Tuesday, July 24, 2018

It's Not About Love--It's About the Skill Set

Non-ironic Romeo & Juliet tales like to emphasize the glory of love at all costs. "All that matters is our affection for one another!" 

One of my recent romance reads employed this approach. Despite the protagonists being respectively 20 and 24ish years old, the text argued that they would be able to make a go of it. Hey, sometimes a person has to date a lot to find that one and only. Sometimes the one and only is right there when one goes looking.

I don't debate the last sentence. What I debate is the ability of the 20 and 24-year-old in this case to make the relationship work, not because people that young can't but because the 20-year-old has zero experience taking care of anything any more difficult than a goldfish. (Seriously. It's implied that the youthful protagonist never even babysat the 2-year-old sister.)

The 20-year-old will move from the parents' home, where college is paid for, to the lover's home where presumably the 20-year-old will sit around the apartment all day. No job. No online job (no freelance work). No experience cooking. No experience shopping. No experience paying bills. No experience (as far as I could tell) even cleaning or doing laundry.

One may note that I haven't divulged the gender of the 20-year-old (unless one peeked at the link). That's because I don't think it matters. Lack of real-world experience is lack of real-world experience. And doesn't bode well for the health of the future relationship.

The point here is the same point that Foreman (Omar Epps) makes to Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) in an early season of House. It is possibly one of the most insightful statements ever made on television and worthy of House himself, though delivered in a far less caustic manner.

Cameron married in college to a man already dying from cancer. This gives her a kind of waif-like aura of tragedy (and entirely fits her tendency to fall hopelessly in love with lost causes, which House figures out in about three seconds flat). She sacrificed all for love! It was all about the love! It was Romeo & Juliet--he was fated to die!

Foreman kindly yet inexorably contests Cameron's right to some kind of profound angst. The real trial, to Foreman, is not marrying a man fated to die but marrying someone and staying committed and faithful to that someone for many years:
Foreman: You married a dying man. You thought six months, a year, it'll be tough. But then I'll recover and I'll have the rest of my life. It's like willy-nilly getting the flu or joining the Peace Corps. Short term.
Cameron: Wow, you nailed it. It's basically like a wasted weekend.
Foreman: The sacrifices you made were huge. But they were at the height of your love for him. Commitment is only commitment because it has no expiration date. You stand next to someone and watch them floss for 30 years like my parents have, then ask for sacrifices. That's how you know the real thing. Cameron, I wasn't criticizing you. People who avoid commitment are people who know what a big thing it is.
The sacrifices Foreman references may not directly entail things like "How do we spend the bonus money I got from work?" or "What exactly are going to be the sleeping arrangements when your parents come to visit?" or "If I do go back to school, will you be able to pick up the financial slack?" or "Who is going to do the laundry if we both work 60 hours a week?" but they often fall into that category.

Maybe the 20-year-old will figure it out. And maybe the 24-year-old, who has a far greater skill set, will be patient. But there's a reason that businesses like to hire people with experience and/or at least a college degree. It isn't that prior experience or a college degree guarantee that the new employee won't have to make adjustments, get more training, learn the ropes. It's that there is a difference between hiring someone who already knows how to focus/work and hiring someone who has to be trained how to work.

Here's what the business is asking itself: Why should we be the suckers that have to turn this person into an adult? 

It's a good idea for people to ask that question before marriage rather than after. Because it will get asked eventually, no matter what anybody thinks about the power of love.