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We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy. 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.
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.
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.
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.
But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple.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.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 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.