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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chance couplings vs. arranged marriages

The NY Post just ran an article about a new TV series, Married at First Sight, on FYI, which premiered Tuesday night at 9PM. It's about three couples who are married without ever having met before. The show matches people who are compatible on paper; after four weeks, they can decide whether to stay married or get divorced.

Four experts -- a sexologist, spiritualist, psychologist, and sociologist -- winnow down a list of 625 potential pairings until they come up with the three best matches.

At first, it seems like the kind of junky reality TV/manufactured drama that has gotten so much play this past decade. And, it sorta is. But it's hard not to wonder if these couples aren't actually better matched than your average bride and groom.

Think about how marriage normally works: a guy marries the best-looking girl he can get (provided she's not incredibly noxious). And a girl marries the most successful guy she can get (provided he's not incredibly noxious).

Sure, other things count, like "chemistry," and similar interests, and, of course, sex. But the most important part of the equation usually boils down to looks and money. Other than that, newlyweds are often poorly matched.

During a normal courtship process, most people put their best foot forward -- to the point where it's almost a false foot. Everyone pretends to be a little nicer, and smarter, and wittier, and more well-adjusted than they actually are.

Plain, unvarnished honesty tends to be in short supply: how often does someone confide, beforehand, "Listen, I just thought you oughta know, I'm bipolar."

Or, "It's been so hard starving myself to stay below 140. I can't wait till I get married and don't have to diet anymore! Did you know that no woman in my family ever got below 180 again after her first pregnancy?"

"If you think I'm gassy during the day, wait till the night, that's when I really go to town."

"I feel it's only fair to tell you, I don't plan to stay faithful for more than a few months, max. I mean, there's just too many girls out there I haven't fucked yet."

"In the interests of full disclosure, I'm still seeing my old boyfriend on the side. I don't know why, but I just can't seem to resist him."

"I see you primarily as a beard. Mostly, I'll be having sex with men."

"Did you know that my two previous fiancees both ended up taking out restraining orders on me?"

"I seem to be unscathed, but just so you know, schizophrenia runs in my family."

"If I don't always seem to get the joke, it's 'cause I have Aspergers."

"I have a little problem with heroin addiction, but I think I've pretty much got it beat."

"When I was a kid, I was a little on the mischevous side. One time I doused this cat with gasoline and set it on fire. It was so funny!"

"I know you lean conservative, so it's only fair to tell you, I absolutely despise Republicans. And I'm very doctrinaire -- I'm only open to facts that support my viewpoint."

"Don't you hate people who try to save? Oh, I have so many plans for your salary!"

No, people generally don't confide these things. So, wouldn't it be better to have a team of experts screen people first?

As ridiculous as it sounds, the odds of these made-for-TV marriages succeeding are probably better than the odds for the typical random "love match."


Anonymous said...

OMG, this started my day with a laugh!

John Craig said...

Anon --
Then it served its purpose. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Having experienced craziness in my own marriage, I probably would have benefited from these different experts (back in the day when I was dating), helping me to marry just the "right one," guaranteeing that I wouldn't end up with a man with a personality disorder.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
I took a joking tone with this post but I really do think there's a lot to be said for some pre-screening. Too often we're blinded by lust and don't see what's going to cause problems down the road. The lust eventually dries up, but the problems never go away.

Anonymous said...

funny but true

certainly in my case, I married the best looking girl I ever dated, and it was at a time my career looked most promising. I overlooked some of her personality flaws due to her beauty but was fortunate we did have a lot in common and a similar ideology. but the main reason I married her was due to her looks and she was fun in bed.

while beauty does fade over time, it makes sense for men to marry the most attractive girl, as this is an indication of health and increase the odds of having healthy children

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you. And yes, beauty is generally an indication of health, you're right about that.

I think most "normal" guys marry the best-looking woman they can. And yes, looks fade, but sadly, routine makes the looks seem to fade sooner than they actually do. It's human nature -- certainly, male nature -- to want variety.