Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hiding the Ball

I recently read an article about a study that measured the happiness of married couples one, five and ten years after marriage.  And they didn't measure the happiness of just any old married couples; they compared happiness of arranged marriages versus "love marriages."  Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), the couples whose marriages had been arranged were happier than their love marriage peers five years after getting hitched and much MUCH happier ten years after tying the knot.

Granted I have no idea how this study "measured" and "compared" happiness, but my first thought was well, obviously, the arranged marriage couples were quote unquote happier.  Their expectations were lower!  Happiness is nothing if not relative.  Case in point: I loved law school.  But was I actually happier while I was in law school than I had been in college or at any point in my life before that?  Or was it simply that I had expected it to be horrible and when it wasn't, I was suddenly not just happy that it didn't suck but I was also happy that my decision to attend law school had been validated and I wouldn't eventually regret being saddled with a miserable amount of debt to pay for a miserable three years.  So, my point is, of course arranged marriage couples are happier.  They probably expected it to suck.   So when it didn't suck as much as it did, they were happy that it didn't suck and on top of it all, they were happy that they were happy.

(Or.  Maybe the people whose marriages were arranged had spent two years being single in New York and had given up hope that they would ever find anyone so they were just grateful that their parents were able to find someone for them to marry at all.)

The study did not espouse any such cynical theories.  The one that struck me the most was the idea that in arranged marriages, everyone's faults are out there on the table from the start.  Everything has already been vetted and all the cobwebs have been swept out of the closet.  You know exactly what you're getting into.  On the the other hand, with 21st century dating, you can spend months getting to know someone and still have no idea what the catch is.

Now, I realize that maybe not everyone has a catch.   And for my own sanity, I think I'd want to know that too.  If there are NO deal breakers attached to a particular guy, it would be great to know that up front, so I could stop looking for faults and stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I feel like I've spend way too much time trying to figure out the end of the phrase "he's really great but..."  And similarly, I feel like I've expended a lot of energy hiding my crazy girl side from guys I've dated.  So maybe it would be nice to just say to a guy at the very beginning, "Hi, nice to meet you.  And by the way, I can get a little nutso at times, I'm a commitment-phobe and I don't like holding hands."

This all sounds so nice to me in theory.  After years of futilely playing the dating game, the idea of having a little cheat sheet, a guide to getting the next level in Mario Bros., well, it just sounds lovely.  But then I wonder, if I did have such a cheat sheet, would I ever give anyone a chance in the first place? Would anyone give me a chance in the first place?  Maybe it IS better not to know someone's faults until you've had a chance to meet each other and sparks have flown.  Maybe it's only after falling in love with someone that you can really accept someone's faults because you actually want the good to outweigh the bad.

So is it better to have all the information up front?   Or is it better to keep hiding the ball?  I'm not sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment