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A Partner Who Suffers Well

November 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

A partner who suffers well.

I chanced upon this article entitled, “The Most Overlooked Characteristic of Who You Want to Marry“, and was immediately intrigued.

After all, most articles of this nature tend to extol the usual characteristics one might want to look for in our other-half, such as intelligence, kindness, charming, etc. To therefore claim that the most overlooked characteristic of a person you wish to share your life with is the ability to suffer well is thus both stunning (at first) and brilliant (a second later). Such a view may, at first glance, appear to be pessimistic – after all, looking for a person who suffers well may bring to mind the unintended thought that the harmonious, entwined life ahead will be less picturesque and perfect than our envisioned ideals. A more alarmist take on this matter might even draw parallels with pre-nuptial agreements and claim that such a view will only trigger a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, I find it a great suggestion.

I have observed that as I grow older and go through trying periods of life, my perspective on the ideal romantic girl has been changing and evolving as well. In fact, through a cursory excavation of the past and a quick examination of the archaelogy of my love-ideology, it is clear that the extremely idealistic notions I bore in secondary school have since experienced a tectonic shift – in its place is now a form of pragmatic idealism, a somewhat middle ground situated in the spectrum between pragmatic love and idealistic love. It is thus unsurprising that I am in entire agreement with the article, and it also reminded me of another article in similar vein called “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong Person“. Here’s a summary:

  • We don’t know ourselves well enough – specifically we don’t know our neuroses well enough. Most ideal partnerships don’t come from two healthy individuals (rare), but rather they come from two demented people who though luck or skill are able to come to a comfortable and non-threatening accommodation between their relative insanities.
  • We don’t know our significant other well enough. Our brains are primed to construct entire personalities from very few – but hugely evocative – details. A romanticized and idealized mental image that largely fills up our gaps of knowledge with positive, halo-effected traits.
  • Societal trend shifting from marriage of reason (traditional) to marriage of instinct (present-day). Feelings trump reason. Author suggests new paradigm of marriage of psychology, where these feelings are brought under microscopic examination and under the aegis of a matured awareness of each other’s psychology.
  • New set of criteria: how are you mad / how can one raise a child together /  how can couple grow and develop together / how can couple remain as friends
  • Rigid perception that marriage – as opposed to being in a relationship – dilutes happiness. Author raises example of impressionistic art which looks at moments of transient happiness through lens of appreciation and attention. Import this perspective to marriage. Don’t look for the fiction of permanent happiness – simply attend to and appreciate the reality of fleeting joy.

On a tangential note, loving well is an acquired skill – one does not immediately turn into the perfect boyfriend or husband upon entering a relationship or marriage. These occurrences in life do not entrust us with hidden competences that surface upon experiencing these trigger events – rather, I find it better to conceptualise as being entrusted with a gift that we must always remember to cherish.

To find a partner who suffers well,
One should first learn how to suffer well.

Ah, what tangled thoughts.

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