We Are a Set of Problems

April 24, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Posted in Relationships | 11 Comments

I remember well sitting in a restaurant in Mexico City with my Mexican colleagues and one of them, with a sad face says “The women they change; we men, we no change.”

It is a commonplace to say that husbands want women to stay the way they were when they were dating and that wives want men to begin changing once the honeymoon is over.

My favorite subject in books and movies is the battle of the sexes, particularly in the marital state. I avoid action, war and science fiction movies at all costs because of the small doses of the male/female relationship theme they deliver. When the guns come out, I hit the exits.

Now after long study I have learned something new. I am reading Mindset by Carol Dweck and in her chapter on Relationships she writes: “Relationship expert Daniel Wile says that choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. There are no problem-free candidates.”

This is so profoundly true. We all have our demons and they will have their day – if not their heyday. So, in choosing our mates we should coolly sit down with a nice glass of wine and think through our future mate’s personality blemishes. Examining each one with the eye of a connoisseur and then looking at them as a group, we decide if this particular set of behaviors are ones that we can accept contending with for the rest of our lives.

We think, maybe yes, maybe no. We look to pour more wine and see that the bottle is empty and call for another.


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  1. Tom, unfortunately, the women have access to wine as well. How do any of us find anyone?

    Girl from the Red River Shore – Bob Dylan
    Some of us turn off the lights and we live
    In the moonlight shooting by
    Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
    To be where the angels fly
    Pretty maids all in a row lined up
    Outside my cabin door
    I’ve never wanted any of ’em wanting me
    Except the girl from the red river shore
    Well I sat by her side and for a while I tried
    To make that girl my wife
    She gave me her best advice and she said
    Go home and lead a quiet life
    Well I been to the east and I been to the west
    And I been out where the black winds roar
    Somehow though I never did get that far
    With the girl from the red river shore
    Well I knew when I first laid eyes on her
    I could never be free
    One look at her and I knew right away
    She should always be with me
    Well the dream dried up a long time ago
    Don’t know where it is anymore
    True to life, true to me
    Was the girl from the red river shore

  2. […] just received a comment on my most recent blog, my first on “relationships,”  from my friend Brian Boyd, with lyric […]

  3. A new one to me too – nice lyrics, a bit ‘North Country’-ish.

    Tom, you forgot to add – ‘You also look at her mother.’

    • … and ankles.

      Have you started our new job?

      • I meant YOUR new job!

      • Yes, three days in. So far, so good!

  4. I often say, we are all flawed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s you can’t try to change someone.

    People are who they are. We are loving, shallow, charitable, image conscious, honest, critical, shy, brash, patient, selfish and so much more.

    We are who we are. Some will love us for our humility while others see it as a weakness. That’s the beauty of trying to find that special someone. What makes us perfect for one person makes us grossly imperfect for another person.

    I’m a big believer in “effort.” I applaud effort. I respect effort. I buy into effort. It’s easy to accept and even overlook faults when you that person is making the effort.

    If you will, in theory we’re supposes to give 50%. 2 people giving 50% in a relationship gives you 100%. I tend to disagree. There will be days when all you can give is 30%. It’s on those days that your better half needs to give a little more effort. Effort makes up for faults.

    Effort speaks to a good heart and a good soul. To me those are the building blocks to a great relationship.

    • Thanks for writing. I think that it is true that we are who we are — at any one moment. I believe that we can change ourselves in almost every way — except height. I agree with you on effort.

  5. I have been thinking about this (the battle of the sexes) since I read it late Saturday…and thought about it when I drove 420 miles yesterday and had to post this while I am thinking about it (again!). My favorite movie of all time (Gladiator) takes on a whole new dimension when one considers “the battle of the sexes” that goes on in a minor sub-plot in the movie.

    • thanks for writing … keep your eyes on the road!

  6. […] We Are a Set of Problems April 2010 10 comments […]

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