This weeks column is designed to help three types of readers: people choosing mates, parents who want to advise children about choosing mates, and single people who may have already chosen a mate but should change their minds. Others, such as those of you for whom this column is too late and those who are happy with their mates will find yourselves nodding "Amen" to my accurate and witty remarks, so, please read on.
On the occasion of my mother in law's birthday dinner, I was reminded of a kernel of wisdom I had picked up as a teenager. I was an eleventh grade student and my class was into one of those "rapp sessions" that happen occasionally on Friday afternoons in classrooms all across America. The topic of the discussion was girlfriends: who had the prettiest, finest, sweetest, best dressed, etc. This session stuck in my mind because, after we had bragged and teased one another for a while, the teacher threw in a comment that made us pause to consider our girlfriends differently.
The man said, "You fellows better look at that girl's mother, because in twenty years, that's what you will have." Evidently, some of the fellows didn't like the mothers of their girlfriends because they began to argue with the teacher. Its amazing how, even as a "young buck", the Love Doctor had the ability to know wisdom when it presented itself. For, unlike many of my classmates, I took his advice to heart.
As a result, when I chose my Boo, I considered whether or not I could get along with a person like her mother. Boo's mother passed the test. I liked her attitude toward spending money and having fun. I approved of the way she raised her children and she was honest and loving toward her husband. I also noticed that she didn't like to cook and was hard headed. If Boo's mom wants to do something, eventually, she will.
Now that Boo and I have been married for twenty years, believe me, everything I wrote in the last paragraph about her mom, I could write or say about Boo today. Those two like the same kinds of shoes, clothes, food and furniture. Another person put it this way, "Fruit doesn't fall too far from the tree."
Children have a section of brain which I call the "When I Get BIG" recorder. The WIGB recorder runs whenever the child is with an older person it trust or depends upon. The WIGB recorder captures words, habits and attitudes.
As we "grow up" we adopt the attitudes of these trusted adults and for most of us, these were the people who raised us, our parents or older siblings. If you observe young children playing "house" you can actually see and hear them playing back their WIGB recorders. If you observe your own children without them knowing you might become they may embarrass you by repeating everything you tell them when you are upset, including language that I refuse to put into print.
Next time you have an opportunity, observe a mother with a small child. The first time the child sees or hears something new, notice that before the child reacts, it will look at its mother's face for a clue. If it sees fear the child will be afraid of the new thing from then on. If it sees a smile, the child will smile at and accept the new thing as something good.
Now that you understand how you became the way that you are, let me explain why it works that way. Consider those situations in life that are impossible to learn about before they happen, such as falling in love, being married or raising a child. God gave us our "When I Get Big" recorders so that we would have "trusted" words and attitudes to get us through things we had never experienced before for ourselves. Think about it, you never actually decided what you like and dislike, you just like or dislike. If your child walks toward the electrical outlet with a hair pin or paper clip, you won't have to think about what to do or say, you will reacted the way your mother did and save the child's life..
How many of you swore that you would not treat your children the way your parents treated you, only to find yourselves doing the exact same things to your own children, sometimes using the exact same words and tone of voice as one of your parents. .
My point is simple: you can be reasonably sure that your intended will end up acting like a parent or other closely related role model, even when he or she says they don't want to be like that person. Be extremely careful if your intended has an abusive, alcoholic, lazy, or untrustworthy parent, you may find yourself living in misery with a similar personality a few years down the road.
There are other situations which cause people to be risky as mates: spoiled children (watch out for the "baby" in the family) and only children. Both types will have difficulty with the compromises that married life requires of everyone. You should also be careful of potential mates who grew up in single homes where the parent was openly hostile towards the opposite sex, especially if you are that opposite sex.
Living with another person requires constant negotiation and compromise. Any person who refuses to do either is not a suitable mate. Some people believe that "there is someone for everyone", but the Love Doctor is not so naive. There are people who are incapable of being good mates. Anyone who attaches themselves to one of these will suffer. The only hope for others is if they are willing to learn new attitudes in therapy or counselling. However, their first step must be an admission that their present attitudes stink. (The first step in solving any problem is to admit that there is one.)