In seminary they tried to scare us into dating carefully by telling us stories about girls who dated Dr. Jekyll and woke up the morning after to Mr. Hyde. I believe men have their own versions of these timeless bedtime stories.
While I’m sure this does occasionally happen—for there must be utterly messed up and even psychopathic people out there (quite a lot of psychopaths, if one believes all the divorcees who have assured me they were married to one)—I think those unexpected body-snatching marriages end pretty quickly. But when it comes to wonky marriages that last, I suspect something different is going on. After years of watching my friends pair off and be married, I am prepared to advance the following hypothesis: I think people pick people who allow them to perpetuate their neuroses.
This is how the friend with the habit of always making her life more complicated than it needed to be wound up with the OCD guy. The friend who was afraid of her own strength and ambition married the guy who nixed it. And the friend who was always pretty sure the world was out to get her married a guy who apparently is.
While my hypothesis is most obvious in poor to fair marriages, I believe, with further study, that it can be extended into the healthier range as well. Just because they’re happy doesn’t mean they’re not neurotic.
But therein, methinks, lies my problem. If marriage is about choosing another nut-job who complements or aggravates your nuttiness, what do you do if you’re not nutty? Yes, I’m saying it out loud:
I’m just too well-adjusted.
Go ahead, guffaw. But even my therapist said so.
Seriously, though. Maybe I’m not quite normal, but who is? And maybe my neuroses can’t be complemented by a partner. Indeed—perhaps they require being single. In that case, I’m as happily married as any of you out there. My neuroses are happy, healthy, and fostered by my lack of partnership.
At least I didn’t need a wig and three kids to accomplish that.