Let me say upfront that I am not the kind of woman that gushes over romantic films or books.
I am not romantic in the way most people define romance because true life has nothing in common with the rose tinted glasses most romantics wear.
I am, however, a sucker for blues, my baby making love songs and I absolutely love it when two people fall in love. I believe in the institution of marriage, in love, friendship, commitment, compassion and sacrifice. As far as I am concerned, these values represent true love and I acknowledge the fact that many people have found this kind of love and are living happily together.
I also make bold to say that I do not have anything against divorce except that it should be a last resort after all efforts to try to save the marriage has failed. I believe that as much as it lies within the couple especially where children are involved, they should be at the very least, cordial to one another.
Marriage is a serious institution and it needs to be entered into with one’s eyes open wide. Our choice as to the person we marry is important and it affects every facet of our lives. It is a decision that should be made after weighing so many factors and forecasting several scenarios.
A lot of us get married for reasons mostly based on external factors such as – looks, dress sense, comportment and for benefits like security, good family background, social connections, good sex etc and whilst these factors are important and should be considered, many of us find out a bit too late that we chose them to the detriment of what really matters to us- the sense of well being, fulfillment, friendship, shared values, common goals etc.
If you are like me, you most probably got married thinking it will be a continuation of the kind of happy courtship you had. I couldn’t fathom why people thought marriage was such a big deal until I got into it. I thought if I played my part and my partner played his, everything would work out right but we couldn’t have known, could we, of the many twists and turns life would take and how they would affect us individually and collectively as a couple.
So now, when I attend weddings the thought that often comes into my mind is what does the future hold for these two? Will they be able to bear it, will it destroy them or make them stronger? How long will it take them to discover things they didn’t know existed in themselves or in the other partner?
A lot of people go into marriage thinking it is a highway to heaven and that because they are married, they will be happy and live happily ever after. This delusion has been bought by the younger generation and I dare say it’s the reason we are seeing so many divorces nowadays. People are turning up in court citing the most ridiculous reasons for wanting out of the marriage.
A study of the personalities involved mostly show a lack of commitment to the working of the marriage, an undue attention to self and selfish desires, a reluctance to be responsible for their actions and a denial of responsibility for anyone other than themselves.
There is the need to inform the younger generation that marriage was never designed to make us happy, at least, not until we have put some work into it. They need to see that it is a “give and take” relationship and that you must give before you take. That no one can make them happy and that they must first find joy and self acceptance for themselves before demanding it from another.
They need to know that they will be called upon to sacrifice of themselves and show commitment to the well being of the other, often, at their own expense. They need to know that their spouses will never be perfect and that even after spending so many years with someone , they will not like everything about them and vice versa.
Marriage is heart work and hard work and it brings both joy and pain and we must stress to them the fact that no two marriages are alike, that what constitutes a successful marriage is what the two parties consider it to be ( not what the marriage counselor insists it is) and that their marriages do not have to be like that of their parents, pastors, friends and relatives to be successful.
I also think that they need to know what constitutes a deal breaker for them and that sometimes no matter what they do the marriage will go south and that if it does they must consider what really matters to them – the status of being married or their peace of mind.
I say this because I have seen people in their 70s and 80s who regret being in their marriages, who feel in their old age that it was not worth sacrificing their happiness.
They feel resentful towards their partners, have nothing in common and have nothing to look forward to with them.
I heard of a couple in their late 70s who had separate pots, irons , blenders etc whilst living in the same house because they had both contributed towards the building of the house and no one was prepared to leave for the other. After several years of living as co-tenants, they finally shared the land on which they built their property and the man built himself another building on his own part of the land.
The above story is quite extreme but there are marriages where the couple are suspicious of one another, resent and dislike each other, live totally separate lives and do not have any type of intimacy at all.
There are marriages ilthat exist only in name where emotional blackmailing, body shaming and emotional /physical abuse is the order of the day.
I have discovered that a lot of those in these situations stay in the marriage even though they are terribly unsuited for one another but because of the need to fit in with society and the hope that things would turn out for the better someday, they remain together.
The sad reality, is that many times the situation never improves and invariably starts to affect at least one party for the worse.
I believe that there is no greater emotional torture than living with a person that you cannot be yourself with, someone with whom you must watch your back at all times, someone who despises you and rejects all that you represent.
In the final analysis, the truth is that a marriage is not a guarantee to happiness and that leaving a failed marriage will not prevent anyone from getting to heaven, which is our ultimate destination at the end of life!