You can't fault the optimism.

Now, through the lens of hindsight, I realize that I should have known that dating and even cohabitating were only warm-ups for the big dance. Example: I didn't really mind the eggshell color of our living room walls——it provided a functional backdrop to both the climbing/skiing pictures taken by a friend in Patagonia, and to the portraits of Italian cafes and riverboats Kristi's father painted, which we hang in place of the climbing photos whenever he visits. However, to Kristi, the color was "dead guy white." Let me also explain that we have rather complex crown moulding framing the stuccoed ceiling, making painting nearly akin in needed time and expertise to completing a PhD in particle physics. She wanted something "bright and cheerful, like a nice sunshine-pumpkin. Oh and blue trim." I really had no idea what I wanted other than not to paint the living room sunshine-pumpkin with blue trim. Needless to say:

And I should have known from the start. Why, I wonder, didn't I realize sooner the way the wind was blowing and just paint the darn thing, rather than creating relationship strife to the tune of then also needing to put a skylight in the upstairs bedroom? I needed an equation—something along the lines of "Is she really serious about that home improvement project?"

I thought, though, that before getting to this one, I would look at some more fundamental equations that govern marriage. In the equations below, the first is based on solid statistics—an 11,000-person study by the CDC that explored factors that help and hurt a marriage's chances of working (for example, they found that if a woman is married before age 24, her chances of staying married for 15 years decreased by 30%). These statistics were easy to write in math terms, and the equation does fairly accurately predict your chances of being married at time "T". Granted there are other factors that might help or hurt your specific marriage, but the CDC study found that, for most people, these are the biggest factors. Remember that the average for all marriages is only about 50% and if you get a low number, please accept my very best wishes in bucking the odds.

The other two ("should we get married" and "how many kids should we have") are a bit more shoot-from-the-hip. With this kind of equation, I try to make the math match common sense. If you put in honest numbers, they return honest answers, but they're not quite as scientific as the first.

So, good luck, have fun, and check out posts deeper in the blog for additional marriage-relevant equations.

A= Her age at time of marriage

E=Current combined years of post-high-school education

K= Number of kids from this marriage

R= How religious is the couple (1-10 with 10 being “the Pope”)

D= Combined number of divorces of couple’s parents

P= Combined previous marriages

T= Years at which you are computing the chances

H.e.a. stands for “Happily Ever After” and is the percent chance you will still be married at time “T”

How many kids should you have?

S= Your combined household salary

K= Combined, how many brothers and sisters do you and your spouse have (include yourselves in this number)

T= Combined hours per week you and your significant other work outside the house

A= On a scale from 1-10, the highest level of aversion you have to any of the following: Changing diapers, sleep deprivation, visiting in-laws, tantrums

E= On a scale from 1-10, how concerned are you about global overpopulation

Kids, of course, is the number of kids that your lifestyle supports.

E=Current combined years of post-high-school education

K= Number of kids from this marriage

R= How religious is the couple (1-10 with 10 being “the Pope”)

D= Combined number of divorces of couple’s parents

P= Combined previous marriages

T= Years at which you are computing the chances

H.e.a. stands for “Happily Ever After” and is the percent chance you will still be married at time “T”

Should we get married?

T= How many years have you been dating?

L= The number of times per day that something makes you think of this person

C= If your families got together for a holiday dinner, the estimated number of times there would be uncomfortable friction

S= How many shared interests and/or goals do you two have?

A= How many individual or conflicting interests and/or goals do you two have?

D= The average number of disagreements you have with this person in a month

If Ttk is above one, you should tie the knot

L= The number of times per day that something makes you think of this person

C= If your families got together for a holiday dinner, the estimated number of times there would be uncomfortable friction

S= How many shared interests and/or goals do you two have?

A= How many individual or conflicting interests and/or goals do you two have?

D= The average number of disagreements you have with this person in a month

If Ttk is above one, you should tie the knot

How many kids should you have?

S= Your combined household salary

K= Combined, how many brothers and sisters do you and your spouse have (include yourselves in this number)

T= Combined hours per week you and your significant other work outside the house

A= On a scale from 1-10, the highest level of aversion you have to any of the following: Changing diapers, sleep deprivation, visiting in-laws, tantrums

E= On a scale from 1-10, how concerned are you about global overpopulation

Kids, of course, is the number of kids that your lifestyle supports.