary… we say, maybe, “not that exciting,” or maybe “not sexy,” or “a bit boring.” But really what we mean, is that we’ve detected in this really quite accomplished person, someone who will not be able to make us suffer in the way that we need to suffer in order to feel that love is real, and that’s why we reject them. So we are not merely on a quest to be happy. We are on a quest to suffer in ways that feel familiar. This radically undermines our ability to find a good partner.

We Desire a Soul Connection

Here’s another reason why we’re going to become unstuck in the field of love. We tend to believe that the more a lover is right for us, the less we’re going to have to explain about who we are, how we feel, what upsets us, what we want… We believe, rather as a young child believes of its parent, that a true lover will guess what is in our minds. One of the great errors that human beings make is permanently to feel that other people know what’s in their minds, without us having said what’s in our minds. It’s very cumbersome to use words. It’s such a bore. When it comes to love, we have this deep desire that we’ll simply be understood wordlessly. It’s touching, a beautiful, romantic idea, but it also leads to a catastrophic outbreak of sulking.

What is sulking? Sulking is an interesting phenomenon. We don’t just sulk with anyone. We sulk with people who should understand us, but for some reason, have decided not to. That’s why we tend to reserve our sulks for people whom we love and whom we think love us. When they tell us something, they unwittingly would trigger a negative reaction in us.

We’ll sulk, and they’ll say, “What’s wrong with you darling?”

We’ll say nothing. They’ll say, “Come on! You’re upset!”

“No I’m not. I’m absolutely fine.”

And it’s not true! We’ll go upstairs and we’ll shut the door, and we won’t tell them what’s wrong with us. They’ll knock at the door and tell us, “Please, just tell me”, and we’ll say “NO” because we want them to read our souls, because we expect that a true lover can understand what we feel and who we are, without us speaking. This is a catastrophe for our capacity to form lasting relationships. If you do not explain, you can never be understood.

You Must Teach Others Who You Are

The root to a good marriage, and to good love, is the ability to become a good teacher. Now, teaching sounds like a narrow profession — those guys in tweed jackets, dusting with the chalkboard, etc. I’m not talking about that kind of teaching.

All of us, whatever our job aspirations, whatever it is we do, have to become teachers. Teaching is merely the word that we give to the skill of getting an idea from one head into another in a way that is likely to be accepted.

Most of us are appalling teachers! Most of us teach when we’re tired, when we’re frightened. What are we frightened of? We’re frightened that we’ve married an idiot, and because we are so frightened, we start screaming at them! “You’ve got to understand!” The thing is, that unfortunately by the time you’ve started to humiliate the person you want to understand something — lesson over!

You will never get anyone to understand what you want them to understand as long as you make them feel small. In order to teach well, you need to be relaxed. You need to accept that maybe your partner won’t understand. Also, you need a culture within a couple, that two people are going to need to teach each other and therefore also learn from each other.

Intimate Honesty is Misinterpreted as Criticism

This brings me to the next reason why you’re going to have a very unhappy relationship. That is because you probably believe that when someone tries to tell you something about yourself that is a little ticklish and a little bit uncomfortable that they are attacking you. They are not. They’re trying to make you into a better person. We don’t tend to believe that this has a role in love.

We tend to believe that true love means accepting the whole of us. It doesn’t! No one should accept the whole of us. We’re appalling! Do you really want the whole of you accepted? No, that’s not love! The full display of our characters, the full articulation of who we are, should not be something that we do in front of anyone that we care about!

So what we need to do is to accept that the other person is going to want to educate us, and that it isn’t criticism. Criticism is merely the wrong word that we apply to a much nobler idea, which is to try to make us into better versions of ourselves. But we tend to reject this idea very strongly.

Our Imperfections Offer Opportunities to Love

Is there any hope? Of course there’s hope.

Look, I mentioned the word “good enough.” It’s a phrase taken from a wonderful English psychoanalyst called Donald Winnicott. He had a lot of parents who would come to him, and say things like, “I’m so worried that I’m not a good parent. My child has this problem…” […] He came up with a wonderful phrase. He said, “You are most likely to be a “good enough” parent.” It is a relief from our punishing perfectionism.

The good news is that most of us are not perfect, and therefore, we don’t need perfection. The demand for perfection will lead you to only one thing – loneliness. You cannot have perfection and company! To be in company with another person is to be negotiating imperfection every day.

Incompatibility. We are all incompatible, but it is the work of love to make us graciously accommodate each other, and ourselves to each other’s incompatibilities. Therefore, compatibility is an achievement of love. It isn’t what you need from the outset. Of course you aren’t going to be totally compatible. That’s not the point. It is through love that you gradually accept the need to be compatible.

Relational Archetypes

We probably can’t change our “types”. Right? So many of us have got “types” who are going to cause us real problems. They may be too distant. They may be arrogant. They’re going to torture us in some way.

Now, friends casually say to us, “Chuck them! Get out of the relationship!” Right?

No, we’re realists… and I’m giving you realistic advice. You are not going to manage to change your type. Let’s get that for granted. What you can do, and this is a big achievement, is to change how you characteristically respond to your tricky type.

Most of us have formed the way that we respond to tricky types in early childhood. So, we had a distant parent who matches with the distant lover. When we were very young, we responded to that distant parent by attention seeking. We rattled and banged, and now we’re adults, we rattle and bang in our own way.  We think that’s going to help. It doesn’t. It creates a vicious cycle that is not going to get us anywhere. It is open to us at any time to have a more mature response to the challenges that the types of people we are attracted to are going to pose for us. That is an immense step forward, an immense achievement.

The Art of Compromise

The other thing we should do is recognize an innate ability of compromise. One of the most shameful things to have ever have to admit is to say, “This is my partner. I’ve compromised. In choosing them, I’ve compromised.”

“Oh, why have you compromised?”

“Well, I’m not that attractive myself. I’ve got lost of problems. I’m a bit nutty. Frankly, I couldn’t pull anyone better… But they’re very nice! They’re OK.” [Laughter]

You would think, “Loser!”

It’s not true! Compromise is noble! We compromise in every area of life. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t compromise in our love life. Maybe we’re only sticking around for the children. Good! That’s a wonderful reason to stick around! Why else would you stick around?

Let’s look a little bit more benevolently towards the art of compromise. It’s a massive achievement in love.

Closing Statements

I’m going to end with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Danish, 19th century, very gloomy philosopher called Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, in his book, Either/Or, had a wonderful outburst where he basically said, of course, you’re going to marry the wrong person and make the wrong decisions in a whole row of areas, and the reason you’re going to do this is that you’re human. Therefore, do not berate yourself for doing what humans do.

This is what he says.

“Marry and you will regret it.
Don’t marry, you will also regret it.
Marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way.

Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you’ll regret it.
Weep over it, you’ll regret that too.
Laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both.

Hang yourself, you will regret it. [Laughter]
Don’t hang yourself, you will regret that too.
Hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you will regret it either way.

Whether you hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you will regret both.”

This gentleman is the essence of all philosophy.

[End of Alain de Botton’s speech.]

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Agency, Attitude, Attraction, Authenticity, Boundaries, Calculated Risk Taking, Child Development, Choosing a Partner or Spouse, Communications, Conflict Management, Courtship and Marriage, Desire, Discerning Lies and Deception, Discernment, Wisdom, Enduring Suffering, Fantasy and Illusion, Fundamental Frame, Generational Curses, Glory, Handling Rejection, Holding Frame, Introspection, Leadership, Love, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Media, Models of Failure, Models of Success, Moral Agency, Overcoming Addictions, Perseverance, Personal Presentation, Persuasion, Philosophy, Power, Psychological Disorders, Psychology, Purpose, Relationships, Reviews, Sanctification & Defilement, Self-Concept, Self-Control, Society, Solipsism, Sphere of Influence, Stewardship, Teaching, The Hamster, The Power of God, Vetting Women. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Why you will marry the wrong person

  1. injectoman12 says:
    “Marry and you will regret it.
    Don’t marry, you will also regret it.
    Marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way.
    
    Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you’ll regret it.
    Weep over it, you’ll regret that too.
    Laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both.
    
    Hang yourself, you will regret it. [Laughter]
    Don’t hang yourself, you will regret that too.
    Hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you will regret it either way.
    
    Whether you hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you will regret both.”

    Descriptive of the futility of attempting to balance the absurdities of life as a fallen man residing in a fallen world amongst many other fallen, some of whom are really nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. redpillboomer says:

    “Descriptive of the futility of attempting to balance the absurdities of life as a fallen man residing in a fallen world amongst many other fallen, some of whom are really nuts.”

    I’ve come to increasingly see this more and more in talking about relationships, like we do on this blog. The impact of mankind’s fallenness, human brokenness cannot be overestimated. In this life, we’re never going to create a ‘heaven on earth’ situation between a man and a woman. In other words, this IDEAL of fallen humans being able to obtain a blissful romance, a wonderful 40-50-60 years of “perfect” marriage together, is just that IDEALISM.

    IDEALISM
    [īˈdē(ə)ˌlizəm]
    NOUN
    The practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically.Compare with realism.
    “the idealism of youth”
    Synonyms: utopianism · wishful thinking · romanticism · fantasizing · quixotism · daydreaming · impracticability · (in art or literature) the representation of things in ideal or idealized form. Often contrasted with realism.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make things “good” or “best as is possible under the circumstances” given here on earth; it just means we can’t create a relationship free of any impact from the fall during this lifetime. It’s an illusion that we can, and I think this illusion is deeply held within human beings, especially in the West; and it leads to untold UNNECESSARY suffering because we won’t give up this notion that we can create it, when we can’t.

    I’ve seen a few couples in the past, dating and marital, that put it out there that they’ve pulled it off, this “too good to be true” relationship; however, eventually even those “perfect” relationships end up struggling or at least have some difficult struggles. I’ve even facetiously coined a term for it when it does happen, “Trouble in Paradise”, as in, “Welcome to the real world, Mr. and Ms. Blissful couple. Reality bites now doesn’t it? Now get to work and try to make the best of it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      “That doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make things “good” or “best as is possible under the circumstances” given here on earth; it just means we can’t create a relationship free of any impact from the fall during this lifetime. It’s an illusion that we can, and I think this illusion is deeply held within human beings, especially in the West; and it leads to untold UNNECESSARY suffering because we won’t give up this notion that we can create it, when we can’t.”

      Clinging to this illusion that an earthly utopia is truly achievable is one of the main tenets of Gnosticism (i.e. apostasy), as I described in a previous post, The Religion of Gnosticism (2021-10-27).

      “[Gnosticism has] The goal of realizing an ideal human condition, either by avoiding what is evil, or by returning to, or connecting with, an immutable or preeminent source of good.”

      I expanded this further in 10 Defining Traits of Gnosticism (2021-10-28).

      “The underlying “hope” of Gnosticism aspires to achieve an idealized human condition (apart from Christ). It is not anti-fleshly in the spiritual sense, but anti-fleshly in the idealist sense, because it fails to take into account the failings of the fleshly nature. NovaSeeker pointed out that one popular Gnostic approach to dealing with the counter-ideals arising from the fallen nature of the flesh is to call what is natural good, including sin. In addition to the inane logic of this approach, it only glosses over the ugliness of sin with a veneer of vain philosophizing and does not fully take the daily effects of sin into consideration (viz. “whitewashed sepulchers”, as Jesus described in Matthew 23:27).”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. catacombresident says:

    Divine revelation doesn’t set a course to perfect us or our situation, but to mitigate the Fall. It’s supposed to make us long for Eden again, and eager to leave this world when the mission is finished.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LexEterna says:

    “No matter what choices you make, there will be a cost of opportunity. There will be regrets either way. We should accept the fact that we’re going to marry a person who is incompatible in some ways and do the work of love to achieve the compatibility we innately desire.”

    I’ve only been married 3 years, which should technically still be a “honeymoon phase”, but even now I think its not helpful to view my wife as a Skinner box. The only reason I’m still in it is because of the Biblical command for husbands to lead and wash them with the Word and because I believe divorce is never permitted.

    While improvement in our relationship is welcome, it really sucked for a while when I treated compatibility as an unconscious barometer of my performance. It quickly became a works-based dynamic not based on attraction. But I still have much work to do on myself, so I might just be expecting too much.

    I do regret marrying her, but I’m pretty sure I will regret not fulfilling my duty as a husband more. Nevermind the thought of other women.

    And as to “marrying the wrong person”… Sure we marry horridly wrong for compatibility, but I believe we marry perfectly the right person for our sanctification. As Scott elaborated in We Marry Our Own Cross (2020-5-18).

    The quote from Game of Thrones comes to mind : “Love is the death of Duty and Duty is the Death of Love.” But what if your duty is to love? There’s the rub.

    (The latest story on Humans of New York talks about a hopeful and submissive housewife who married the wrong man, who then was sent to prison and eventually bounced back by having to become a man herself in a high-powered career. It’s a heartbreaking tale but drives home the brokenness of this world.)

    Like

    • LexEterna says:

      ^ The above might just be my long winded justification of meditating on God’s sovereignty as an analgesic to the pain of marrying the wrong wife. LOL

      Thanks for the introduction to Attachment theory. It’s a big help.

      Like

    • Jack says:

      “[Marriage] really sucked for a while when I treated compatibility as an unconscious barometer of my performance. It quickly became a works-based dynamic not based on attraction.”

      Yeah, I think what we men truly desire in a relationship is a fluidly reciprocal compatibility, which is another way of saying we long for contentment and sanctification. Women don’t seem to value compatibility as much as the affirmation, attention, drama, feeelings, Tingles, and so on. They will eagerly choose difficult men if there is sufficient emotional impetus to do so.

      Thus, it is too easy for us men to use our in situ estimation of present compatibility as a barometer of the strength and value of the relationship. Men, being performance oriented, tend to internalize this as an indicator of their own self-worth, which is rather self-defeating, as it works against his confidence and having an abundance mindset. It is helpful for men to recognize that women are drawn to what men would consider the more difficult aspects of the relationship. This is partly why a man with a strong Frame is more successful with women. I suppose this is a good thing overall, but because it is not what we specifically desire from the relationship, and because of the hassles involved, we do not recognize it as such, just as de Botton says.

      Men naturally want to seek out and find points of agreement and compatibility with a woman, because that is what men desire, but it tends to kill her feelings of attraction to him. It would be much better if men would instead focus on the more negative and problematic aspects of the woman, and use this to set up hoops for her to jump through (i.e. by making demands), which can be both satisfying to her and healthy for the relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Red Pill Apostle says:

      Lex,

      “I’ve only been married 3 years, which should technically still be a “honeymoon phase”, but even now I think its not helpful to view my wife as a Skinner box. The only reason I’m still in it is because of the Biblical command for husbands to lead and wash them with the Word and because I believe divorce is never permitted.”

      You sound similar to 16 years ago me. Here are some things I wish I knew when I was 3 years into marriage. For context, I married the proverbial “debt free virgin without tattoos”, and we married young. She turned 22 a few weeks prior to the wedding.

      If your wife does not know what she wants from you as a husband, or she can’t clearly express what she wants from you as a husband, but somehow she “knows it when she sees it”, then she wants masculinity. Masculinity does not worry about her reactions or emotional storms; it acts in the best interest of the mission and washes her in the Word to bring her in line when necessary.

      If sexual intimacy is an issue, you need to let her know that she has to figure it out and that you’ll be there to help her. It could be physical where it’s painful for her. It could be upbringing where she has been taught wrongly about sex in marriage, or hasn’t been taught the biblical lessons about what sex in marriage is to be. If there is an issue in this area of the marriage, it must be solved much sooner than later.

      If you do not have children yet, do not, under any circumstances have children until any marital issues are fixed to your satisfaction. If you are now questioning the wisdom of marrying your wife and then add kids to the mix, you will question your own sanity. The probability that adding kids to a tough marriage will make it worse is very high. Don’t be afraid to lay out the issues you have and how you want them fixed, because this is good for your marriage. Don’t worry about how she’ll react, and under no circumstances should you back down since you’ll have carefully considered the issues. She may threaten to divorce you over this and that is OK. She is an adult who is responsible for her own choices, and if she’s threatening divorce or laying down ultimatums, then you have a clear picture of her rebellion and unwillingness to submit to God’s ordained hierarchy of authority in marriage. If this is the case you have your work cut out for you. It can be fixed with lots of work and the sooner you start the easier it will be.

      Divorce is absolutely permitted, but is not the ideal. Sex is what makes marriage, marriage. If she is withholding or has been with another man, divorce is 100% on the table. Withholding sex is a form of sexual immorality just like having an affair. If she’s been with another man, I’d tell you to divorce her, no questions asked for a host of reasons. If she is withholding for any reason, you need to walk through the steps of addressing sin in a fellow believer. If she is unrepentant, then I’d strongly consider divorcing her. I can tell you that Mrs. Apostle will not tell me ‘no’, nor will I tell her ‘no’ when it comes to sex, and I can affirm that this biblical standard (1 Corinthians 7) for sex in marriage is quite good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jack says:

        LexEterna, RPA, et al.,
        We don’t encourage divorce, but OTOH, we don’t encourage living in fear of divorce either. God intends for us to live in peace (c.f. 1 Corinthians 7:15). See this post for more.

        Σ Frame: Is Married Dread Game a transgression of marital vows? (2022-1-17)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jack says:

        “Sex is what makes marriage, marriage.”

        More and more, we’re coming to this conclusion. How could we have ever missed this?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scott says:

        When you see that 90-something-year-old couple at the restaurant, staring longingly into each others eyes as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist, you have to realize that what bonded them together like that wasn’t reading poetry and going to church. Even if at that age, they aren’t capable of it due to physical limitations, he’s thinking, “If I could I would take you out to the parking lot and have my way with you in the car.”

        I know that’s what I will be thinking at that stage.

        Failure to understand that is your own fault or blind ignorance or something.

        Like

      • Red Pill Apostle says:

        “When you see that 90-something-year-old couple at the restaurant, staring longingly into each others eyes as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist, you have to realize that what bonded them together like that wasn’t reading poetry and going to church. Even if at that age, they aren’t capable of it due to physical limitations, he’s thinking, ‘If I could I would take you out to the parking lot and have my way with you in the car.’

        Thank you Scott for that simultaneously beautiful sentiment of marriage and nauseating imagery.

        I have a great aunt who married again in her 70s after being widowed. The happy couple is now in their mid 80s. One of her son-in-laws is a physician and the poor man gets subjected to medical questions from family members I am sure he’d rather not answer. One such question surrounded safety and the frequency of use of a certain blue pill. Apparently, it’s at least a once a week medication, which the good doctor had to get off his chest over drinks one summer vacation. I think this is pretty good for a couple of people who are great grandparents.

        From anecdotal evidence, Scott’s take is right on the money.

        Like

      • lastholdout says:

        “More and more, we’re coming to this conclusion. How could we have ever missed this?”

        Some of us haven’t. It is quite plain scripturally:

        Genesis 2:23–25 (emphasis added)
        Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she will be called Woman, for she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh. They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

        God recognizes our joining as one happens through the act of sex. In 1 Corinthians 6:16, Paul uses the example of the unmarried to make the point that sexual intercourse is how we become one:

        1 Corinthians 6:16
        What? Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’

        Paul’s use of the unmarried as an illustration is no accident. There is nothing else in the marriage relationship that makes a man and woman “become one” but their sexual activity. Not the vows on their wedding day, nor sharing the same home. Nothing else makes them one.

        Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 7 supports healthy, ongoing sexual relations between husband and wife. Overtly expressed sexual desire for each other is an important, defining trait of marriage. In the context of Christian marriage, desire for each other is no longer lust. Song of Solomon affirms that marriage is a haven for desire and sensual, sexual relations. Sex between husband and wife is the act that renews the union and makes a couple “one.” This is the way it was designed… by God.

        Liked by 2 people

      • LexEterna says:

        “For context, I married the proverbial “debt free virgin without tattoos”, and we married young. She turned 22 a few weeks prior to the wedding.”

        Whilst vetting isn’t any guarantee, you’ve surely made a better choice/vetting than ever I had because I didn’t do any vetting at all. Context: She was a hardcore feminist-atheist with N=15+. Her mother cheated on her dad and they are separated to this day. Her grandfather cheated on his grandmother. Her uncle and two aunts are all separated from their spouses by their infidelity as well. I am the only relationship she has never cheated in. Generational curses are real.

        As for me, I’m a typical product of purity culture. I read heavily into the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” fad and turned down all sort of female attention since high school (which I had definitely had more than the average guy) in fears of sinning sexually. I lived with a covert contract that the Lord will reward me with a faithful and constantly horny wife for my good deeds. All it accomplished was leaving me ill-equipped to face the meatgrinder that is the SMP. My first kiss was literally with my wife as girlfriend when I was 24 and she 25. I got her pregnant shortly after we started dating and we married in 6 months to save the baby from a threatened abortion (by her fears of being a single-mom).

        The first 2 years of our marriage were fraught with frequent “almost” emotional cheating with an orbiter ex. The trickle truth of her past sexual partners (I thought I was the 3rd) and ex’s lead me to discover the Red Pill and by God’s grace, Godly masculinity in blogs like these.

        “If your wife does not know what she wants from you as a husband, or she can’t clearly express what she wants from you as a husband, but somehow she “knows it when she sees it”, then she wants masculinity. Masculinity does not worry about her reactions or emotional storms; it acts in the best interest of the mission and washes her in the Word to bring her in line when necessary.”

        This is true 100%. I have still a long ways to go in developing PSALM traits, but she has surprisingly come around and professed Christ, given up her feminist ways, and is committed to becoming a submissive housewife — All by the grace of God. It was only when I was at the point of calling it quits that I realized I had nothing to lose from leading her to Christ to the best of my ability. There were times she’d throw the Bible out the window and pray to Satan when I’d invite her to nightly study, cuss me to hell and all when I’d call her out. I had no choice but to hang on.

        As for divorce, I am still firmly convinced that is not permitted but I fully agree with the rest of your points. I will not stand living in the same roof with prolonged sexual denial. The most I can do is physically separate and live a life of celibacy (almost a practical impossibility).

        Nowadays she rarely denies me. But passion is far and in between. I suppose the onus is on me to cultivate SMV and incite desire on her part. It’s a bitter truth that Godliness does not by itself give the tingles.

        I wish I’d had read your comment when I was back in high school. I was constantly being told on what not to do and what to avoid. There was no goal to be had, no admonition to cultivate masculinity, nor even a Godly definition of it. Yet it is only because you guys have lived all this already that I’ve come to benefit from your wisdom this early in my marriage.

        Thank you. RPA, Jack, and everyone here at Sigma Frame.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: What Changes after Marriage? | Σ Frame

  6. anonymous_ng says:

    Some years ago, while reading up on the beautiful brownstone houses in downtown Chicago, I came across the idea that in that time, the successful businessmen who could afford these homes were also responsible for choosing the designs and decor of the interiors unlike in the modern era when design and decoration of the home is seen nearly universally as being the wife’s domain.

    This has led me to consider an idea that men because of both nature, and nurture, are generally more agreeable than women, and as a result, men defer to women so often that it makes women the defacto leader of things, and this pattern is set early in the relationship.

    So, perhaps it’s less the wrong woman, though I do believe that is a thing, than it is that men need to lead from the beginning. For example thedeti and RPA both seem to have turned things around in their marriages by leading.

    Like

    • Oscar says:

      I have zero interest in decoration. I’ll veto things I don’t like, but spending the time to actually pick out decorations is a pain. No thanks.

      Like

      • anonymous_ng says:

        But, that’s what I mean. You have an opinion, and you veto things. Some men and women seem to think that he should have no say at all in how the home is decorated, etc.

        What I’m really trying to say is that a man should have an opinion about things, and make his desires and opinions known.

        There is nothing inherently wrong with letting the wife take charge of a thing, but in the end the husband is still responsible as the head. The danger is in going along to get along until the husband has given up headship by inaction.

        Like

    • Red Pill Apostle says:

      Anonymous,

      “So, perhaps it’s less the wrong woman, though I do believe that is a thing, than it is that men need to lead from the beginning. For example thedeti and RPA both seem to have turned things around in their marriages by leading.”

      Yup. I have an opinion on anything Mrs. RPA brings to me, even if I don’t care what the choice is. The words, “I don’t know”, are no longer uttered. At worst I tell her, “I want to think it through better and I’ll get back to you.” This is one of the strategies that I implemented as I was in the throes of fixing the marriage. Men naturally have opinions on things, because we judge if something helps or hinders us on our mission. Even when I hadn’t figured it out well enough yet, I did the “fake it till you make it”, and over time, having opinions and expressing them became second nature.

      I’m with Oscar on decorating …. That is Mrs. RPA’s domain and she checks with me to make sure I don’t hate what she is doing. She has become good at making my home feel like home and it’s rare now that I don’t like her choices.

      Like

      • Oscar says:

        “…decorating …. That is Mrs. RPA’s domain and she checks with me to make sure I don’t hate what she is doing.”

        You worded it better than I did. As long as she stays within the budget, and I don’t hate what she’s doing, I don’t care.

        Like

  7. Pingback: An Analogy of Risk Management | Σ Frame

  8. Pingback: Unlucky in Love? | Σ Frame

  9. Scotttt says:

    Excellent.

    If I had to describe my treatments’ theoretical orientation, I would call it [Melanie] “Kleinian.”

    I rely in large part on her ideas on attachment theory with a heavy dose of archtypal modeling.

    We absolutely spend most of our lives trying to fix the traumas of childhood by engaging with people our subconscious identifies as proxies for vicarious healing.

    But I don’t really do my treatment because I don’t have the patience or kindness to try and contain everyone else’s emotional damage when I have enough trouble understanding and dealing with my own.

    Like

    • Jack says:

      @Scott,

      “We absolutely spend most of our lives trying to fix the traumas of childhood by engaging with people our subconscious identifies as proxies for vicarious healing.”

      I’ve also found this to be true. My pastor has two degrees, one in divinity and one in psychology. He said about 30% of the people he counsels are so traumatized by specific childhood experiences that it’s literally psychologically impossible for them to trust God! Most of his counseling concerns helping people face these past issues and find healing. Many people can’t even remember exactly what caused their trauma, so in these cases, he calls a lady who has a “special gift” (some kind of psychic ability) to help him out. She prays with the person, and then she can identify the age at which a person was traumatized, and she also gets some other clues too. When she tells the person this information, they can usually identify exactly what happened to them. After they can identify the issue and talk about it, then my pastor can help them work through the issue.

      I found out about this because I went to see my pastor about some marital problems, and they identified some childhood issues that we had. I had two such issues that were rather major, and my wife had six minor issues. After receiving this counseling from my pastor and this lady, I can say it has helped us immensely. In fact, it’s quite miraculous. I’ve been thinking about writing a post about this, but the details are rather long and complicated to explain. My pastor wrote an 80 page book to help people understand the nature and the effects of childhood trauma, generational curses, idolatry, inner vows, sexual sin, witchcraft, and such matters. So it’s not something I could cover in just a few blog posts. I urged him to publish it, but he refuses to do so. He said that it is sensitive material that needs pastoral guidance and it is not for casual reading.

      My questions for Scott are these:
      1– Do you know of any passages in the Bible that address this kind of psychological trauma and the need for healing?
      2– How does your quote (cited above) fit into your concept of Christianity?

      Like

      • Scott says:

        Unfortunately, I have a blind spot in my theological training. The seminary I attended taught from the nouthetic model of human behavior change which essentially states that psychology is a worldview that is, at its core, anti-Christian. As a discipline, when social scientists discover something about how people work they merely stumbled across something from general revelation that is either already in the scripture or irrelevant to sanctification — a mere parlor trick.

        This ultimately stunted my growth in both areas — as a biblical scholar and as an academic psychologist. I struggled in both graduate programs due to this extreme dichotomy.

        The scripture says nothing about Autism, (or other pervasive developmental disorders) schizophrenia, bipolar processes, or dissociative disorders. But those things severely impact a person’s well being and even their soul and path to salvation (or theosis).

        Neither do the canons or the homilies of the fathers of the church.

        Trauma, maybe. I think the relationship between David and Jonathan is fraught with traumatic processes that offer a glimpse of why childhood relationships are so important to our development.

        But if you can’t see that the girl(s) you pick to fall in love with, and the relationship that ensues, is an echo of things past as you try desperately to fix whatever went wrong with mom, dad, whomever, you are obtuse in your defense mechanisms and will continue to bang your head up the wall in those relationships until you figure how to confront those demons.

        Like

  10. Scott says:

    I have no idea why the avatar is calling me “Scotttt”.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Agreeableness and Personality | Σ Frame

  12. Pingback: Infiltrating the Minds of the Masses through Suspension of Disbelief and Social Catharsis/Cathexis | Σ Frame

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s