How do I choose a life partner?
That inevitable time has come. The moment you were probably contemplating and maybe even running away from has finally arrived – the day your parents sit you down or mention slyly in passing that it’s time you got married. You see your entire life flash in front of your eyes and wonder why this moment had to arrive so fast, why you had to grow up so soon! You’ve noticed those glances and subtle gestures your parents made trying to push this moment towards you. It rang alarm bells in your head and you got out of there instantly. Eventually, the pursuit by your parents may have become more rigorous and not so subtle with them bringing up the topic every time they saw your face. And then one day, that fateful moment occurred – the day a proposal dropped by and knocked on your life’s door!
If you are someone who has made peace with the entire arranged marriage scenario, proposals and match-making suddenly become a large part of your life. So much so that that is all your family can talk about, extended relatives included. Suddenly the pressure to get married has doubled if not tripled and you find yourself facing the fact that there are decisions to be made, many of them extremely delicate and life-defining. If you are confused, don’t worry. You have every right to be!
How can you choose someone to be your life partner when you have known them for such a short while? You may be someone who takes your own time to open and warm up to someone. What if, by then, it’s too late? Do you just close your eyes and pick a person or do you have a list of criteria that the person should match? Maybe you think, ‘I will just leave the entire process to my parents’. It can be an extremely frustrating, exasperating and highly stressful procedure.
Take heart. This isn’t the end of the road. Given the situation you might be in, the following can be a helpful place to begin at with regard to the decisions you have to make.
There are so many aspects to a person you would like to see in your potential spouse. The person should be well educated; should share similar if not the same values as you; should be respectable; should be healthy physically, emotionally and mentally; should be a family person; should have a stable job/income; and so on. The list could be never ending because we all want that special someone to be as compatible with us as possible. However, you may come across situations where you see a distribution of these characteristics in different people and aren’t as lucky to find your entire list in one person. If you do, then there’s no looking back, but if you don’t, it’s ok.
It is important to understand that sometimes we may have high expectations because we obviously want to choose the best from what we’ve got. It’s ok to want this that and the other as well, but at what cost? Research has shown that gender differences do exist in choosing a life partner. Men and women tend to choose partners who are similar to them and those who represent their preferences. People who are emotionally stable, intellectually stimulating, pleasant and accommodating in social situations tend to be more favored in being chosen as a potential life partner. Factors such as height and weight do not play as important a role in choosing someone as we think they do.
Women tend to be a bit more choosey because of biological undercurrents. By this, I mean, women choose someone who is healthy, whom she will be able to start a family with, who has good social standing and who earns enough to keep the boat afloat (now and in future). Research shows that women make such choices based on the evolutionary perspective proposed by Charles Darwin – that they prefer a man who will help her not just have children but who will be there to take care of the family and invest in it the long term. Men, in their turn, choose women who are healthy, emotionally stable and who can help create and maintain a family with him. Being loving, caring and understanding are of prime importance. In today’s world, education plays an important role because education is a direct link to a more basic necessity – to survive. Therefore while men may not stress as much on the educational qualifications of their partner, education and social standing as women do, these criteria rank high in women’s choices.
It is important (and interesting) to note that not finding the “person of our dreams” has no significant effect on one’s married life. But getting there takes a lot of effort from both partners.
Talking it over with a counsellor in order to get a more objective and unbiased perspective can help you make the choice you might have been running away from most of your life. At TalkItOver, we provide professional counselling for individuals, couples and families to help you deal with your struggles in a safe and warm environment.