Want to be happy for the rest of your life? Marry the right person

March 13, 2011

roger Freberg

OPINION By Roger Freberg

When my middle daughter was a freshman in college, she had a poster on her dorm wall that listed ten things that would lead to a happy life. The item on top was “marry the right person.” After thinking about it a moment, I had to agree. Although, I hear some women say that owning multiple cats is equally satisfying, it leaves me wondering about the dynamics. Leaving such an important decision to propinquity or luck seems romantic, but can often lead to really long term unhappiness. We tend to forget there is a choice between luck and searching.

“If your head tells you one thing, and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.” Marilyn vos Savant said.

A common myth about relationships is that opposites attract. Psychologists will tell you that “birds of a feather flock together” is much more accurate. The more people share in common in the beginning, the easier the relationship starts and the more likely it will last.

Here’s our story: Laura and I were high school sweethearts who married at age 20 (39 years ago!), and share a lot of similarities. We both have Swedish fathers, grew up in the same town, and have similar education (I have two masters, Laura has a Ph.D.).  We were often surprisingly mistaken as brother and sister when we were young.  We both love video games and football—our first date was the 1969 USC-UCLA football game (USC won, of course).

At 17, I had yet to learn that a lot of girls DON’T like football, so I was lucky Laura was a fan or that date might not have worked out too well.  Yes, we have differences.  Laura likes the Rolling Stones—I prefer the warm romantic sounds of Smokey Robinson. It wasn’t easy raising children in San Luis Obispo, but Laura and I pulled together and I am proud of who they are today.

Our happiness as a couple is based on our many similarities. Our similarities seem to be based on our dove tailed PERSONALITIES (being married to a Psychology Professor does rub off on you after 39 years). There is a fun test you and your significant other might enjoy taking called the Myers-Briggs (it is available on line). Be prepared, however, to have your soul exposed! Laura (INTJ) and I (ENTJ) are identical on every count, but one. She is an introvert (that’s the ‘I’ part) and I am  —  according to the test — an extrovert (that’s the ‘E’).

Laura has often said that I say things out loud (and maybe in this column and my blog) that she only dares to think but would never say. Entj’s and Intj’s are also said to be “natural buddies.” They are referred to as “Pals” in the literature and by this, they mean “they work and play well together with few natural conflicts.” If you haven’t seen the test, take it, and the results will surprise you. This assessment is nothing new and has been the key to the success of matchmaking programs like eHarmony.

One of the aspects of similarity between couples but especially married people that I think is very important is politics. Politics often speaks to a way we view life and how we plan to live our lives and raise our children. It is often the most overlooked variable in understanding how a relationship can fail. I wasn’t surprised to learn that my wife’s personality type skewed to the right. Forty-three percent of all INTJ’s report themselves as either ‘Republican or Conservative.’ Who knew it was part of the personality and an unexpected benefit to me?  Some of the UNHAPPIEST men I know are conservative men who married liberal women. They find their adult kids incomprehensible.

I remember meeting a Navy vet at a party who had a very “correct” wife (drove a “correct” car, belonged to all the “correct” groups, held all the “correct” beliefs, owned the requisite number of cats) and they shared a Goth daughter. Poor man. All he wanted to talk about was our oldest daughter, who was attending West Point at the time.  He wanted to know what my “secret” was. It was clear that he had married the wrong person and he was beginning to realize this now that he was retired and began spending more time at home and less time at sea.

MORE PSYCHOLOGY — moms have a big influence on ACHIEVEMENT motivation, and liberal moms are not exactly in the ‘tiger’ category—to liberals, getting along is more important than doing well, hence the conservative awards that have been showered on the animated film “The Incredibles.” I think Laura was even more upset than I was when daughter Karen told the following story. A SLOHS classmate had told her to stop wearing her letterman’s jacket to school, because it made other people “feel bad” (Karen was a two-time state champion in the shot put, and ran out of room on her jacket for patches).  Fortunately, Karen’s response to her classmate was a simple one—“they should work harder.”

Recently, a woman writing a column in the Huffington Post blamed everything on the woman for relationship problems; she must not be aware of the very common ‘man-as-god’ phenomenon. The trouble begins when couples stop using words like ‘we’ and ‘ours’ and move to the less personal ‘hers’ and ‘mine.’ BTW, Collectivism, communism, cooperation all work best in a family, and yet, these concepts seem foreign to liberals when they enter their ‘private’ life. They then turn into rigid capitalists defining property, rules and ‘the rights of the fully self actualized  individual.’ This predisposition works against pulling together and getting along and leads to relationship failure.

I’m not saying that people with a lot of differences can’t be happy with each other—we all know couples who have overcome tremendous difficulties with commitment. But I think having big differences in political orientation, especially if you plan to have children, is not a really good idea.

So next time, a better pick up line might be, “Hey baby, who’d you vote for in the last election?”

Roger Freberg is a San Luis Obispo resident who is using his retirement to write a culinary-inspired blog, comment on important local events and occasionally enjoy getting sued for his journalistic excellence.



  1. Cindy says:

    I have to wonder if Roger was entirely serious or was he bored and looking to stir things up? If he was looking for a fight, it’s funny. If he is serious, it’s scary.

    (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  2. bobfromsanluis says:

    Roger: As much as I may try to garner some respect for you and your views, I cannot. Typoqueen is correct in my opinion, in that you could have written an article about relationships and how people of different political viewpoints may or may not work out well, but use your article as a means of attacking women who are liberal is really just plain disrespectful.
    My liberal wife and I have been married for thirty eight years, raised three great children who all are productive members of society and are all “liberals”. All three of them did graduate from college, not that that is a requirement to function well in society, but I have always joked with my siblings that since none of my adult children have never been arrested, they don’t do drugs, none have ever been divorced (actually none have committed to being married yet) and they are all successfully supporting themselves in careers that they all enjoy, I am grateful that they have all turned out so well adjusted. I think it is great that your daughter choose to attend West Point and was able to make it happen that she did go there, but not everyone has that goal in their life, so please don’t put down others who don’t make the same choices that you, your wife or daughter have chosen. Your continued attacks on liberals as being intolerant might be more indicative of your own perceived short comings in the form of “projection”. I don’t “hate”, and I don’t believe that any percentage of those that consider themselves liberal foster an attitude of intolerance, other than an intolerance of intolerance. Your using an article on relationships as a means of attacking those who you disagree with politically is disgraceful and if you have the ability to feel shame, you should.

    (12) 26 Total Votes - 19 up - 7 down
  3. rogerfreberg says:

    Well, Typoqueen…

    I feel your pain. ;)

    The article was in part about achievement motivation, but mostly about finding and building a successful relationship based on similarity of personality and political orientation. However, let me see if I can address your rant:

    1) Former President Clinton makes an interesting case study… are you saying he was successful, or that he had a great marriage or both? I think history will tell a different picture, but I won’t take away your ‘hope.’ BTW, I wouldn’t go there on Bill Clinton’s cigar, marriage or relationships. ;)

    2) Although Liberals make a game of insulting conservatives and bristle at any justifiable criticism, my main purpose was to point out the classic relationship miss match: conservative man plus liberal woman….. and encourage young men like the young Cal Poly aerospace engineer to not just look into the eyes of his social worker girlfriend, but into her brain. Did I hit a sensitive spot?

    3) I also said that very different individuals can form lasting relationships, but it takes a lot more work… and frankly, I don’t want to be around to hear all the daily fireworks. Relationships shouldn’t be unpleasant or a constant struggle to sustain.

    4) ‘Hatred’ is a word that many on the left misuse to stifle discussion and free speech. Allow me to remind you, no one has a right to not be offended … this is America, Jack.

    And how many cats do you own?


    (-8) 30 Total Votes - 11 up - 19 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      No matter how much you don’t like it Freberg, I do have the ‘right the to be offended’. You saying that was also offensive. I don’t know who in the h@ll you think you are that you think that you can tell me what my rights are.

      My names not ‘Jack’ and I don’t have any cats.

      You are a hate monger, nothing more nothing less and that is why I won’t dignify the rest of your post with an answer.

      (9) 25 Total Votes - 17 up - 8 down
  4. caligirl009 says:

    Typoqueen – it’s not that crazy. Would you be happy married to Glenn Beck?

    There’s something to be said for making sure that the person you spend your life with shares your values. This is not “hatred.” It’s common sense.

    I value education, which is why I respect President Clinton for his scholarship. And I respect Roger for his MBA and MSBA from USC, and the psychology and behavior classes therein that are allowing him to push your buttons to the point where you can’t form an articulate counter-argument, but simply resort to calling names.

    I look forward to hearing your rebuttal, in which you explain how happy people with differences of opinion can be together. I certainly hope your offering here isn’t an example of that.

    (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      “Would you be happy married to Glenn Beck?”

      Calgirl, Glenn Beck is crazy, so no. But prior to being married I dated a few conservative men, not all conservatives are crazy or extreme in thier behavior/beliefs, there are a few intelligent ones out there.

      “I look forward to hearing your rebuttal, in which you explain how happy people with differences of opinion can be together”.

      James Carville and Mary Malalin.

      “This is not “hatred.” It’s common sense.”

      Caligirl this is far from commonsense, it is hatred.
      Hatred comes in many forms. Roger wrote: “to liberals, getting along is more important than doing well,” That is stereo typing, it’s untrue and it’s hatred. Are you going to tell us that all libs don’t do things well? Yes Clinton had an affair but he’s still with his wife and he’s done quite well. On the other hand we have Giuliani and Gingrich, they didn’t have the stones to work on their marriages, how did that ‘family values’ stuff work for them,,not my idea of doing things well. Notice how he said ‘to liberals’ as opposed to ‘some liberals’. Are you aware that just as with you cons we are not all the same, unlike many (not all) on the right we don’t share the same brain. I listed just a few examples of libs that have done well. Unlike some of you we are able to multitask and and we are able to use both sides of our brains. We can get along AND do things well, I feel bad that some of you are unable to do that. That’s how the Palins and Bushs of the world continuously scr@w things up. They can’t get along, they’re clueless when it comes to diplomacy/getting along. Did Palin ‘do well’ when she only taught her daughter abstinence only or when she quit her job as Gov.?

      I’m sorry to say it but it seems like Roger is living up to the adage that most psychologists are nuttier than their patients. I’m sad to see that you are so impressed by this man. He could have a PhD, but it means nothing if he doesn’t have commonsense.

      Roger could have written this article about compatibility, how people should have common interest to make their relationships work. But as usual he has an unnatural and unhealthy fixation and hatred towards liberals. NO reputable shrink would have added this ‘us vs them’ nonsense into this, it’s just stupid and mean spirited.

      (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
  5. justme says:


    (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
  6. Typoqueen says:

    “…sued for his journalistic excellence”

    That was a joke right?

    Roger wrote: “moms have a big influence on ACHIEVEMENT motivation, and liberal moms are not exactly in the ‘tiger’ category—to liberals, getting along is more important than doing well,”

    Just as a thought, this article is a joke.

    Clinton=Rhodes Scholar.
    Bush=Father pulled strings to get him in school due to low grades.

    Clintons daughter VS Palin and Bush’s daughters.

    I can’t believe that I took 3 minutes out of my life to read this nonsense.

    I feel sorry for Roger and his tiny closed mind but I don’t care how crazy or dumb someone might be I don’t like that CCN lets someone that’s so divisive and not that bright continually spread hatred like this. This tiny man doesn’t have a thought that doens’t include insulting liberals,,,bit weird.

    (3) 27 Total Votes - 15 up - 12 down

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