Fribble Should Marriage Be a Goal?

By KBowers@fool.com (Kelly Bowers)
October 4, 2000

As many of you know, The Fool got itself a CEO this spring. Something he said in one of his many "get-to-know-you" sessions made me think of marriage (bet you didn't expect that, did you, Pat?). He was talking about goals versus things that just happen along the way.

In the past two years, I've gone to more weddings than I can, literally, remember. It seems everyone I know is jumping on the marriage bandwagon. Even me! Sweet Baboo and I got married earlier this year, four and half years into our relationship.

Many of our friends' marriages are between people who dated for a year or less before deciding to get married. That always makes me a bit uneasy; however, I can't say that I had grave doubts about any of the relationships. Indeed, these tend to be people on the upside of 30 who've made what appear to be good matches with great partners.

It makes me reflect, though, on how many people see a wedding as a goal, rather than something that happens along the way while maintaining a great relationship. Heaven knows, I did when I was younger. That was why I dated, and anything that didn't deliver marriage I viewed as somehow being a mistake. I defined "success" in dating as "getting married." Getting married would mean I'd finally been a "winner" at the dating game.

What did that get me? Too many miserable dating experiences. That's why, in my early 30s, I dropped out of dating. No more time or energy spent on attracting someone's eye, no more personal ads, no more wondering where all the "good" men were, no more joining organizations just to meet people (which always meant men since I already had tons of great girlfriends).

I devoted all that energy that had gone to dating to my friends, my family, and myself. That may the smartest decision I've ever made (even more than coming to work at The Fool!). Somehow, along the way, I developed a new perspective on relationships and marriage. When I met Sweet Baboo and decided I might just be willing to date again, I found that my goal wasn't marriage. My goal was an enduring healthy relationship. Marriage might happen along the way, but it would only be one of the many events that would occur over the course of our relationship.

That new perspective really took the pressure off the relationship. It meant I could focus on, and enjoy, what was going on right now, rather than always wondering if I was going to "win" and get married. It meant I could be more daring in the relationship because I wasn't worried about ruining my "chances" on moving this relationship to marriage. It meant that when I decided that I was ready to add marriage to our relationship, I could approach it more calmly.

What does this have to do with investing? Hmmmm. Let me think about that for a minute. OK, here it is! It's easy to see things like IPOs or a certain stock price as the "goal" to which a company should be working. But it's not. A company should be working toward being a solid one, with good products, productive employees, and genuine contributions to the world. IPOs and stock prices are just something that happen along the way.

I have a date engraved in my wedding ring. It's not the date of our wedding. It's the date of our first smooch, because that's the date this lifelong adventure called "a relationship" really started. It's the date I truly celebrate.