The secret to marriage

I’ve always believed the secret to a long and lasting marriage is knowing everything about each other before you tie the knot. Your food allergies. Your underwear size. Your middle name. Your last name.

For example, my wife knew I was a compulsive junk collector before we got married, and I knew she was a compulsive cleaner, who had a collection of vacuum cleaners as large as, if not larger than, my collection of vintage typewriters. I’ve often wondered how two people with radically different temperaments can navigate the perilous shoals of married life without a therapist or separate bedrooms. It ain’t easy.

We thought we could work through our personality differences. We were wrong. But we’re still trying. At least I think we’re still trying. Maybe we just gave up and accepted each other as we are — differences, shortcomings, strengths, body odors and all the rest.

In a story that got international attention, an Indian woman from Uttar Pradesh walked away from her groom-to-be at the wedding ceremony when she discovered he wasn’t too bright.

Instead of exchanging vows, she presented him with a math problem and asked him how much 15 plus 6 is. He answered 17. Not good. The groom’s family pleaded with her to come back, but the runaway bride refused because she said her fiancé lied about his education. Or as her father put it: “Even a first-grader can answer this.”

I have to wonder, though, what kind of wife doesn’t give her husband a second chance? After all, guys are known for messing up, especially when it comes to math. They’re also known for fibbing. Would it have made a difference, for instance, if he owned a tea plantation? Or a Starbucks franchise? Or Downton Abbey? I personally believe the two of them could have made it work, as long as she bought him a calculator and didn’t let him pay the bills.

I’m just thankful my wife never asked me if I could balance a checkbook when we were at the altar, or things would have turned out differently. I probably would have been roommates with that guy in India, and neither one of us would have been able to balance a checkbook.

According to the Associated Press, another bride in Uttar Pradesh dumped her groom-to-be after he collapsed from a seizure during the wedding. While he was being rushed to the hospital, she married one of the guests. Now that’s an enterprising bride, destined to succeed in business … or politics.

In America, we believe a person “finds” true love in the same way you find, say, a good hair stylist or a great Italian restaurant. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said about arranged marriages.

Through the miracle of modern reality TV, arranged marriages are catching on in the U.S. The only difference is they’re not arranged by two families — they’re arranged by a panel of so-called experts for the A&E show “Married at First Sight,” where six people meet at the altar and get hitched.

Do the experts use algorithms to pair off the couples? Or do they just flip coins and hedge their bets on whether the marriage will last?

Actually, who wouldn’t marry a complete stranger for a chance to be on national TV and become famous? It’s a sign of the times.

The show follows the newlyweds for six weeks as they adapt to marriage … or get divorced. It sounds like a formula that was created in Vegas. Only two of the couples from the first season were still married, which leads me to conclude the Republicans have a better success rate picking presidential candidates.

Season Two’s newcomers include a sales reps, a marketing director and a real estate agent, so there’s going to be a lot of intense “selling” taking place. The characteristics they’re looking for in a spouse include ambition, humor, honesty, confidence, a work ethic, affection, intelligence, and family values. (No one mentioned “common sense.”) Even that woman in India wasn’t as demanding. She only wanted her husband to solve a simple math problem.

My personal theory, which you won’t hear on A&E, is that love grows deeper, more profound, more spiritual after you’ve sacrificed with a person and for a person — even if they can’t add.

Contact Joe Pisani at joefpisani [at] yahoo.com.

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