You Will Marry the Wrong Person. Statistics Tells You Why.

published5 months ago
4 min read

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Once upon a time, I met the person I’d been asking the universe for. We even met in the exact way I would have wanted to.

I was on a solo rock-climbing road trip and through a series of fateful and unlikely events, we happened to be the only two people staying on a remote farm.

The first evening we met, we had a deep conversation late into the night. From that moment on, we were joined at the hip. We had a roaring adventure - climbing, making love, and road-tripping our way through the country. We poured our souls out and helped each other through tough times. By the end of that road trip, I had committed to moving to his state.

It seemed like the perfect fairy tale. And yet, it wasn’t.

There wasn’t a single moment where I was emotionally secure but there were many moments where I felt deeply lonely.

It was confusing. Wasn’t this exactly what I wanted?

I realized now that I had told the universe what I wanted to do in a relationship but not how I wanted to feel.

Outwardly — we had the same lifestyle goals, the same passions, and the same interests. Inwardly — we communicated feelings differently, resolved conflicts in polar opposite ways, and had mindsets that didn’t align.

We broke up.

When asked, I couldn’t quite express what was wrong, but I knew that nothing felt quite right.

After that relationship, I met someone who was the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted. At least on paper. We didn’t have the same lifestyle goals, we didn’t have sparkling chemistry the first day, and we were on vastly different paths in life.

And yet today, years later, each and every moment spent with him is pure bliss. I have never felt so truly seen and adored for who I am. Though we were on vastly different trajectories in life when we met, we somehow seemed to have co-created a perfectly aligned reality today.

How did I get it so wrong?

Mind you, I’m not some naive girl. I’ve dated my way across the globe and read dozens of books on relationships. I’ve asked old couples, experts, and anyone who seemed like they may have a clue for the secrets to love.

But my level of happiness and the longevity of my relationship was not at all what I could have expected when I chose either relationship.

Of course, I’m not alone in being extremely bad at predicting how a relationship will work out. The US Census Bureau reports that 40% of first marriages end in divorce, another estimated 18% will separate, and almost everyone else experiences a steady decline in marital happiness (even the ones that stay married).

So, the real question is — Why do we all get it so wrong?

Why We Get It So Wrong

In my day job, we tend to forecast the likelihood of success on a project by assessing how well we have mitigated the most common risks. I realized that I had never once done this with relationships.

Yet, not only is marriage (or life partnership) one of the most important decisions of our lives, but a study also found that divorce actually substantially increases our risk of death. It’s literally a life-or-death decision!

So, I decided to dig into the statistics of relationships (specifically marriage) to find the most common reasons marriages fall apart so I could start mitigating it. Here’s what I found:

1. We base our choices on “peak” moments instead of “mundane” ones

If we were to take current statistics into consideration, the most realistic wedding vow would likely be, “I promise to stay married to you even if you gained 30 pounds, never changed any of the habits that annoy me today, only talked about our children, and we only had sex twice a year.”

Because statistically, marriages rarely fail because of a single catastrophic event. They fail over time and one of the major reasons is lack of commitment. It’s when one or both people decide to stop trying.

But no one would ever use those vows even though there is no lacking of evidence that this is very likely your reality in 10 years. Instead, we picture our lives with who that person is today because that’s as far as the Hollywood script goes.

But here’s what we don’t get reminded of — the real key to any relationship working isn’t romance, sexual chemistry, trust, or even communication.

It’s work.

It’s taking time to intimately connect with your partner even though you are hopelessly sleep-deprived and covered in baby food. It’s being patient even though you’ve had the same conversation a million times about your partner’s unrealistic anxiety. It’s staying curious about your partner’s future desires even though you’re drowning in chores.

So, every wedding vow should also really end with, “I promise to show up and put the work into our relationship for the rest of my life even when I really, really don’t feel like it.”

If you or your partner can’t commit to that, you probably shouldn’t get married. As Marilyn Monroe famously said,

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

What you can do:

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If you are interested in reading more about the other pitfalls of marriage and what you can do about it, click on the button below to read the full article I wrote. If you are about to embark on a new relationship or are about to tie the knot, have no fear, statistics also gives you clear clues on how you can avoid marrying the wrong person. If you've been married and divorced, I'd be interested to know if this piece resonated with you. Please feel free to respond back to this email and share your personal journey.

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May Pang 💖

Your future friend. I write to help you create deeper connections with yourself and others. Storytelling + Hard Science + Actionable Steps + Humor. Often with a dose of rebellious personal growth. Join 22k+ people on this fun ride. I don't always know where I'll take you, but I promise you it'll always be fun!

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