Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking for Love (that lasts)

A lot of people are looking for love. Not only are most people looking for love (unless they’ve found it), most people want that love to be lifelong, with one person, in marriage. Of course, just wanting something to happen doesn’t make it happen. While it’s easy these days to slide into any old relationship, finding that one that will last takes some work.

Increasingly, I and others who focus on marriage and relationships have turned attention to who people pick in the first place, not just how well things go after they pick. So, how do you pick well? How can a person up their chances of finding lasting love? In my book on commitment, The Power of Commitment, I wrote a little section called “Mate Selection 101.” It’s short and basic but the ideas are powerful. If you are looking for love—love that lasts—here are some ideas for you to consider from my book.

[The Excerpt]

Mate Selection 101

Surprisingly, marriage scholars and researchers have not devoted a great deal of attention over the past decades to good mate selection. Sociologist Norval Glenn at the University of Texas has noted that this is a serious gap in the field, and I think he is right. There are surely useful studies in this area, but people have not been given enough guidance about how to make a good choice.

I will close this chapter by presenting a very simple list based on many years of research, many years of counseling couples, and reading and thinking about this issue. The more of these things you are able to do when you are searching for a mate and thinking about marriage, the better your odds will be of making a wise choice.

* Get to know the person very well before deciding to marry. One thing you can do is take the time to work together through a detailed list of core expectations to see just how compatible you are. (For guidelines on how to do this, you might check out one of the books I've co-authored.)

* Do not make this crucial decision in a period of emotional infatuation.

* Date the person for a long time.

* Observe how the person treats not only you but his or her friends. Learn as much as you can about the person's priorities and values.

* Give more weight than your heart may want to how closely the person shares your most essential beliefs (including religious) and values in life.

* Wait until you are 22 or older to make such an important decision. What you think you are looking for can change a lot.

* Get the opinion of friends and family who are not likely to tell you only what you want to hear.

* Wait until you are married to live together. It may not increase your risk to do otherwise, but there is no evidence that it will increase your risk to wait.

I offer no guarantees but these ideas just might help.