It seems the secret to a successful marriage is having low expectations. Yep, thatâ€™s right. Ditch those high standards, settle for something less than youâ€™d really like, and youâ€™ll probably avoid the divorce courts.
According to a recent study, most couples get into trouble when their expectations are not being met. And we all know that unmet expectations can lead to frustration, blaming, unhappiness, and possibly cyanide-laced cookies.
Maybe the new bride thought marriage would cure her Prince Charming of his juvenile behaviour, like his habit of sticking a straw up each of his nostrils in an attempt to do a walrus impersonation whenever heâ€™s had too much to drink. Then thereâ€™s his dorky sense of style, which she thought could benefit from a makeover, but the new clothes she bought him hang in the wardrobe, barely worn. Not to mention his dislike of babies, which she thought would miraculously disappear when he witnessed his friends becoming doting dads.
Maybe the groom thought he was entering into a contract that would guarantee him sex and food on demand, someone on hand to laugh at all his jokes, and a woman who would be cured of her compulsive shopping disorder the minute sheâ€™d signed the marriage certificate.
People donâ€™t change just because you want them to morph into a smarter, sexier, more disciplined version of the person you married. No one is going to meet all your needs and wants, and fulfil all your expectations.
Hollywood movies, TV programmes, cartoons, fairy tales, romance novels â€¦ they all fuel the expectations we have of living happily ever after. And if we donâ€™t achieve the dream, itâ€™s so easy to blame your spouse and start all over again with someone new, while holding onto the same expectations. Duh!
I suspect a lot of dating sites also fuel this myth that we can have it all, if the questions they ask subscribers are anything to go by. But I have come up with a solution.
Soon you will be able to log on to the 2020 Partner Database (currently under construction on the desktop in my back room), choose your desired demographic, enter the two attributes you deem necessary in a successful relationship, say, kindness and respect, and watch as the profiles of thousands of people, who also rate kindness and respect at the top of their list, appear on your computer screen.
To further narrow the field, you type in another attribute, say, tidiness. In your last relationship, after the initial searing hot passion showed signs of waning, you began to resent the underwear discarded on the bedroom floor, the damp post-shower towels lying on the unmade bed, and the cups of half-drunk coffee abandoned in the study.
Then you provide the Database with a leisure activity you would like to share with your prospective partner, such as origami by candlelight, eating only at restaurants that have a name beginning with the letter â€œPâ€, or listening to Bach in the bath. You want to get it right this time, because your last partner was addicted to computer games and fly fishing, and spent most of his free time either riveted to a computer screen or standing thigh-deep in slow-flowing rivers.
There are no Database questions that ask, â€œOn a scale of 1 to 10, how romantic are you?â€ Or â€œHow emotionally healthy are you?â€ Or â€œWhat would you like your closest friends to say about you at your funeral?â€ I mean to say, who really pays any attention to any of that stuff, anyway?
The 2020 Partner Database also doesnâ€™t care to ask subscribers about the last book they read. If you care so much about the books someone reads, you should join a book club.
â€œWhat about other attributes?â€ I can hear some of you asking right about now. â€œI would like to meet a man with a great sense of humour. Will I be able to find such a person on your site?â€
There are no questions relating to a sense of humour on my site, because everyone on a dating site claims to have a sense of humour â€“ probably because they are not married.
You wonâ€™t find someone to complete you, or make you feel deliriously happy all the time, or agree with everything you say. But you will find people with low expectations â€“ people who realise there is no such thing as the perfect partner, or the perfect marriage, or the perfect children.
Itâ€™s all about keeping it real.