‘The Marriage Test’ Helps Couples Decide If They’re Compatible

This couple developed a 40-date challenge to see if they'd work well as a married couple, then turned it into a book.

The marriage test

Jill Andres and Brook Silva-Braga. Photo provided

What are you and your partner doing for Valentine’s Day? Probably not trading credit cards, recording your fights, or pretending you have a newborn.

Over the course of a year, Brook Silva-Braga and Jill Andres completed each of those “dates,” and 37 equally difficult others. Granted, they weren’t doing it for a romantic evening—they did it to decide, after years of dating, whether they’d be compatible as a married couple.

“The things that are tough about marriage, like sharing finances or raising kids, you don’t usually face when you’re dating,” Andres says. “We wanted to be sure about each other; we didn’t want to just hope for the best or cross our fingers.”

So the now-hitched couple came up with 40 dates that would simulate the tough parts of marriage, to see how they fared. The results were the fodder for their new book, The Marriage Test.

While some dates, such as living on half of their typical monthly budget, were a strain, both halves of the couple say the test made them stronger. They even duplicated one challenge—trying something new in the bedroom every day for a week—after the experiment was over.

“There were only probably one or two moments in the whole year where we actually questioned whether we should be together,” Silva-Braga says, “and when we stepped back from those moments, we were happy to have them and get past them and feel more confident at the end of them.”

Want to try a similar test here in Boston, where Andres, a business consultant, and Silva-Braga, a journalist, first met? Here are a few date suggestions:

Facing Your Fears: With help from the other, Andres tried skydiving and Silva-Braga tried scuba diving. Coax your partner into facing a fear at indoor skydiving in New Hampshire, trapeze class in Somerville, or the Skywalk Observatory.

House Hunting: “We went looking for our dream home, and learned in the process we had different things in mind,” Silva-Braga says. Call a realtor and try it yourself.

Borrowing a Baby: The couple tested out child rearing by borrowing a friend’s baby for the day. (“The offer of free babysitting made it shockingly easy to procure a kid,” Silva-Braga says.) Take a pal’s child to the Children’s Museum or the Common.

Quiz Time: The duo learned about something important to the other, then submitted to a quiz on that subject. You’re a Bruins fan, but your partner loves the Boston Ballet? Perfect. 

Lunch with an Ex: Yes, it’ll be awkward. But it’s time to man up, call your significant other’s ex, and make a reservation at Stephanie’s.