To my two young daughters:
One day that will come all too soon, your father and I will have to reconcile with the fact that you're going to date and, eventually, settle down. When that time comes, we hope you choose a romantic partner (man or woman, doesn't matter to us) who makes you happy — someone who is kind, honest and respectful (and more, but we'll get to that shortly). Interestingly, when you pick that partner, you will have very little understanding of exactly what it means to spend the rest of your life with someone. In some ways, the cliche is right: It's a leap of faith.
我们知道有一天，你们的爸爸和我终将接受现实，你们会出去和男孩子约会，并最终建立属于自己的家庭。当那一天来临，我们真心希望你们可以选择一位浪漫的人生伴侣。男人 or 女人，对我们来说并不重要，重要的是他or她可以让你们幸福，并且是一位善良，诚实和值得尊重的（当然还有一些品质，但不要着急，我们接下来就会讲到）。有意思的是，往往当你们选择那位伴侣的时候，你们可能并不清楚你们接下来的人生中你都将与之为伴。从某种角度来说，老话说得对：这一步是天降神迹，虽然前途茫茫不可知，却凭借着强大的信心迈了出去。
As a culture, we spend hours upon hours developing academic knowledge, building physical fitness, deciding where to go to college or learning about finances. But we spend very little, if any, time teaching young people how to make the most important decision of their lives. Because that's what it is — your choice of life partner will affect the quality of your life much, much more than where you go to college, what you do for a living or where you make your home.
Grandma and Papa (my parents) celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year, and two sets of aunts and uncles are celebrating their 20th and 30th anniversaries. Your father and I aren't quite that far along at 12 years, but we are very happily married, and those relatives would tell you the same. (Though to be fair, they would tell you this even if they weren't, as would a lot of people, which only adds to the lack of education on the subject.) So when it comes to choosing a life partner and sticking together, I like to think we have some excellent examples around us.
I'm no expert on love or relationships; I only know what I know through experience as I've watched partnerships around me succeed or fail. So armed with that knowledge, here are eight things I hope you'll consider when choosing your life partner.
1. Have the biggies in common.Do you share the same desires when it comes to having kids or not? At least two of your relatives got divorced because the answer to this question was no. Do you have similar attitudes toward religion or spirituality? Do you agree about general personal finance practices — debt payments, savings, splurge purchases? Lastly, and don't underestimate the weight of this one, as it has had a huge impact on your parents' marriage: When it comes to spending time with each other's families (holidays, vacations) and taking care of aging parents, are you in agreement on what's reasonable?
1. 在大的方面有共同点。你们在是否抚养孩子的问题上面是否有着共同的需求？在你们的亲戚当中，至少有两对离婚是因为这个问题上面他们的回答是No. 你们对宗教或者灵性有共同的态度吗？在个人理财上面你们的态度是否一致 - 债务偿还，储蓄或者购买大件物品？最后一点，但不要低估了这一点，因为至少在你们父母的婚姻里它有着很大的影响力。这个问题就是：你们是否在花多少时间和对方的家庭成员一起度假，如何照顾年迈的父母这样的问题上取得了共识？
2. Find the yin to your yang.Those commonalities are important, but there's something to be said for having someone who's strong where you are weak. It creates a nice balance and a natural split of responsibilities. For example, I hate dealing with companies — cable companies, banks, electric companies. But your dad doesn’t mind, and he's much better at dealing with people than I am, so he makes those calls. Meanwhile, he can't survive on just a few hours sleep, whereas I can, so I'm the one who gets up with you two and the pets during the night and on weekend mornings so he can rest. (Some people may say that scenario represents stereotypical gender roles, but we both work full-time and have responsibilities at home, so it seems fair to me.)
2.找到他or她身上的“阴性”特质来与你的“阳性特质”互补。上面那些共同点的确十分重要，但是我们也希望当你们脆弱无助的时候身边的人是坚强可靠的。这里面有一个很好的平衡和自然的分工。例如说，我讨厌和各种机构公司打交道 - 电缆公司，银行和电力公司。但是你们的爸爸不介意，并且他在和他们交涉上比我要擅长多了，所以经常是他来负责打那些电话。但另一方面，要是你们老爸睡不够就好像要了他的命一样，而我哪怕只有几个小时的睡眠也没问题，所以一般是我在周末早上叫你们两起床，带狗狗出去溜，而他可以好好的睡一觉。（有些人可能会觉得这有点像传统的男女分工模式，但我们两都有全职工作，而且在家都有分工，所以这个对我来说挺公平的）
You'll spot shared weaknesses fairly quickly. For example, when your father and I bought our two-story home with a small-but-high-maintenance yard in 2008, we were overjoyed. However, we soon realized neither one of us had any desire to take care of the yard. He grew up in high-rise condos where they didn't have a yard. And I grew up in a home where my father did all that, so I couldn't even start a lawnmower. As a result, our yard is an overgrown mess, the neighbors politely but consistently ask if they can help us clean up, and each fall I comb Craigslist for someone to come bag up all the leaves. Oh well.
3. Throw out the idea of perfect.Don't make a checklist — mental or otherwise — of traits your future partner must have. You can't conjure up your perfect mate and go buy said robot at Target. If you must make a list, make a list of deal-breakers: no smokers, no drug addictions, no one with a violent felony conviction. Those are healthy boundaries to set.
4. Explore compatibility.Some say opposites attract, and that can be true as in the yin and yang mentioned above. But sometimes you need someone with whom you're just a natural fit. Are you both foodies who like to cook or dine out? Do you both have a sense of wanderlust? Are you both couch potatoes? Do you both have a passion for learning? Similarities in activity level and ambition can make for a pair (and eventually a family) that likes to do things together. Basically, do you have fun together? I've had more fun with your father than anyone else, ever. He makes me belly laugh all the time.
A recent study of more than 24,000 married couples shows you will likely end up with someone similar to yourself — at least in terms of education level, height and weight, and possibly even political preference and psychiatric disorders. Australian researchers found a strong statistical correlation between people’s genetic markers for height and the actual height of their partner, and they found a weaker but still statistically significant correlation between people’s genes for BMI and actual BMI in partners, Science Magazine reports.
5. Don't expect people to change.If your prospective future mate is a slob, don't expect them to morph into a neatnik just for you. Sure, some things can change. Maybe a bad cook can get better or someone who snores terribly can tweak a sleep routine to fix it. But ask yourself, if the quality you dislike never changed, could you still love and live with this person?
6. Feel as comfortable with them as you are at home.Can you be yourself around this person? I mean, really, truly yourself. Can you laugh until you snort like your mother does and not feel embarrassed? Can you express opinions that may be unpopular or contrary to theirs and not feel alienated? Can you admit that you don't know something without worry of judgement?
7. Don't just love them, like them.Life partner means for the rest of your life, and hopefully that will be a loooooong time. When you're middle aged and exhausted and can't muster up the energy to party all night, will you enjoy a quiet night at home with just the two of you? Do you have long talks or conversations where you feel interested in this person and what they have to say? Do they make you laugh? This is why some people say it's good to be friends first. If you genuinely like them, I think you're more likely to keep investing in the relationship and trying to make it work, even (especially?) when it's hard.
8. Look for good partnership qualities aside from chemistry.Whether romantic, business or otherwise, these qualities make for a good partnership: empathy, integrity, honesty, reliability, stability and emotional availability. When you hit bumps along the road — and you will, whether it's a serious illness, a death in the family or job loss — a good life partner will demonstrate those qualities and help you get through it. But there's nothing like hard times to show who's loyal to you and who's not. If life hands you a lemon and your partner bails on you emotionally, it's time to reconsider your choice.
8.除了化学反应之外，也寻找那些具有良好的合作伙伴气质的人。不管是商业关系，亲密关系还是其他，这些品质都适用于一个好的合作伙伴：同情心，正直，真诚，可靠，稳定和不俗的情商。当你撞到了“路沿” - 无论是疾病，失业或者亲人的离去 - 一个好的人生伴侣会展现出以上的品质并帮你渡过难关。没有什么时候会像艰难的时刻那样更好的显示出谁忠于你，谁不是。当生活不尽如人意的时候而你的伴侣在你的情感方面离你而去，那么是时候重新考虑你的选择了。
The decision of choosing a life partner is yours and yours alone. This is what I've learned from my own experience, and I'm just trying to share as much knowledge as I can to help you with the process. No matter whom you choose, your father and I will still love you more than anything else in the world.