Rohit's Realm

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September 20, 2007

Tying the Noose: Criteria for Marital Bliss

Though I have not yet attained the age where relatives routinely harass me about asinine topics such as settling down or, worse, finding love, it seems that no conversation these days, whether it be with friends or strangers, is complete without a discussion of one's status, e.g., married, single, in an (open) relationship, hooking up, and so on, and so forth. It almost seems as though the older we get—and the more our thoughts and interests diverge—the more we cling desperately onto the rather banal topics of conversation that everyone can relate to (e.g., money, cash, hoes) for fear that without these topics, we might have nothing to say to one another at all. And while I have no qualms about answering the question, whether the answer be single or otherwise, in recent times, I have noticed that the former answer seems to generate rather inexplicable angst amongst the self-avowed (and necessarily self-deluded) hopeless romantics of the world.

To disabuse these misguided readers (and/or friends) of this angst, I will now present my personal criteria for successfully tying the noose—I mean, knot—so that they might finally understand that though my life will likely never be one of happiness or fulfillment, it will certainly be one of legacy and wealth.

Before going on to my criteria, let me say that the concept of love, though commonly—and might I add, erroneously—attributed to the institution of marriage, not only does not make the list, but indeed is quite an irrelevant point. As I discussed earlier, using one's spouse as a means of finding happiness is a strategy wholly without merit; failure is virtually guaranteed by the fact that one cannot find happiness from without when it does not exist from within. More than that, love, loosely translated as the baseless combination of sexual attraction and complacence, is hardly necessary for successful partnership. Realistically, what one needs for marriage is a fundamental compatibility with the other person—a compatibility that is just as easily achieved through close friendships—coupled with the willingness to compromise on aspects of one's existence that are not non-negotiable. Or in other words, we can reasonably treat marriage as a business venture for the purposes of this analysis.

As in all successful business ventures, criteria must exist upon which to gauge one's partners. For me, these criteria essential boil down to two extremely important points:

  1. Dual Income; and
  2. Brand Management.

Dual Income

Dual income is by far the most important criterion for marriage. Gone are the days where the man wears the pants and brings home the bacon—and good riddance to those awful days! Why men of yesteryear would agree to support their freeloading spouses (and/or children, for that matter) under some misguided notion that it increases their perceived masculinity is beyond me: two incomes are obviously better than one (and three better than two—put those kids to work!), and if your spouse makes more than you, that's even better—she or he is the one who married wrong, not you!

I feel like there should be no reason to belabor this point: clearly, there is no more important reason to marry than to supplement one's own earning power. Why would anyone bother otherwise? Loneliness? Don't be fucking ridiculous. If you're lonely enough to blindly jump into a marriage with the next mildly attractive person you meet, may I instead recommend moving near a strip club and getting a goldfish?

Brand Management

First, for all those who did not have the extreme privilege of having been consultants in a previous lifetime, let me explain what I mean by brand management. Quite simply, to those of us who have drank too much of the proverbial corporate Kool-Aid, each person, in representing his or her strengths and talents to the outside world is, in effect, creating a brand, much like Nike or Mercedes Benz. And once we have created our brand, i.e., proven ourselves to be the awesome individuals that we are, it is in our general interest to ensure that our personal brand retains its value as a luxury good. This noble purpose, i.e., ensuring your brand is worthy of name dropping in a rap song is what is known as brand management.

Brand management and marriage are intrinsically interrelated for two fundamental reasons: first, no matter where you go, you will judged based on the people with whom you associate, and none more so than your spouse; and second, your children, a random amalgamation of your genes and those of your spouse will carry forth your brand in years to come. Thus, it is in your interest to ensure, first of all, that your spouse is someone with whom you can appear in public without fear of humiliation, embarrassment, and/or disapproving looks; and second of all, that your spouse possesses the necessary genes to not devalue your brand in generations to come.

The second point is worth expanding upon. In procreating (a quite frequent, though not necessarily desirable, byproduct of marriage), we propagate our brand, much like a fashion house might by opening a new retail store. The key in retail, of course, is to retain the value of your brand by opening your store in the right place; so whereas a new store in Orange County might up your brand's credibility, a new store in the Central Valley would probably lead to a major devaluation of the particular brand in the eyes of the public. If Nascar-watching hicks are wearing your clothes, the brand is likely less desirable to most of the rest of the world. (With the exception of trucker hats, hick-chic is never in.)

Unless you are a complete idiot unworthy of reproductive privileges (or the oxygen you breath), you likely know that your genes will only represent a little less than half of your offspring (let's not forget recombination!). The other half is going to be the genes of the unlucky person dumb enough to sleep with you, so when the intention is actually to reproduce (rather than the tragic result of a particularly drunken—and clumsy—endeavor), it should behoove you to ensure the other half of your offspring will possess genes worthy of your brand. Specifically, your spouse better be smart, so your kids are not dumb (a fate worse than death, if you ask me).

Other, Secondary Considerations

Beyond the primary criteria of dual income and brand management, several secondary criteria might be considered if time permits. For instance, diversification is always a noble economic goal, and is readily applied to marriage. If you are, say, a mortgage banker who specializes in the subprime market, it might be useful to marry a bankruptcy lawyer, so that your spouse's practice will pick up around the same time yours falters. Even better, investing in so-called market neutral strategies such as accounting or medicine means your spouse will never be out of work, even while your career might bounce up and down.

Certainly, there are many other secondary considerations, but I won't waste your time enumerating them all; in the grand scheme, the primary criteria far out weigh the secondary ones.

So there you have it: my criteria for marital bliss. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to generate a worksheet for comparing one's potential (marriage) partners. Live long and prosper, people.


Don't you think that by publishing this extremely well rationalized business plan, you might be putting yourself at a disadvantage? I mean, now competitors can use your business/marriage/life plan to steal away potential partners. Kind of dropped the ball there, Rohit.

I think a better question is: given this public plan (a new low on this abomination of a web site), what sane woman would be stupid enough to even go out with you on a date, let alone marry you?

I buy the income portion but brand management needs more thought. If you're in a sham marriage, and everyone knows it, it can only hurt you.

somehow we need to get into the business that bypasses and just places people into arranged marriages. dating is vastly overrated.

Jon, I don't know—if you meet a couple, both of whom are very successful professionals, with well-behaved and successful children, would you really be able to tell the marriage is a sham? It would likely be much more successful by most (admittedly vapid) measures of success than one in which the couple is ostensibly in love.

I think a brand management-conscious couple could project equal, if not greater, happiness in the public (if not personal) sphere by virtue of the fact that they have other things besides their undying romance to provide them with happiness.

And while I totally agree that dating is highly overrated (indeed, its purpose may not be so much marriage as effort-less sex), brand managed marriages need not be arranged: you just have to find the person in the right place (e.g., a med school) and hang out with them to ensure personal/living compatibility.

Jennifer, obviously a woman concerned with brand management issues would easily be persuaded by my compelling analysis. Duh.

Katie, I am (and have for a long time) been an advocate of open source software; similarly, I believe in an open forum of ideas. Knowledge of my so-called business plan does not really provide any competitors with any sort of material advantage; in the end, it still comes down to how well I (or any of my competitors) can trick the acquisition target (i.e., future spouse) into believing that money and smart kids will compensate for a total lack of romantic/emotional involvement.

I just happened along your site/blog this afternoon, Rohit, through an internet search (on the new animated Pixar film, Ratatouille, of all things).

I have to say what I've read so far is highly interesting.

It's a pleasure to bookmark this page, and to start reading material as it is updated.

Nice to "meet" you (by way of the internet), Rohit!

I just happened along your site/blog this afternoon, Rohit, through an internet search (on the new animated Pixar film, Ratatouille, of all things).

I have to say what I've read so far is highly interesting.

It's a pleasure to bookmark this page, and to start reading material as it is updated.

Nice to "meet" you (by way of the internet), Rohit!

I fail to see what Jennifer is so upset about. You simply point out wisely that you'd like to able to send your children to a good school with your dual incomes and the only way they can get into that private school is if your wife is smart. Keep the cycnicism alive my friend. When you meet your potential partner, I hope you draw up a cost/benefit analysis with corresponding matrix.

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