With a headline like that, one can’t help but be curious, as was I. In a recent study from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, researchers took zebra finches, which choose mates for life and paired them up at random to see what the results might be. Here are results condensed (or should I say “on the fly”?!

The new pairs [zebra finches] were put in individual cages for a few months to enable them to bond. Both the control group and the arranged pairs were left to breed for five months in cages shared by three pairs, while the team studied their breeding success. The number of surviving chicks was 37 per cent higher in pairs who chose their own mate. In the arranged pairs, three times as many eggs were unfertilized, more eggs were buried or lost, and more chicks died after hatching. Males in these partnerships also attended the nest less diligently while the eggs were hatching, when chicks are most vulnerable. Unsurprisingly perhaps, females were less willing to mate with males they hadn’t chosen, and the males were more likely to look for new partners. See entire article at

Interesting. So, are you contemplating what it takes to make a marriage work or the pros and cons of divorce? Not sure the finches have much to say about THAT but the fact that they routinely mate for life might raise issues of compatibility and the process of choosing. While these bird-loving researches ended up not being very good matchmaking friends, it does raise the question of a friend’s influence in our choices and thought processes.

Friends — we value what they say, we devalue what they say. And reflective of the finch study, our friendships are not a result of random, even feckless thought but of careful contemplation and compatibility (is this a good place to interject the obvious, “birds of a feather flock together” line?!). With two-thirds of relationships ending in divorce, what are the elements that influence us to make decisions about our partners or for that matter any meaningful decision? What is the role of our friends? How much should we listen to them?

DON’T listen to your friends.

Love may or may not be blind but it can be blurred by shades. THEY can’t see what YOU can. To be fair, your friends don’t know what you know, because they haven’t committed the time to discovery and development of the relationship. They haven’t been an audience to the public walks, private talks and precious moments when the stars aligned and the two of you were one with the cosmos. All THEY see is a polished even packaged presentation behaving and usually being socially impressive. They can’t see into the heart that YOU’VE been given access. So naturally they will be cautious, calculating, even critical, either because they care about your partner or because they see a possible red flag. If they are wrong they’ll have plenty of time later to commend you on your choice.

Be glad you have people in your life that WILL be honest and tell you EXACTLY how they feel (even if you don’t ask). If anything, it may give you input to consider or an opportunity for reconsideration. Don’t discount their input, but don’t make a full deposit on their advice alone. You’re pretty smart — aren’t you?

DO listen to your friends

Okay, one of us needs to make up their mind. DON’T or DO listen to your friends? I think it’s both. An often-quoted verse in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3) says “There is a time for everything”. Or, as the 1967 #1 hit by Harpers Bizarre said, “Anything Goes”. Meaning, there are times to consider what are friends are saying and times to pat them on the head.

Since love IS blind at SOME levels, someone who is standing back may have a better focus, certainly a different focus that may be beneficial, even crucial. It’s more like a “can’t see the trees for the forest” thing as opposed to not seeing the forest for the trees. Does that make sense? Consider that we are more loving, more tolerant, more forgiving of people we love and accept (and if you marry them you’ll have the rest of your life to find fault)!

Just saying, if one very close, well-adjusted friend raises some concern, or better yet two or more, that’s an indication that you might want to at least step back and get some focus. Matter of fact, a half-hearted, highly opinionated friend or acquaintance might surprise you with input you hadn’t considered. It may be because they have nothing invested so they don’t have to weigh their words or consider your feelings. THEY JUST CALL ‘EM LIKE THEY SEE ‘EM! Referees are good — important. Game-changers.

A Bird Quote

American author, educator, and clergyman Henry Van Dyke once said, “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” One of the most invaluable resources may be one of the most overlooked. Let them sing. Let them sing to us and into our lives whatever song they want. And even if you don’t like the song, appreciate the singing!

Dr. Jay Banks, author, educator and entertainer Tweets, Facebooks, YouTubes and Googles. Would love to hear your comments on Facebook.

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