Marriage Is Not A Crutch
Partners Are Not Cripples
The famous line, “you complete me,” was said by Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire) to Renée Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd) in the movie Jerry Maguire. The line stands out as one of the more memorable moments in a movie full of great philosophical content and unforgettable quotes.
It’s an idea we all get. It encapsulates a universal fact: no person stands alone. Anything you can do as one is made better by the addition of a soul mate – a person you admire, respect, love and are comfortable to partner with. Someone who completes you.
We usually refer to this second person as “better-HALF” because without them, as Tom said, we aren’t whole. The two reflect well on each other and when they find each other they embrace.
But there is a caveat. The value of what they are together is increased or decreased by what they are as individuals.
Let me explain.
Marriage Is Multiplication Not Addition But . . .
When two people marry, the outcome of their partnership – what they can accomplish together – is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s multiplication not addition. We understand that.
What we don’t readily see is that the outcome is still based on the value of each part. The Bride’s or Groom’s individual value doesn’t change at the wedding. A person can only add what they are to the marriage. Saying “I do” will not magically smelt gold ore into gold ingots.
What that means is this. Marrying too early, before personal development occurs, reduces the potential outcome.
Let’s put it in mathematical terms. If the groom has developed to the value of 4 and the bride to the value of 5 and marriage is multiplication, one multiplies the value of the other, the product is 20. They’ve combined their efforts and increased the output but their individual values haven’t changed.
Warning: If a person develops little before the wedding it is likely not to happen after. In that case married partners become crutches and non-developing mates lean and lounge.
So, to say it again. What a couple is as a pair is determined by what each one is as an individual. A few observations:
Don’t Marry Up Or Down
In most cases people marry what they are. Fours marry fours but not always. Every Wart would marry a Beaut if they could but the Beauts are usually surrounded by too many Hunks to notice. The academically qualified don’t socialize in the same circles as high school dropouts.
But be careful. A four may occasionally charm their way into the heart of a ten, thinking that marrying up will improve their value as a person but that is a recipe for failure. It won’t take long for the insecurities to surface, disappointments to develop and incompatibilities to take root.
Get An Education
The big question is “What increases an individual’s value?” and there are many possible factors. Latent ability is an important consideration and that leads to the next question.
And this question has two parts: “How does one identify their latent talents” and once identified “What is the best way to develop it?” Every parent and child should ask and answer these questions.
One short answer is “Get an education.” Finish high school first and then study some more. Why?
- Because education exposes you to many subjects, topics and experiences. Through the process you discover what your interests are: biology, mechanics, sports, literature, and that enables you to navigate toward self-realization.
- Because education enables you to develop discipline. Enduring the topics you don’t enjoy helps develop an “I can” mentality. The more you hate math the greater the sense of achievement when you pass Algebra.
- Because education helps develop many life skills: reading, thinking, writing, reasoning, dialoguing, scheduling, producing, creating, collaborating and on and on and on. These skills enable you to use your talents better.
Not only does education and skill development make you a more valuable partner, research indicates it can also strengthen your commitment to marriage.
Findings from a Barna study indicated that people with no college degree (downscale) experienced a divorce rate of 39% while the rate was only 22% for those with a four year degree (upscale). The rate was only 20% for Asians, a group known to prize higher education.
So, if you want to be a contributor to a solid marriage get a good education.