Work, Partner, Friends
All are important and are the pillars of happiness. However, one stands out. Most students devote their greatest efforts to shaping their work lives, and this makes sense (see above: the myth of balance). However, the most important decision you’ll make is not where you work, but who you choose to partner with the rest of your life. A spouse who is not only someone you care for and want to have sex with, but is also a good partner, softens the rough edges and magnifies the shine of life. I have several friends with impressive careers, wonderful friends, and a spouse they love. But they aren’t happy, as their spouse isn’t their partner. They are out of sync on their goals and approach to life. Misalignment on what’s important and a lack of appreciation for the other makes everything … harder. My friends with less economic success, and less time with friends, but a real partner to share their struggles and successes with are tangibly happier.
Passion, Values, Money
The best marriage partnerships I know of are synced up on three things. They are physically attracted to each other. Sex and affection establish your relationship as singular and say “I choose you” nonverbally. Good sex is 10% of a relationship, but bad sex is 90% of a relationship. However, this is where most young people end their diligence. You also need to ensure you align on values like religion, how many kids you want, approach to raising kids, proximity to parents, sacrifices for economic success, and who handles which responsibilities that make a life. Money is an especially important one for alignment, as the number one source of marital acrimony is financial stress. Does the other’s approach to, contribution, and expectations about money flowing in and out of the household foot to yours?