- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

The problem is that nearly half of marriages end in divorce.
And the real problem, says clinical psychologist Neil Clark Warren, is that many of the divorcing couples should never have married in the first place.
Marry the wrong person and you may as well start picking out divorce lawyers along with the china pattern.
"I think Americans have become vastly unable to select their own marriage partner," said Mr. Warren, author of the 1992 best seller "Finding the Love of Your Life" and several other relationship books.
"The task has become incredibly complex, and that complexity hasn't been recognized by our culture," he says. "Half of all divorces get started within three years of the wedding, and a lot of them get started on the honeymoon. People start running into these dimensions [of their partner] they haven't checked out."
Mr. Warren, who has practiced for more than 30 years, says watching more than 500 marriages crash and burn brought him to the conclusion that the spouses had married the wrong person.
"The marriage was in trouble from the day it began," he says.
His book outlines 10 principles for choosing the right marriage partner. Mr. Warren has given more than 120 seminars on the subject of mate selection.
"Invariably," he says, "people would come up and say, 'You told us what the rules are, now where are the people?' " Last August, he founded www.eharmony.com, a Web site matching service that aims to put people of similar attributes and beliefs together based on their responses to a 250-item profile.
Compatible traits include chemistry, wit, verbal intimacy, energy level, children, socializing, sexuality and financial goals. Matched singles are guided through an anonymous six-stage communication process guided by the Web site.
"We don't let people upload their picture until they've finished the process," he says. "People become addicted to the external. Once they see the external, they think they know the internal, and 75 percent of the time they're dead wrong."
After two members have completed the process, they decide whether to meet in person. The initial survey is free; matches cost $15 each, but a current special allows a year's worth of unlimited matches for $100. The service has 50,000 registered users and hopes to grow to 265,000 by the end of the year and to 3 million by the end of 2002.
Mr. Warren says 5 percent to 10 percent of those who register are weeded out through a screening process that can identify the emotionally disabled. The site also features a "must have/can't stand" section that allows people to list qualities they are seeking and avoiding in a potential mate.
"Society as a whole, in my opinion, has become very disillusioned about marriage. We have 5 million couples living together and the reason is, they don't have much confidence they can make a selection of a marriage partner that will last long. They've seen their parents break up and their friends break up. The big problem for most single candidates is the pool of candidates is so pitifully small they can't begin to do the matching."


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