... it doesn't matter if we find we have married the wrong person.
We mustn't abandon him or her, only the Romantic founding idea upon which the Western idea of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can satisfy all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.
... It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our Romantic culture places on marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.
The person who is best suited to us, says de Botton, is "the person who can negotiate differences intelligently."
In a nutshell, the key to long-term contentment is to lower your expectations. By quite a lot. This reduces your outrage when your beloved does not live up to your ideal. And it reduces your sense of entitlement to be a perpetual object of adoration. You also learn to keep your mouth shut and/or say I'm sorry. And mean it.
I shared it with The Boy, whose road to the altar seems fraught with doubts and drama.
De Botton is a breath of fresh air, if you ask me. And seems like a good meditation for Lent as we try to become more generous people.
Any of our pre-Cana folks want to weigh in?
--Jean Hughes Raber