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Why getting married is like buying shoes

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Getting married is a lot like buying a pair of shoes.

Think about it. You go into the shoe store, you look around. Maybe you’re there because you actually need shoes, maybe you found yourself in there because there’s a sale on and those sandals looked gorgeous and and and … you just can’t help yourself. Maybe you just have a debilitating weakness for Jimmy Choos.

Chances are you’re looking for something specific.

A pair of pumps for work.
Takkies for every day, or cross-trainers for the gym.
Stilettos for clubbing.
Hiking boots for the Drakensberg.
Slip-slops for the beach.
Sensible lace-ups for the office, if you’re a guy.
White faux crocodile skin slip-ons if you’re a guy with BEE ambitions. Velskoen if you’re not.
Maybe you’re looking for a pair of Crocs gardening clogs: comfortable and practical if not necessarily beautiful. Fit for purpose, as they say.

So you try them on to see whether they’re too big or small. You walk around the shop, looking at them in the mirror, testing them for comfort. You’ll weigh up how good they look against how good they feel. Sometimes you choose exactly what you went in there for. Sometimes you end up buying something you never thought you’d want. But something makes you decide you’re taking these ones home. You place the box on the counter, hand over your credit card, and they’re yours.

Here’s the thing with shoes. You have no idea then whether they’re going to cause blisters. Sure, you’ve tried them on, but there’s no telling what years of use will do. Perhaps they’ll mould themselves to your feet, becoming like a second skin, but it’s entirely possible that they’ll rub you raw. Even if they’re a good quality brand, you can’t be absolutely sure they’ll last, or you’ll look at them next season and think I can’t believe I bought that, and donate them to the Salvation Army. Maybe you’ll wear them for years and throw them out when they get old and tatty. And maybe you’ll trip and fall over in them and end up limping like Quasimodo.

That’s the scary thing about marriage. Consciously or unconsciously, you walk into it with a set of needs in mind, and either it works or it doesn’t. You can look back and say to yourself “How stupid could I have been?” “How could I not have seen that coming?” But we never see it coming, do we?

No matter how good it looks, no matter how good it feels, there is no way to be certain that it’ll work. You leap in, and you land on your feet or fall arse over kettle. In life, there is no money-back guarantee.