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Born in the UK but now living in Australia, Paul Fox has travelled to many places throughout China. He has seen the lighter side, the darker side, both the gentle and the seedy sides. He documents his experiences and is willing to share them with anyone who wants to listen. He is not afraid to say things exactly how he sees them, and is quite happy to "name and shame" when necessary.
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About Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person from the NYT    

By Paul Fox
1474 Views | 4 Comments | 9/5/2016 6:40:53 AM

The following article is based (mostly) on something I read online in the New York Times titled "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" by ALAIN de BOTTON. It was so pertinent to dating, including Chinese dating, that I had to share it with you.....



The NYT article is in italics, interspered with comments of my own.



It's one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.



The divorce rate - especially in China, is testimony to that!



Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date should be: “And how crazy are you?”



In the lower-grade classes that I teach at school (grades 7 and 8), I have become known as the 'Crazy teacher'. Everyone loves a little 'crazy', though often refuse to admit it. Although that said, spontananeity is often confused with craziness which is totally unfair!



Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.



A classic case of 'complacency' perhaps? I've often stated on this forum that I believe complacency is the root cause of all relationship break-ups. The more I think about this, the more I am convinced of its truth.



Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.



Read that last paragraph again and think about the Chinese ideology of 'Hello, will you marry me?' OK, so that statement may have a certain flippancy about it, but in the main it's quite close to the truth. Many Chinese people will marry for what they call 'suitability'. One of my Chinese colleagues, (a young, beautiful, single woman), had been searching for someone 'suitable' for quite some time. Having gone on endless 'blind-dates', she was finally introduced to a lawyer. Well, she's a talented music teacher with a bright future, (she was a finalist on the Chinese 'X-factor'), so suddenly, she and the lawyer both fit into the 'suitability' box! Love???? Well, they must LEARN to love each other over time....



For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.



Yes, and the marriage of 'reason' is still prevalent in China.



What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.



Again, enter the 'Hello, will you marry me?' woman. They believe thay are trying to turn unreasonable reason into instinct. When in fact, it's actually the other way around.



But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.



To any western man who is divorced, the above paragraph should ring so many bells in your head that you are in danger of becoming deaf!



The older we get; the more failed relationships we have; the more we become hurt, and the more experienced we become, only re-inforces the fact that in life, there are many different kinds of 'love'.



For instance, the love you have for your mother is different to the love you have for your own kids, which is different again to the love you have for your siblings, your friends, and of course, your partner.



We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.



'Oh, you are too picky!', is a phrase I have heard many times. So does the phrase 'I'm not desperate to find a partner' = 'You're too picky' ? Are they the same? In some people's minds they are!



So ask yourself the question - 'Why did I join CLM?' Now be honest with yourself and decide if you joined CLM because you WANT to be picky, or did you join because you are desperate?



Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.



Any relationship between a man and a woman will only ever find its zenith in the early stages of that relationship. Any couple who says they still enjoy that raw, passionate, rip-each-others-clothes-off kind of sex 20 years on, is either lying or extremely lucky.



Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.



Precisely!



The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.



We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.



WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.



And therein lies the problem. Sacrifice! - We don't though do we? People are too quick to run to the arms of another, stay at the pub till closing time hoping she will be fast asleep when we get home. How many divorced men would honestly say that they stayed in their marriage too long? How many couples stay together just for the sake of the kids? How many couples are still living a false lie in a relationship where complacency took a hold many years before? How many men are waiting until their kids leave home so that they can quit their marriage and go out to find what they THINK is true happiness?



This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.



Again.....complacency !



The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.



This is where the Chinese attitude appears to be totally flawed. That last sentence again - 'Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition'. Yet in China, it remains the precondition in many cases.



Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.



For 'romanticism', read 'fairies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden'. I have no problem with romance and believe it or not, I am quite capable of being extremely romantic when the mood takes me. However, I remain a realist. Romance and romanticism can quite often be at different ends of a scale.



The person that wrote this article for the New York Times is a realist too. It is without doubt one of the most inspiring and eye-opening articles I have ever read on the subject of marriage and relationships. The author deserves an award in my opinion !



Just as a footnote....



Remember, girls..........The perfect man.....



Doesn't Drink



Doesn't Smoke



Doesn't do Drugs



Doesn't Swear



Doesn't look at other Women



Doesn't come home Late



Doesn't Exist!


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 4 of 4) 1
#2016-09-04 15:12:38 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Paul, the article you are writing about is indeed brilliant, and we thank you for bringing it to our attention. Many of your comments are also quite astute and of great value, 



However, your main point seems to me to be that the traditional Chinese POV on marriage, which basically is that you should marry someone who is compatable with you at as many levels as possible (and one of those levels is his or her parents approval), and then hope it will erupt with love later on, is a falacious way to look at marriage and is therefore doomed to fail. I can't agree with that observation.



I strongly suspect that marriages based on that premise may lack the passion that Westerrn marriages will have in the beginning, but in the end, after the passion has died as it inevitably must in the Western marriage, there really is likely nothing left to hold the marriage together. The Chinese marriage, although lacking passion, will still contain many areas of compatability that might act as glue and that is missing in the Western marriage.



I think the manner in which family is dying in the West, and much less so in China, is pretty strong evidence that the Chinese viewpoint of how people should decide if they are right for a lifetime together is considerably more likely to succeed than is our viewpoint.



I'll be interested to hear what the Chinese women think about this issue.


#2016-09-05 11:27:30 by melcyan @melcyan

Paul, thank you for bringing this article to our attention.

I have just bought the book that is behind this article -"The Course of Love" by Alain De Botton. I am only a quarter way through but it is great reading so far. It describes the relationship progress of a couple from beginning to end with a philsophical discussion running parallel to the story. As you read it you cannot help  but reflect on your own relationships of the past and cringe at the mistakes that we make as a consequence of buying into the modern myth of romantic love.

Here is a quote from the second chapter "Our understanding of love has been hijacked and beguiled by its first distracting moments. We have allowed our love stories to end way to early. We seem to know far too much about how love starts, and recklessly little about how it might continue."

His book might make some of us rethink how we go about choosing our life partner and what skills we need to develop to make the relationship work.

#2016-09-05 16:24:07 by WarmLifeGz7 @WarmLifeGz7

sometimes I wish I could use wechat "stickers" here ...   in this corner weighing in at whatever weight ... Da Fox ...  with lots of "realism" and screaming upon his soap box ( vainly hoping others will accept the inane pontificating of those who scream loudly upon said soap boxes in order to bring englightenment to the masses ... P.T. Barnum syndrome )  Remember girls ( condenscendingly? )  the Perfect Man ( loads of sarcasm ? )   yada yada yada yada ...  (insert aforementionded wechat stickers --  korean pop singer laughing his head off --  picard in Star Trek form laughing his head off -- jim carrey laughing and turning with disdain --  and 40s hollywood style gal with the caption I don't care ... wildly waving her hands in the air -- )   

doesn't exist?   :D:D(rofl)(rofl)(rofl)   

  drinking ( assuming this means alcoholic content )  smoking ( assuming this means cigarettes or cigar )... drugs ( assuming this is of the narcotic addictive variety )  swearing  ( of what sort ? ) coming home late ( assuming this is the social behavior of putting in too many hours at local entertainment establishments -- which range from quiet pubs to outrageously noisy ktv, bars, nightclubs, smoke filled filled rooms attempting to choke the life out of anyone ( second smoke is deadly enough without most of the crowd filling up the available air from all the chain smoking -- making Beijing air seem like a sunday afternoon picnic )   

looking at other women ?     (I will not even hazard a guess at what lurks behind this point in his mind --  )

I guess we should elevate Paul and Barry to the rank of keenly insightful legendary Sinologists ...  :D:D:D:D:D

unfortunately, Paul has allowed his emotive soap box rantings to forget that there are always exceptions to his rules ...  or his perceived stereotypes 

there are currently three males here who are not addicted nor interested in the dysfunctional social behaviors described above ...  and for the last item ... all of three of them prefer to have a balanced nuanced view of it ... when with their ladies they prefer to greatly reduce looking at other women ... (the percentage is very low indeed out of courtesy for their ladies )  this also applies to obnoxious usage of many english words as well --   especially the forty usages of a word beginning with F ...  as well as many others --  it is called courtesy in certain social environments ...  

in my view these are dysfunctional -- however, the screaming on the soap boxes from those that declare they have their inalienable "rights" to do whatever they friggin please  -- (while screaming and yelling at those who are PC and otherwise I do not belong to the PC crowd either -- )  

the biggest reason I do not participate in these social or private activities is definitely Elementary, My Dear Watson --- it is not healthy ... for body or mind or emotive areas ... 

countless and innumberable  links from Google (is not my friend) ... would be boring to include as well as knee jerk reactions ...

of course there are many expats living here that enjoy contemptuous yada yada yada jokes aimed at people like me and others who do not follow their inane addictive habits ...  

When Chinese say ... love me love my dog ( and the other related original saying)   it will sometimes be construed as saying -- you must accept whatever unhealthy habits I have ...  

We all make choices -- I have no soap box to rant against these unhealthy habits at all ... I simply avoid as much social contact as possible and refrain from getting involved in pointless discussions as well ...  i.e. inside a Spa (swimming pool .. cafeteria .. mini movie theater  ... lounge chairs with mini tv -- etc )  I was sitting near a group of chinese people smoking with gusto and showing off their circles of smoke and whatever ... I decided to demonstrate a point ... I went to them ( a few steps ) pointed to a large no smoking sign and pointed to their smoking ... several of them quickly blew smoke rings directly into my face and then boisterious laughing and joking followed ...  I decided to find a manager and asked him why these people refuse to follow the large no smoking sign ... he told me --  tut tut .. they are paying customers so there is no need to bother them  (inside I was thinking wtf?  )   

although I found the article from the NY Times to not be all that insightful or enlightening -- some of the concluding comments were useful ...  Paul did hit a triple with his comment concerning the complacency of couples towards each other -- which most likely gives us a very good insightful reason for John's happy and healthy marriage --  

there is no need to accept pessimistic thinking either ... 

and now we return to Paul's continuing episodes of blogging ...  enjoy ... 

#2016-09-06 13:54:27 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

@WarmLifeGz7
 My 'soap box' got wet and collapsed a long time ago. These days I just re-iterate words uttered by others from their own soap box!
I remember a long time ago when an extremely beautiful girl told me "I'll only go out with you if you quit smoking'.
Had I done so, then the next step would likely have been 'I'll only marry you if you quit drinking', then to use your phrase, it would have gone on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Women marry men in the hope they will change, but they don't.
Men marry women in the hope they WON'T change, but they do!


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