Anyway, Penn has mentioned several times on his show how happy he is with his wife, with whom he has much in common. What it seems is that Penn had a list of five criteria, the details of which I don't actually know, which he used to determine whether he could be happy marrying a particular woman. He decided that he would be flexible about just about everything else, excepting the five things on his list, which he would not compromise for anything when it came to marriage.
I think, in terms of determining if you would want to spend your life with a particular person, it is a great idea to have such a list. And while I'm NOWHERE near thinking of getting married, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could come up with the five inviolable criteria that any potential mate would have to meet. PLEASE, bear in mind that this has nothing to do with CHANGING another person to meet my needs. That is flawed and only results in worse failure. These are criteria that my ideal person would already meet on her own. So, here's what I've got, and why.
1. Non-religious and no desire to have religious children
It took me a long, long time to finally come to terms with my own atheism. I went through long periods of skeptical belief, of indeterminable agnosticism, of pantheism or Einsteinian religion, before I finally realized that the one thing all of those things had in common was a lack of a personal god. So, my ideal wife would have to agree with me on that and not want to make our children have to go through either religious indoctrination or the process of letting go of god, as Julia Sweeney put it.
2. Self Confident and Individualistic
For me, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who doesn't feel like she has to flirt with everyone and who is comfortable with her self-image. She has to be able to stand up for herself, to have her own interests and opinions, and not rely on others for these things. Similarly, I admire a woman who doesn't need a group of friends to go and do activities she enjoys. I'm not saying she shouldn't HAVE friends, I just don't think she should skip going to the movies, say, because "no one else wanted to go!" For a good, equal relationship, I would need a woman who is secure enough on her own and WANTS (not NEEDS) to share her life with someone else.
3. Enjoys quiet times and staying home
I'm a homebody. I always have been, and it's likely that I always WILL be. I don't mind doing things sometimes. I'm trying to be more sociable, but it isn't easy and I don't think I'll ever really enjoy large gatherings or outings. In order for me to be happy sharing my life with another person, she'd have to be someone who mostly feels the same way. I would not want to force someone to stay home, nor would I see it being terribly good if my wife were to force me to tag along either. And, both of us doing things our own way (me always home, her always out) would only lead to tension and stress. So, ideally, my wife would like hanging out, cooking meals, watching movies, playing games and whatever other quiet activities can be done in small groups and/or at the home base.
4. No altered states
You know, I probably am almost alone on this front, and this is likely to be the hardest of these five to meet. But since I just plain don't WANT or NEED to be drunk, high, tripping, or anything else, I'd probably have a very hard time being with someone who does. I'm sort of in-the-middle about whether my ideal woman would drink at all. In theory, I'd have no problem with someone who doesn't drink to drunkenness...but at the same time it's easy to make mistakes and GET to drunkenness unintentionally, or to really want to BE drunk but not do it (and thus feel constrained) because I don't like it. But for now, we'll just say people who really like being in altered states are out as far as marriage goes and that, most likely, anyone who dabbles would be on thin ice.
5. Passion for creativity and humor
I don't know if I could marry someone who didn't like creative enterprises very much, or at least respect the creative spirit. I'm not saying she needs to be a writer, artist, filmmaker, etc., only that she has to have an appreciation of those acts. Similarly, she has to understand and appreciate humor and the value of silliness. I think that, despite the fact that I am something of a serious person (others might say TOO serious, and maybe they have a point) I do try to sprinkle jokes and laughter about. Seriousness has its place, but so too does silliness and absurdity and in order for me to feel right about marrying someone, I'd have to be sure that she knew the necessity of both in life.
Anyway, that's my list. I don't think they are totally unreasonable premises on which to stand firm. I hope that you, my readers, know me well enough to know that these aren't meant to be sexist comments or even derogatory remarks to people who don't fit my definition. Other sorts of people are likely to be great for someone else...this is just the sort of woman I'd like to find. And, clearly, I respect the fact that any woman has a right to have her own set of criteria (which, to be sure, I'd generally not pass!) by which to decide who SHE would be willing to wed.
But enough about me...what about you?