deciding on a path through life

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:17 pm

deciding on a path through life

Postby MikeLaughton » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:31 pm

Purpose of this blog:
To air out all of my thoughts about law school (and life in general). My hope is that I'll be able to make a better decision about what path through life I should take. I'm creating this blog here because I think there are a lot of very intelligent people on this forum and I'd like to have the benefit of their input.

Method of this blog:
- posting random thoughts in here as they come to me
- gradually organizing random thoughts into categories
- asking people to give me their opinion on things i post

First post:

Questions to answer:
- Why am I considering law school?
- What path/career is most likely to make me happy?
- Would I be more happy with a wife (long-term partner)? Or should I aspire to be a life-long bachelor?
- Assuming I decide that having a wife or partner is desirable, what should I look for in such a partner?
- Would I be more happy with children?
- Is living in a particular area (rural, suburban, urban) more likely to result in my long-term happiness?
- Will choosing a particular career force me to remain in one type of living environment? (rural, etc.)
Last edited by MikeLaughton on Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:17 pm

Re: deciding on a path through life

Postby MikeLaughton » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:46 pm

I've posted some unfiltered thoughts from today below. As always, if anyone reading this has a comment, correction, or recommendation for further reading, please let me know via PM and I'll include it here (with credit) if I find it useful.

The question that I seem to be attempting to answer below is:
"Assuming I decide that having a wife or partner is desirable, what should I look for in such a partner?"

  • If you were going to invest in a particular mutual fund you'd want to make sure you had a diversified portfolio; by making sure that there were several somewhat independent sources of return, you could have one or two of those sources take a hit and not be in a horrible situation.
  • Marriage may work in a similar way. "Marriage: A History" mentions many reasons people pair up:
    - to have children
    - physical attraction
    - money
    - social expectation (this includes a wide variety of situations)
    - to not feel lonely / for emotional support
    - political reasons (Cleopatra, etc.)
  • If you paired up with someone for only one reason, and that reason for remaining together ceased to exist at some point down the road, you could end up very unhappy. Examples:
    - You decide to get married solely in order to have children, and you find out your spouse is infertile.
    - You marry someone you are very physically attracted to, 20 years pass, and you no longer find that person attractive.
    - You marry someone for the financial security they can offer, and then that person loses everything.
    - You're gay but marry someone of the opposite sex because society expects it, and then you move to NYC or another country and are no longer affected by your old social environment.
    - You pair up with someone to not feel lonely and/or for emotional support, and then that person falls into a deep depression and/or substance abuse problem and acts as more of a drain on you than a benefit.
    - You marry someone for political advantage, and then that person becomes a political liability.
  • The clear way to avoid this is to "diversify" as much as possible: if you know you will only be able to have one spouse, you might want to choose a less attractive partner who is more similar to you in demeanor and interests. That way if (or when) your partner gets older and less attractive you'll still enjoy his/her company.
  • Another way to avoid this problem might be to try to reduce the odds of those bad things' occurring, for example, by living as "stable" a life as possible, in which drastic changes that affect the desirability of your partner are less likely to occur.
    Example 1 - If you spend your whole life living in the same town and marry someone you grew up with, you would seem to eliminate a whole host of problems that arise from environmental effects on your relationship" e.g. you marry someone and need to move for your job, and your happy-go-lucky spouse becomes extremely depressed in your new town because he/she doesn't have any friends there.
    Example 2 - You may not want your partner to be a soldier, mountain climber, industrial fisherman, horseback rider, etc. if you know he/she has a high risk of ending up with a disfiguring or debilitating injury (amputations, burns, paralysis, etc.) that would greatly reduce the enjoyment you would get from his/her company.

Reading Material on Relationships and Marriage
  • Marriage: A History - This is an excellent book that is fairly self-explanatory: it will give you a very good idea of the function that marriage has played through history. It is filled with fascinating anecdotes and revelations.
  • The Red Queen - I haven't finished reading this book, but it is widely cited as being a good read. My understanding is that the basic point of the book is that men and women have strong urges to act in certain ways that will maximize the chance of their genes being passed on to the next generation. I.E. Being in a long-term relationship to raise children while also cheating on each other. This would seem to result in a pretty pessimistic view of the odds of being happy in a long-term relationship: either you'll be miserable because you want to cheat on your spouse, or you'll be miserable because you cheated on your spouse and got caught.
  • Anna Karenina - A novel by Tolstoy in which he captures many aspects of the human experience, but the main theme seems to be romantic/marital relationships. Half of the story is very pessimistic about the odds of long-term happiness, the other half seems somewhat optimistic (although the story ends before seeing how things turn out).
  • Google Scholar articles on marriage and relationships - I love Google Scholar. It's a great source of research on marriage and relationships.
    Example studies:
    - 2000 - Research on the Nature and Determinants of Marital Satisfaction: A Decade in Review
    - 2008 - Personality, Marital Satisfaction, and Probability of Marital Infidelity

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