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Dear Jon's Principles for a Successful Marriage

by Dear Jon
February 8, 2001

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Twenty-Second Sort_Dear Jon-Dear Jon's Principles for a Successful Marriage ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON

Dear Jon,
I am engaged and will be getting my graduate degree just before we get married. I have been receiving invitations to consider job offers in the field in which I have studied. My current part-time employer is also offering me a full-time position upon graduation. My fiancee is in her first year of her profession, but is open to moving if the need should arise. Some of the places we are considering are either much more rural than our current location or far away from family. Do you have any advice that might help inform our decision?

Sincerely,
Couple at a Crossroad


Dear Couple,

I know someone in similar circumstances to yours. To them I would say, You need to stay where you are at. You would be crazy to move. If you are them, and you have figured out the true identity of "Dear Jon," you MUST stop reading NOW.

As an advice columnist, I cannot leave it there. If you are still in a graduate quarter or semester, there is still plenty of time for the offer at your part-time job to fall through. Or perhaps when you match up the details, the offer from "home" cannot come close to matching offers you get elsewhere. If your fiancee is in a transferrable profession, that is good. Your fiancee should look at earnings and openings in her profession in those other locations.

The way I see it is, you ought to follow your heart first, and if your heart is confused or ambivalent, follow the money. If the money is the same, why
move? But money can take you in some pretty surprising directions, directions that will deepen your understanding of yourself, broaden your
experience, and bring color to your perspective. Sometimes we have to follow the money first before we can figure out our hearts, because our hearts still need to be shaped by experience.

I think this is especially true when marriages are new, and you are thinking about children and about setting goals for buying a car and saving for a home, and possibly repaying student loans. This might not be the right time to try to cling to that which is now past, that which is pre-marriage. The pressures of monthly bills and long-term goals together become a crucible for change.

This is the wisdom of most parents, probably. They want new couples to start out well, because they know how stressful the pressure of the checkbook balance can be on a marriage.

This letter has inspired me to create another list:

Dear Jon's Principles for a Successful Marriage
  1. Men are from "Mars." Women are from "Venus." Avoid anyone who claims to
    be from "Vega."

  2. Never listen so hard that you can't hear.

  3. Money matters. Seek help in developing a budget, and communicate with each other about what equals comfortable spending levels. Consult each other on any expenditure over $20.00. Possible exceptions are Christmas, birthday, and Valentine's Day gifts. Also, pay your bills and balance your checkbook together; don't just assign one person to do it all. This actually can be quality time that is shared.

  4. Sex matters. Buy a book. He will want one with pictures. She won't. A good compromise is a book with a few pencil sketches.

  5. Call your mother.

  6. Do not let your mother ever over-rule your spouse in anything.

  7. A man who cannot admit he is wrong is going to create a terrible marriage. Don't marry him if he has not apologized to you yet.

  8. A woman who cannot admire her husband is going to create a terrible marriage. Don't marry him if you don't admire him.

  9. If you are not of the same faith, you have a lot you need to talk about before you get married.

  10. It is impossible to tell your spouse "I love you" too often. Unless it is an annoying string of muttered "I love you I love you I love you I love you" for several minutes without pause.

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