Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Good Advice

On the topic of marriage, someone told me that the best advice he'd gotten was to take a prospective partner camping for two weeks. He didn't heed it, and he's still paying for it.

Just think, it you go camping together, you get to see the following.

-Can s/he tolerate inconvenience, or is s/he a pampered brat?
-Can you act as a team?
-Is s/he whiny and complaining?
-Can s/he improvise with few resources?
-Will s/he lose her temper when you spend too much time together?
-Can s/he rough it with a smile?
-Will s/he blame the nearest person (you) when things go wrong?
-Can you still stand each other at the end of the two weeks?

This method doesn't necessarily work in reverse. I've had great camping experiences with two different men. My reaction to the tent collapsing during a huge storm was to laugh and enjoy it. But no one dragged me to the altar. This is not so bad, because I'm not big on marriage and tradition, but I do feel a little cheated that all good camping ever brought me was two trips to the altar... as Best Man.


Ed Ward said...

I've been thinking about this one ever since you posted it, and I've decided it's good as far as it goes, but needs a bit of widening.

My own criterion isn't camping, but, rather, travelling. Preferably somewhere where one of the two is a foreigner and the other isn't.

The basic test is whether you can operate as a team as well as individuals in the presence of one another, which is, indeed, a fine criterion for a partnership. I can think of one woman I didn't talk to for two years after our trip, and a guy I was thinking of going into business with (this doesn't just apply to romance, after all) and decided after four days that it wasn't gonna happen.

On the other hand, there was a woman (one on the "shoulda married her" list) who stayed with me here for a week, on the understanding that after that we'd rent a car and drive through France. It was a fantastic visit, and a fantastic trip, and what I admired her most for was the day, when the trip through France was almost over and we were in the hotel, when she asked "Hey, could you do me a favor?" "Sure, what?" "Could you disappear for about two hours? You're beginning to get on my nerves." So I spent a couple of hours walking around Bourges, not a horrible thing to do, even though the weather sucked. When I got back, we were just fine. Sad to say, though, she was already married at that point, but the forthrightness is worth noting.

I'd like to meet the woman who could get me to go camping for one night, let alone two weeks, though. There's a reason we've been endowed with the ability to conceptualize, build, run, and stay in hotels. If she could do it, she'd be a doozy. Or I'd be besotted beyond anything I've yet experienced.

Anonymous said...

Here here! I agree with Ed.
the camping / traveling "litmus" test is a good test.
I completely concur. I asked my hubby to travel with me to visit a girlfriend who'd just had a baby when we were first going out. I was shocked when he said "sure!" & even more shocked when he actually got on the plane to South Carolina with me and we actually had a great time. Just traveling with someone (via plane,train, auto)is really a great test of one's/both's ability to be flexible, creative, roll with the ups and downs and indiosyncracies of life, etc. etc. etc. and if you can get thru traveling without killing each other (and better yet being forthright enuf to ask for a break when ones nerves are frayed - being given space and no one's feelings got hurt in the meanwhile)-- then the rest of life is surely to be a cakewalk - or at least u know you can work it out together.
So 3 cheers for the traveling/camping test for friends, business partners and partners of life.

Ed Ward said...

And I remembered something tangential here. In the early 19th century, Napoleon's troops occupied Berlin. Naturally, being French soldiers, they were eyeing the German girls, and would say to them "Venez a ma tente!" ("Come to my tent!")

Somehow this morphed into a German expression, using German words, which I don't remember at the moment, but which sounded like it yet made no sense in terms of the actual words. But the meaning was "Don't do something foolish."

I shall remember this if some woman ever asks me to come to her tent.