Good luck to love. Luck to Love. A longtime professor at Swarthmore, Schwartz became nationally known for his surprising
research on choice. He showed that while we think having many choices will make us happier, it
leaves us less satisfied. When you have too many options, you’re always thinking about the alternatives that
you passed up. Schwartz joked about how happy he used to be years ago when his local store offered only one
kind of jeans. Then along came options like slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit, . . . and on and on. When he leaves the
store, the jeans fit much better, but he feels much worse. Adding options increases expectations, which, he
said, “produces less satisfaction with results, even when they’re good results.”
What’s true for jeans is equally true for spouses. “If you’re looking to find the best, you’re never going to put in
the time and effort to make what you have the best,” he told us. “It’s the Tinder effect. Why invest the time and
commitment necessary to make a relationship grow when another option is just a swipe away?”.
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Married for more than fifty years, Schwartz has been investing in his marriage for a long time. “We’ve known each other a lot longer than that — she was my best friend in eighth grade. So she doesn’t like it when I talk about finding a spouse who is ‘good enough,’ ” he said with a laugh. “But really, that’s what you want.”
The luck of their marriage wasn’t made the day they met, or the day of their wedding — that was only the beginning of the story.
Nobody likes the idea of “settling” for a spouse, but Schwartz points out we’re usually lousy at knowing how to evaluate potential mates. After all these years, he knows that his wife is kind, empathetic, and intelligent, and has a fierce moral core — plus she’s a great first reader for everything he writes. But he didn’t focus on any of that when they met. “I was attracted to her because she was the first girl I ever met who loved baseball — more specifically, the New York Yankees. Liking the damn Yankees — what kind of basis is that for a relationship?”
But the luck of their marriage wasn’t made the day they met or the day of the wedding ceremony. That was the beginning of the story, not the end. The real relationship developed in the following years as they trusted each other and turned to each other for support and love. “You always hear people say, ‘Oh, they’re so lucky they found each other.’ But no. Really, they found each other and turned it into something others wanted. That luck happens much more often than kismet,” said Schwartz.
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When you focus only on the days leading up to the wedding, you forget to think about what happens afterward. And it’s in that afterward when the marriage — and the real luck of love — kicks in. A successful financier I’ll call Troy thought he was the luckiest guy in the world when he started dating a model. His friends were appropriately wide-eyed and jealous. The luck continued, or so it seemed, culminating in a wedding much shared on social media.
But then life happened. It’s a good bet that a guy who dates a beautiful model (we’ll call her Helen) is a type A, high-testosterone sort who likes to be the center of attention. When they went out in public, Troy found himself pushed into the background. Photographers wanted to get shots of Helen on the red carpet — and could he please step aside? There was always a flurry when they walked into a restaurant, but all eyes were on her, not him. The luck ended with a very expensive divorce.