FATHER Pat Connor, missionary, marital expert and the first priest ever to be quoted by Glamour magazine, says he would make a terrible husband.”After 40 or 50 years of living as a selfish bachelor, I would be a hopeless risk,” he says.He should know. The Australian-born Catholic priest, now based in New Jersey, has condensed his wisdom from 40-odd years of counselling engaged couples into one pithy manual of advice: Whom Not to Marry.The 80-year old’s plain sense warnings to women have turned him into something of a cult figure in the United States, which has been his home for three decades.The influential New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd gave him a glowing write-up, he appeared on the Today show, and, of course, made his unexpected debut in Glamour (”A whole new culture for me,” he says on reading the magazine).Since completing a Masters in counselling at Fordham University about 30 years ago, he has conducted premarital counselling and presided over more than 200 weddings. He also lectures high school girls on the pitfalls of marrying the wrong guy.He likes to catch women young, because once they have fallen in love they will be less likely to absorb his sensible and often unromantic advice. He believes there are no soulmates, only lovers to whom we commit.Father Connor’s central thesis is that you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you can’t be successfully married. He advises a year-long engagement to examine fully the values and character of your future spouse.Father Connor freely admits that a celibate priest writing about marriage is like putting a vegetarian in charge of a barbecue – slightly absurd and highly impractical.”That’s why I have always liked the quotation from Goethe, ‘Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action’,” he says.He has distilled his wisdom from diverse sources. The marriage of Dorothea and Casaubon in George Eliot’s Middlemarch is a cautionary tale, but Dr Samuel Johnson and the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are also full of insight.But most of his models are real-life ones. Father Connor’s mother makes frequent appearances in his book, usually to puncture his ego. When the then-young priest was pontificating on the importance of frankness in marriage, she told him she had ”never heard such a load of rubbish”.”She said, ‘If I had practised perfect frankness with that man at the end of the table’, my father who was on his third beer, ‘we wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.’ ”When questioned on why she married his father, she said she had ”liked the shape of his neck”.WHOM NOT TO MARRY Mummy’s boysMen who are bad with moneyMen with no friendsMen who put you down in publicMen who are rude to waitering staffMen unable to laugh at themselvesMen unwilling to share authorityMen who never make demands countering yours
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