March 8, 2022

Last fall, on her way to a huge concert she had spent over a year planning, Cathy was in an accident that totaled her car. Our YouTube guy, Aaron James Karr, graciously loaned us his spare car while we hunted for another one.

Finding a new family car was not an easy proposition. Due to the supply chain crisis, cars were in short supply with inflated prices. Then there is the size of our garage. Because of the way the garage is configured, we needed a car that is 182 inches long or less. However, we needed it to be roomy enough to comfortably seat five people and leave space in the back for groceries or luggage or whatever we might be hauling.

We test drove a lot of cars. One person suggested the Kia Soul. It technically fit our requirements, but it felt cramped. We decided against it. We also drove a Nissan Juke that had the same issue. If we were only looking for a personal vehicle, either of those might have worked. But Cathy's car had been our family car and we wanted to get something that would accommodate our entire household, including a teenager that will be over 6 feet tall pretty soon now--often riding in the backseat.

We liked both the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CRV. However, you pay a lot more for those brand names and I am not convinced you get better performance or durability anymore. They are also more expensive to repair. We found a Ford Escape that had been very well cared for, with a price about $4,000 less than we would have had to pay for either of those other two vehicles. It was equally roomy, fun to drive, with plenty of hauling space, eco turbo for better gas mileage, and it fits in our garage. When Cathy drove it, we pretty much knew we had found our car. It felt like home.

While seeking your forever partner is hardly the same thing, I think car buying is a good analogy. If one of us had been looking for a personal vehicle, the Nissan Juke would have fit the bill pretty well and it was affordable. Trying to make it serve the purposes of a family car would have felt like forcing something that isn't really a good fit. We could have made it work, but not comfortably. Have you ever dated someone that was a good person and well qualified for marriage, but he or she just wasn't a good fit? Maybe if you tried really hard you could make that relationship work, but it would feel like forcing something that didn't fit.

My first marriage was much like that. For a long time, my former wife really tried to make herself be the person I needed and who her family of origin wanted her to be. In the end, she wanted to make different choices and become something else. In our own ways, we both really tried to keep our family together. It was an uphill battle for many years.

There is a wide variety of great cars on the market today. They last longer with fewer problems than ever before. But that doesn't mean every great car is for me. I know that I am not for everyone either. For some people, I would not be a very good fit. (With Cathy, I think we have found a great fit together, and it just feels different.) Thus, if you are trying to sell a car and a few people test drive it but decide not to buy it, don't take it personally. They are just looking for a different kind of fit.

Where the analogy breaks down is when we start giving a lot of significance to things that don't matter very much. As Dr. Greg Baer said in our podcast interview, what good is it to have canoeing in common when you can't stand the other person in your boat? If you put canoeing at the top of your list, you might really overlook some glaring incompatibilities that matter a lot more. For example, if one or both of you is chronically selfish, the marriage is not going to work well no matter how much you have in terms of common interests, goals, and lifestyle.

So, when looking for fit, make sure to put the greatest weight on the most important things. Is your partner manipulative? Are you? Can you give and receive unconditional love? Can you allow your partner to be who he or she is without needing to change him or her?

Some of these characteristics will be universal. When buying a car, it might be really important to you to have a sunroof, a nice stereo, leather seats, a roomy back seat, good gas mileage, or any other number of amenities. Some of those things that matter to you will not matter to others. That's why there are many different kinds of cars. We hope there is a good fit for every driver. But virtually every car buyer wants a vehicle that is mechanically sound and reliable. That is more important than all of the other features combined. Be sure to put those universal things first, like being loving, teachable, willing to grow, honoring of agency, and kind. Try to be those things yourself.

Cathy can tell you that I am not always the most patient car shopper. I would prefer root canal surgery to walking on a car lot and being hit up by a salesman who tells me that there is no decent car in the entire world that is in my price range and just wants to sell me financing for a car I can't comfortably afford to increase his own commission. (Don't do a sales job on your dating partners. Don't manipulate them into being something they are not--or buying something they don't want.) You can test drive a lot of cars without finding one that feels good to you.

Where there are many different makes and models of cars, there are many more unique people. There are 8 billion of us on this planet, and no two are exactly alike. Sometimes the search gets tiring and you wonder if you are ever going to find a good fit. So I want to assure you that persistence pays off. Keep searching and you will find your king or queen and it will feel like you are home.
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