Over Shabbos we had a conversation at the table about deciding "who's the one." One person remarked that pretty much any two people can get married as long as they work on the marriage. Another friend on mine made a similar comment to me years ago, in which he noted that everyone can make their marriage work as long as they put in the effort.
An interesting blog has a good response to this argument. He argues that the statement is basically true, "[b]ut there's a good chance that such a marriage will be a '74 Ford Pinto [instead of an '06 Lexus]." In other words people could make it work, but the quality of the marriage would be poor.
I actually disagree. I don't think most people can marry. There are so many factors involved in choosing a spouse that we're almost lucky when we find the right one. These include (in no particular order): Hashkafa, personality, looks, family, intelligence, interests and responsibility.
Now people usually trade some of these factors for others. Certainly most individuals could have a good or even decent marriage with someone who is not their intellectual equal or doesn't care much for sports. But both parties must have a similar hashkafa or there will be many problems down the road (especially with regard to raising children).
Personality is extremely important. While most people could get along with a fairly wide range of personalities, his/her spouse must fall within that range. I've met many nice, intelligent, pretty girls but I could never marry them for personality reasons. For example, a girl might be very emotional, or be easily stressed out, or even very organized. All of these traits are favorable traits (I really mean that), but I'd go crazy within a week.
Another problem is that not everyone is willing to work things out. There's working thing out, and then there's working things out. If a couple has a disagreement, they could come to a resolution after hours of fighting or because one party doesn't want to fight and is always willing to give in. That creates the veneer of a happy marriage, but that's not compromising. It's coming to a truce.
Really working things out means both parties, calmly and rationally, evaluate the other's argument and decide on the most rational plan of action. Personally I could not marry a girl who refused to listen to my arguments and just fought. I would go crazy.
So basically compromising is important, but certain traits are red lines and if crossed, will likely lead to divorce or very unhappy marriages. People must draw a line between picky and sensible.
I got lucky and didn't have to draw a line. I got everything I wanted and more. I'm giving all my readers a bracha that they should be as lucky.