I love my family for many reasons, mainly because we speak to each other with total, and impartial honesty. Without being known for our soft words, things are often said in abrupt and direct ways, but they are always wise and true
When my grandfather was preparing my mother for her entrance into the world of long-term relationships, he gave her some very blunt advice:
“Don’t marry someone dumber than you”
This kernel of wisdom was spoken somewhere in the early 70’s amongst the influence of disco, women’s progression in the work force, and the last shreds of what was still an old fashioned America. Since my mother was very smart, but somehow didn’t manage to avoid getting an afro in the 70’s, my grandfather was telling her not to marry someone that lacked the intelligence to navigate life’s challenges with the aptitude, wisdom, and emotional depth that would be necessary to be a compatible, life-long match for her
We didn’t have a formal ceremony or anything, but when I was young, my mom passed this advice down to me once I was at a dating age
Overall, these are pretty simple instructions, but it is also kind of contradictory to the criteria people often choose their partners by–especially hormone addled teenagers and young adults
Most parents, friends, inner inclinations, etc… say to look for physical attraction, money, friendship, sense of humor, social status or many other types of characteristics and circumstances. My grandfather knew that if someone was intelligent, that all those things would fall into place over time, for example:
- Looks fade no matter what, why marry someone for their appearance when you won’t be able to stand their personality
- Smart people always find a way to make money
- Friendship is best cultivated by two people who have the ability to understand one another; the more complex and deep the person, the more complex and deep their partner has to be
- Humor that is not understood by one’s partner is painful at best, a matching intellect is important for processing jokes on the fly
- Social status is pretty insignificant when it comes to loving or being loved, people who care about that were not good matches for my mom anyways
Also, as healthy human beings progress through life, they often grow and evolve
If they grow, but lack a partner who can grow with them, or just understand and adapt to the growth as it happens, problems can come up in the relationship as the couple will inevitably drift apart
This space will grow over time, and often cause a decline in the relationship since the couple will eventually not know or understand each other well enough to be emotionally, physically or intellectually intimate in ways that are deeply fulfilling
Anyways, since this was such great advice, you must be wondering how well it served me throughout my life right?
NEWS FLASH, THIS JUST IN
I pretty much ignored this guidance because I thought I knew better.
During my dating career, I did not follow my grandfather’s advice very well as I often selected partners based on looks, a sense of humor or physical chemistry. I cared about a friendship quite a bit, but that wasn’t the leading characteristic I looked for. In fact, I often dated people that were horrible to me, but I put up with bad treatment in exchange for the “fun” parts of the relationship
Because having a passionate physical relationship makes up for all the screaming and yelling done at 2am on a regular basis right?
Oddly enough, and I am sure you are as shocked as I am, none of those relationships worked out
After some life experience, I feel that my grandfather was very accurate, but I have an amendment to his statement that I think is really important
You see, one thing about my family is that we are very logical. So much so, that there often wasn’t a lot of rich emotional content or intimacy through the generations between my great grandparents up until my mother’s generation. Generally speaking, my family is not that emotional at all really, it’s kind of weird, but somehow my mom broke the mold and came out okay. So, when my grandfather gave this advice to my mother, he did not emphasize the importance of being emotionally compatible with one’s partner
As a contemporary dating casualty, I have seen that intellect is important, but it is equally as important to make sure one’s partner is on the same emotional level
Having spoken with a variety of people, I feel that humans have an intellectual IQ, and an emotional IQ (EIQ). Coincidentally, in my experiences, and no offense to all you smart people out there, the people with the highest IQs often have the lowest EIQs. I am still trying to figure out why this is, but that’s a separate topic
In relationships, some amount of imbalance between a couple’s IQ and EIQ can be compensated for, but if the differences are too drastic, no matter how intense and wonderful it seems at the start, the relationship just won’t work. All the pheromone charged, pulse raising interactions in the world can’t sustain a relationship permanently when there is not a solid foundation of multi-faceted compatibility
The main reasons why differences in a couple’s IQ and EIQ can cause relationship problems are because the people will not understand each other on enough levels to have good communication or to empathize with each other well enough to have continuous intimacy throughout the relationship because they grow apart
I am sure everyone, even guys, have heard or said the statement:
“My partner is emotionally unavailable”
When evaluating a partner, reviewing their ability to share and respond to emotions is really important. A lot of times this is not what people look for first when dating as it is so easy to look at all the shiny, fun things someone has to offer. But, if one is looking for a long-term, intimate relationship, then intellectual and emotional capacity are more important than anything else
Just remember, that once the stunning good looks, the skin tingling excitement, and the beguiling charm lose their luster, and believe me they will, it is best to be with someone you can connect with or you will find yourself very alone even if you are sharing a home with a spouse–how can we love someone we don’t know?
Also, it is just straight up selfish to be with someone for particular qualities but not love them all the way through. Eventually, you will be unhappy with them, and they will be unhappy too. Just make sure you really love someone before marrying them, spend the time to really know it is the right decision before staring someone in the eye and telling them you will be with them for as long as you live–make this statement mean something when you say it
So, after all that, my amendment to my grandfather’s statement is:
“Don’t marry someone intellectually or emotionally dumber than you”
WOWSERS!!! Good stuff.
Thank you, someone very close to my heart told me these things. Although she won’t give me an actual photo of her with an afro because “she can’t find it.” Mmm hmm…
I kind’a had to do a double take at the title of the article. Aren’t christians supposed to love everybody, even the intellectually challenged? But then it occurred to me that my mom also shared this advice with me during my late teens. Don’t marry someone who isn’t compatible, and by that she meant on all levels – spiritual, financial, intellectual, physical, etc.
At the time I assumed that she was talking in terms of “social class”, but perhaps it was something deeper. I have interpreted her motherly pearls of wisdom to mean, it is not beneficial to mingle with someone who will not enhance your life on multiple levels. If you are with a partner who diminishes you on any level, it is better to be alone. For as they say, “I can do bad all by myself.”
I say all this to say, yes, christians are supposed to love everybody, but it is not wise to marry just anybody.
P.S. Thank you so much for this blog! I love the honesty as well as the wealth of spiritual/biblical references. I feel so overjoyed to be able to have a voice to be real, and still be christian, without being criticized or judged. May God bless your blog and continue to use you to minister to others.
Hi! Thank you for the note and the encouragement. Christianity should feel real at all times, we have nothing to hide from each other and we aren’t cookie cutter robots either. You know, I definitely thought twice before I posted this article, I am glad you enjoyed it. I totally agree that we should love everyone, but be exceptionally careful who we marry. No other relationship in our life has more power to help or hinder our relationship with God than the partnership we forge with a spouse; many are called, but few are chosen.
My fiance and I were arguing about this! Now I know that I was right. lol! Thanks for making me sure!
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