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How To Avoid Being Screwed When You Choose A Life Partner

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How To Avoid Being Screwed When You Choose A Life Partner

When you choose a life partner you would do well to consider what happened to me when I tried to replace a missing screw

It almost never fails: every time I buy one of those cheap pieces of furniture—the kind made of sawdust or some kind of glorified cardboard—there’s at least one significant piece missing. The last desk I tried to put together was missing one wood screw—but a vital one. I know, you’re supposed to check if all pieces are present before beginning the project. But what’s the difference? I’d still be short a wood screw.

So I went down to the local hardware store and proudly announced to the clerk that I only needed one wood screw to finish this fine woodworking project I’d been toiling over. But my attempt to impress him failed and he quickly countered that he only sold wood screws in packs of 500. “I’m not breaking open a bag for you. I’ll lose money,” he said with righteous indignation. Because the last thing I wanted to do was to rob a good, solid American of his chance to succeed in life, I bought the pack of 500. I did so knowing full-well that I’d never use 499 wood screws the rest of my life. Like one of those Macaw parrots, I’d probably have to put the damn screws in my will—most likely take three or four generations to use them up.

And this, my friends exemplifies marriage. You go out into the world and you choose someone to start a life with. Most of the time you pick a partner based on what you think he/she has that you’re missing. Remember the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire? “You complete me.”  In this sense, you are the unfinished desk in need of the one wood screw that will complete you. It’s actually romantic in a medieval sort of way. Problem is, once you find your beloved wood screw or soul mate, you may soon realize that instead of one wood screw you’ve become the proud owner of 499 of those suckers. For example, you might consider yourself a shy, quiet individual in need of someone more assertive as a compliment to your personality. Instead you end up with is an aggressive, even controlling person—someone you might consider a bully or an embarrassment. Gee, you only wanted one wood screw or someone who was slightly more assertive, but instead you got 499 wood screws and an individual who downright dominates you. What to do? Like most people you’d probably spend the rest of your relationship life trying to encourage your partner to better fit your fantasied image of him/her—reduce the screw count so-to-speak, but to no avail. I guess you could call it an over adjustment. Better to choose your furniture more carefully.

[Stephen Betchen]

Dr. Stephen J. Betchen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a critically acclaimed author and regular contributor to the popular Ladies’ Home Journal column, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University. For more than 25 years, Dr. Betchen has helped couples repair their relationships and reach new levels of happiness, whether they’re battling about in-laws, sex, parenting, infidelity, money, careers—or anything in between. (Case in point: He once treated folks who were at odds over the wife’s weight and the husband’s constant criticisms!) Dr. Betchen’s approach to couples therapy is refreshingly simple: He offers no gimmicks, slogans or quick fixes to nagging problems. Instead, Dr. Betchen believes that individuals change only when they discover what’s really driving their behavior—and that relationships change only when couples develop empathy for their partners and understand what really drew them together. (Turns out that physical attraction is just part of it.) Dr. Betchen provides in-depth analysis of couples’ attitudes and behavior, enabling them to see themselves and each other in a new light. And from there, he delivers real-world advice that teaches couples how to change themselves—and their relationship. Dr. Betchen is the author of numerous professional articles on relationships and makes frequent media appearances. His expert opinions often appear in national publications, including Family Circle and Men’s Health. In addition to Magnetic Partners, Dr. Betchen is the author of Intrusive Partners-Elusive Mates.

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