peer advice, support, inspiration
The online dating site eHarmony.com has over 15 million subscribers. That statistic alone tells us that marriage and courtship have changed tremendously in the last 25 years (“matching” is beginning to be normal!). Before he developed eHarmony.com, Dr. Neil Clark Warren was a marriage counselor and wrote several successful books on the subject. He was particularly intrigued by the mate selection process and wrote about it in Finding the love of your life. This book, along with his other works,was so successful that he developed a website to help people find their soul mates. Since then, the online dating scene has exploded.
It all started with a carload of psychologists driving on Highway 5 in Southern California. Dr. Warren and his colleagues came to the checkpoint where border patrol attempts to spot cars harboring illegal aliens being transported across the border. Traffic slowed to a crawl as thousands complied with the inspection. A uniformed agent carefully scanned each car and waved most of the cars through; he only occasionally stopped a car. After being waived on, Dr. Warren and his colleagues discussed what an immigration enforcement officer looks for when he scans the cars. What clues does he see? What raises his suspicions? How could he tell so quickly if there was a problem?
As a result, Dr.Warren wondered if there was a way to similarly identify red flags in relationships; he eventually developed criteria that would alert him to potential issues between couples. His method is not infallible (just as the Border Patrol is not 100% successful) or fool-proof, but it has proved to be a useful tool in countless therapy sessions.
We are painfully incapable of finding a life partner, which is illustrated by the statistics on family breakups. Fifty percent of marriages fail. The odds of failure increase if the partners are teenagers. They increase again if either of them witnessed a bad marriage growing up. If either partner has been previously divorced then the odds soar higher. And if either of them have had multiple sexual partners before marriage or if they abuse alcohol or drugs then the odds go through the roof.
Warren identifies seven criteria that contribute to mismatched marriage partners.
1. The decision to get married too quickly
2. The decision to get married too young
3. One or both partners are too eager to be married
4. Marrying to please someone
5. The experience base is too narrow (They don’t know each other well enough)
6. Couples have unrealistic or uncommunicated expectations
7. Un-addressed behavior or personality problems
Thanks for reading this week’s blog post by Rev. Kevin Thompson. This is part I of II so check back soon to find out the single most important factor that determines success in marriage, and hear Rev. Thompson’s advice on the subject. For now, you can think about how knowing Dr. Warren’s seven criteria for mismatched marriages can help you in your matching adventure.