It makes you think the cultures where the parents choose the kids’ spouses really have something to be said for them. You can at least give your boys some clues: Favorite book The Bell Jar? Out. Ambition is to be a poet/novelist/performance artist/other vague art-thing? Out. Weird friends? Out. One could go on. Somebody told me of a group of brothers who entered a pact that any one of them could veto the wife-choice of any other. Someone was in fact vetoed to the later gratitude of the intended victim. Not a bad idea. Sometimes the kindest, best, most useful six words one man can say to another, whether brother, father, friend or wharever are, she’s crazy, get rid of her.
I can think of two girls where those words would have helped me had I listened. One ended fine, the other caused me much pain.
The mutual veto pact is an excellent idea. After all, if the people who’ve spent their whole lives loving and caring for you and wanting the nest for you hate your intended mate, there’s probably a reason. I can think of a few people who would have been saved pain and anguish had I been able to veto their obviously inappropriate romantic choices. (At the same time, even this guideline can be imperfect: A cousin of mine recently was crushed by her husband who everyone in the family loved and thought was perfect for her.)
A few other rules I would suggest based off what I’ve seen and what I’ve been through:
1) If you ever defend your partner with the phase “you just don’t know [him/her] the way I do,” you should end the relationship.
2) If they’re bipolar, run.
3) If you’ve ever gone a few weeks without seeing them and didn’t miss them, accept that it’s already over.
4) If they think you should see other people, they already are.
5) If your friends think he’s using you as a beard, he probably is.
Hat Tip: Chicago Boyz