Continued from last week

For example, a woman with a college degree who has her own business and has become quite successful will probably never be compatible with a man who has a third-grade reading level, works at a gas station and has no further ambitions in life. While this scenario is an extreme example, it makes the point.

How about her perspective on learning? Is it similar to yours? How does he view further education and the importance of doing well in school? What are her study habits, and does she enjoy research and expanding her mind—even if school homework and college studies did not seem to require this?

There will be times in the marriage when you will need to really “go to school” on a topic or subject—purchasing a car, buying a house, rearing children, searching for a new job or apartment, or battling an illness, to name a few! Will you both—as a team—be able to tackle these things together?


Society once talked in terms of a person’s “breeding.” As with courtship, people rarely use this term anymore. Having “good breeding” seems to carry a connotation of either snobbery—people looking down one’s nose at another—or something done with dogs and cows. However, “breeding” really only means—and here is the social definition—one’s “training in the proper forms of social and personal conduct or their manners, knowledge of, or training in, the ceremonies, or polite observances of society.”

Earlier on, we discussed the importance of the social graces and etiquette. These areas of deportment and decorum are all related! Think about whether you are both at a similar level of polish. Obviously, if one party comes from “high society” and the other wears “bib overalls,” there can be no compatibility. But more subtle differences ought to be noted.

Ask: Did her parents teach her how to graciously host guests, tactfully converse and courteously conduct herself with others? If not, has she personally striven to improve herself in her knowledge of such propriety? Is he loud, crude and brash in mannerism and conduct, and are you willing—and able—to live with that?

Similarly, do not overlook a person’s cultural background. Is it vastly different from yours? When two people grow up in completely different cultures, and/or completely different regions of the world, they will naturally have different values, beliefs, perspectives and methods of approaching situations.

If this is the case—if the person in whom you are interested comes from a very different culture—pay attention to the possible conflicts or trouble spots it could create before deciding to marry. Background in different clothing styles, cuisine, music, sports, language, traditions, customs, architecture, travel and other differences come into play.

Talk to each other about how you grew up. Practice picturing yourself having to compromise in various ways after marriage, seeing if the two of you are really able to form your own combined culture. Possibly be willing to blend or give up some things you may have always thought of as normal—“the only way things are done.” Either way, be realistic.

Cultural differences can stem from growing up in households with different nationalities or from having been reared in different countries, or even different regions of the same country. In addition, do not discount or overlook differences stemming from one of you having grown up with your religious beliefs, while the other person may have acquired these same beliefs later in life.