The Mate Who’s Right For You

Katie Young
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Wednesday - July 30, 2008

I’m at a point in my life where most of my friends are getting married and having babies. It’s a happy and exciting time for everyone - lots of new beginnings!

Watching my friends find their life partners is a thrill. I think back to the history of bad ex-boyfriends among us and it feels good to be able to say, “This guy she’s marrying is a good one. He will treat my friend right.”

There is comfort and satisfaction in feeling like you don’t have to worry about your friends’ romantic happiness anymore. No more fielding desperate, tearful calls at 2 a.m. when your friend’s man is still out partying and isn’t answering his phone.

Marriage means safety, security, stability. Right? At least this is what we hope for. But divorce is still far too common. What scares me more than those couples who get divorced because they grow apart are the couples who divorce because one partner discovers a secret life of their spouse they didn’t know about.

Is this even possible? Can you really live with someone and not know a major part of who they are and what they do? Famous model Christie Brinkley would say “yes.” After all, she had no clue about her husband’s pricey Internet porn and swinger site habit, nor his 18-year-old mistress/assistant.

Even outside of Hollywood drama, this is happening to people you know. A friend of mine on the Mainland discovered, after four years of marriage, that her husband - like Brinkley’s husband - had an addiction to Internet pornography, strip bars and drugs.

In the midst of a divorce, my friend wonders, “How could I not have known? We lived together. We ate dinner together every night. We used the same computer. He seemed totally normal.”

It’s a scary thought to think that the person to whom you are making a lifetime commitment may not be the person you think he is.

But how can you know for sure? I guess there are no guarantees. The best you can do is to do some smart thinking before you fall in love in the first place.

My father recently forwarded me a column by Maureen Dowd titled, “An Ideal Husband.” In this column, Dowd sites Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest, who has been giving a lecture to high school seniors (mostly girls) for 40 years on “Whom Not to Marry.”

Connor says there are several things to look out for:

* Never marry a man who has no friends because this usually means he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands.

* Does this man use money responsibly or is he stingy? Connor says most marriages that founder do so because of money.

* Look for a man with a backbone. Steer clear of someone whose life you can run. Connor says it’s good to have a doormat, but not if it’s your husband.

* Stay away from the mama’s boy. If he consults his mother on the honeymoon destination instead of consulting you, it’s a bad sign.

* Find a man with a funny bone. Connor says a man with a sense of humor covers a multitude of sins.

* Don’t marry someone you need to fix. Connor says don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.

* Communication is key. More marriages are killed by silence than by violence, says Connor. The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive.

* Look at his family. You’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude toward women by doing this. Connor says to think about if there is a history of divorce in the family, an atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and beliefs worthy and similar to yours?

* Are your religious beliefs similar?

* Connor asks, does he possess those character traits that add up to good human being - the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?

While this might not be the be-all end-all to finding the perfect husband, it’s a good start. In fact, I ended a relationship because I could not stand the way the guy treated his mother and I kept imagining that down the line, that guy would treat me the same way. I also realized, somewhere in my 20s, that while the strong, silent type was intriguing, trying to communicate with someone like that was a losing battle.

I think Connor has some excellent points. It’s a lot to have to consider, but finding your lifelong partner could perhaps be the most important decision of your life - all the more reason to choose wisely.

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