Often, the key to succeeding at something big is to break it into its tiniest pieces and focus on how to succeed at just one piece.When we examined procrastination, we talked about how a great achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable tasks looks like from far away.In the pixel post, we looked at a human life up close and saw that it was just an ordinary Wednesday, again and again and again—and that achieving life happiness was all about learning to be happy on a routine weekday. From afar, a great marriage is a sweeping love story, like a marriage in a book or a movie.
Feeling “at home” means feeling safe, cozy, natural, and utterly yourself, and in order to have this feeling with a partner, a few things need to be in place: Expecting a strong relationship without treating it like a rigorous part-time job is like expecting to have a great career without putting in any effort.
In a time when humans in most parts of the world can enjoy freedom and carve their own path in life, it usually doesn’t sit that well to suddenly become half of something and compromise on a bunch of things you grew up being selfish about.
So what skills does someone need to learn to be good at marriage?
The Traffic Test is passed when I’m finishing up a hangout with someone and one of us is driving the other back home or back to their car, and I find myself for traffic. To me, almost nothing is more critical in choosing a life partner than finding someone who passes the Traffic Test.
When there are people in your life who do pass the Traffic Test, what a whopping shame it would be to spend 95% of the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t.
A Traffic Test-passing friendship entails: If someone told you you had to sit in a chair for 12 straight hours without moving, aside from wondering why the hell they were making you do this, your first thought would be, “I better get in the most comfortable possible position”—because you’d know that even the comfortable.When it comes to marriage, a perpetual “discomfort” between you and your partner can be a permanent source of unhappiness, especially as it magnifies over time, much like your torturous situation in the chair.But human happiness doesn’t function in sweeping strokes, because we don’t live in broad summations—we’re stuck in the tiny unglamorous folds of the fabric of life, and that’s where our happiness is determined.So if we want to find a happy marriage, we need to think small—we need to look at marriage up close and see that it’s built not out of anything poetic, but out of 20,000 mundane Wednesdays. So I’ll leave the butterflies and the kisses in the rain and the twice-a-day sex to you—you’ll work that part out I’m sure—and spend this post trying to figure out the best way to make Forgettable Wednesday as happy as possible.Marriage isn’t the honeymoon in Thailand—it’s day four of vacation #56 that you take together. To endure 20,000 days with another human being and do so happily, there are three key ingredients necessary: I enjoy spending time with most of my friends—that’s why they’re my friends.Marriage is not celebrating the closing of the deal on the first house—it’s having dinner in that house for the 4,386th time. But with certain friends, the time is so high-quality, so interesting, and so fun that they pass the Traffic Test. It means I’m lost in the interaction, invigorated by it, and that I’m the complete opposite of bored.