Youth Dilemma: Appearance Vs Character

I came across this thrilling article by Wanjiru Kihusa as she narrated how wrong she was on her view of a perfect man. Looking back at the list of qualities she badly wanted in a ‘husband’, she could only conclude, “I never got the man I wanted. No I didn’t.”

The good, old advice to “go for character, not the looks” is obvious and we’ve heard it.  None can deny that’s true. What really baffles me is why it is so hard to put it into practice.

I’m a victim.

There emerges a real struggle when one decides it’s time to quit singlehood. You look at all potential people around you and weigh out their diverse advantages against disadvantages. Your mental list of what you think a perfect partner should be comes alive more than ever.

Woe unto them with ‘unfavorable’ physical qualities – they are the first to be kicked out, simply because those are the qualification topping 95% of the lists.

I thought when people get born again they get delivered of these demons, but I was dead wrong. The only change that happens is creating a space at the top of your list and indicate “1. born again”. Whatever was topping takes position two, and the list remains the same.

Why you struggle

First, humans are adventurous and life gains worth when we conquer. We are wired to experience so we can believe, thus the common say, “seeing is believing”. You want to experience but again, you fear failing. You only want a successful permanent adventure.

Then there’s this selfish desire to be happy. Selfish desires are short lived and can be satisfied by instant relieves. That’s why you’ll feel at peace when a tall, dark, strong guy in your favorite car appears.  Your problems for a moment will melt into thin air (though for a moment) when that slim, light/chocolate and well figured fine lady appears to accept your request.

The struggle is basically on balancing between short term and long term happiness.

In the quest to understand this impasse, I talked Mr. Enock Murunga, a relationship and marriage counselor and man who adds flesh to most of the pieces I post on this blog.

Enock reveals two reasons as to why young people are adamant on prioritizing looks over character.

#1. Ignorance

Not ignorance of the type of partner you want, but rather of the kind of marriage you need.

According to Enock, most people really don’t take time to ponder on what they want their marriage to look like. To them (or us) marriage is simply getting a spouse and start living together. If young people seriously thought marriage as a lifetime covenant, they could think twice on who they’re getting in partnership with to execute the engagement.

“So what happens,” Says Enock, “a person tends to pick anyone who fills his/her ‘form’ of happiness forgetting they’re not getting into an occasion but a lifetime commitment. And that’s a big mistake!”
It’s very important therefore, Says the counselor, to figure out if you are willing to put up with the other person’s personality – forever.  Physical beauty is only a skin deep. We may fall in love with beauty, but bottom line, we shall surely live with the character.

#2. Arrogance

This point answered my question, and I kind of felt pity of myself. I said earlier, I’m a victim.

Yes we know the truth, that marriage requires fortitude (the emotional and mental stamina to face difficulties and hardship). We yearn to live with a person who will understand when we err and accept our apology, someone with patience, integrity, a level of courage. But yet we ignore this knowledge and blindly take ‘good looking’ people for spouses despite their negative personalities.  Ain’t that arrogance?

People who don’t know history are bound to repeat it. Stories of people whose lives fell apart because they got attached to wrong partners dates as far as the times of Samson. He knew it was not right to marry Delilah, but He took her anyway. No need to narrate the consequences of that decision. We know many of such stories; we don’t need to experience to learn. Just apply that knowledge.

Divine intervention

My analysis of Kihusa’s writing  at wanjirukihusa.com indicates that only God can help out. She says God didn’t give her the man she wanted; He gave her the man she need, with qualities which were not on her list of priorities – the qualities God new she could need one day and yet she wasn’t aware of.

I don’t understand why, but from the many associates I’ve engaged, it’s not many people with admirable behavior possessing whatever good looks one wants. So one should be ready to sacrifice a certain degree of either beauty or character.

But if you’re lucky enough to get your list approved, thank God and ask for long life.

My plea

Take time and think hard what marriage is, yea, take quality time. Then decide what kind of person you want to hold your hand on this road.

Then, don’t be arrogant; accept that truth and choose a person who suits your journey. Be true to yourself, keeping in mind this is a long term commitment.

Go now work on yourself; I’m working on my arrogance – I promise!