There will come a time when we are ready, or rather, feel ready to tie the knot with our partner (boyfriend/girlfriend). Someone once asked me, “What age is right?“. There is no right or wrong age for marriage. More like, are you ready to share your personal life space, which you have enjoyed singly and happily all these years? It will no longer be just you but more like “US” now. That’ll be your new status, which comes with huge responsibilities.
There are people in the world who married for what I’d like to call, for the wrong reasons. Something like, transfer responsibilities to another person, out of loneliness, for wealth or status, for business prospect, for convenience, or simply “because my friends are married, so would I”. Is that good enough reason to get married? Would that form a firm foundation to build a marriage on?
Just couple of weeks ago, I had a lovely chat with a dear friend. She was first my physician then we became good friends, for more than 15 years! She has adult daughters, all are working or studying overseas. This wonderful lady has travelled to most part of the world and knows how to enjoy her life! She is able to balance her career, family and vacations with girlfriends so well.
She told me, as she would her daughters, that marriage is about growing together. About being a better person as you grow together. About being compassionate, unselfish, considerate, patient, ability to compromise, to think of others before ourselves….what she’s getting at is that when we get married, we learn to grow together and live harmoniously. It is a lot of hard work since two people are of different minds and characters. It takes time to achieve a pattern in which both can move together as one, in harmony.
Of course, at first it is all about the lovey dovey stuffs. Reality is, lovey dovey doesn’t last. May I say, usually, from courting time to shortly after marriage. So, don’t get your hopes up or you’ll be in for a great disappointment. The first year is tough for those couples who have not lived together prior to the wedding. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for those who have lived together before. After the fairy tale wedding reception and honeymoon are over, you’ll soon return to the real world. Like I said before, it is no longer about YOU but US. US is not confined to just you and your partner but your partner’s family too. True that you married your partner, not his/her family. Fact is, without the parents, you don’t get your partner, right? I’m afraid they come as an extended package. If you draw a thick hard-line to separate them, you’ll soon discover one of the reasons to your near future grievances would be this important issue, the in-laws. So, thread carefully on this sensitive issue. If you are mindful, you can have a pleasant relationship with all concerned. Take a step back and you might win two steps forward.
What about the lovey dovey stuff, you ask? It’ll come back after you’ve learnt to grow your relationship and love for each other. It takes time. To some young couples, during the first year of marriage, there will be new addition to the family. As they grow their little family, couples can’t quite find time for each other. Simply because, a lot of energy and time are spent on caring for their children. At the end of the day, both would be drained. During such time, arguments may break out often, for lack of attention, understanding, disappearing romance, etc. I believe many married couples with young children go through this tough phase. Stick together for support, talk it out and have lots of patience. As the children get older, their level of dependence on you will get lower and thus, you’ll have slightly more time on your side to rekindle the romance.
Next month, we’ll be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. These 17 years are not all bed of roses. There were laughter and tears in them, which I cherished. There were ups and rock-bottom down, which I learnt that nothing stays the same forever. The wise person who created the marriage vow knows his/her stuff very well. In health and sickness, for richer and poorer, etc. Just as my wonderful friend said before, marriage is about growing together. It is challenging and adjustments have to be made all the time to keep up with life’s tempo. Challenging because we both come from different backgrounds with different characteristics. We learnt that our upbringing plays an important role on how we think, the way we see and do things.
It took us 16 years to finally really experience the lovey dovey stuffs and understand that marriage is all about growing together. I won’t call it a return of lovey dovey as we had a very short courtship. I had no intention to get married but at that time, it felt right with him (dear hubby). Our first year was almost-hell (sorry Darling, for the description), as we try to find a way to live with each other. Fortunately, we took time to get to know each other before growing a little family of our own. Now, I can happily say that we have come a long long way and we have learnt not only to tango, but to waltz too, to life tunes. We’ve made quite a great team together. Of course, life challenges doesn’t stop here.
It takes time (years) to reach to this phase, which we discovered last year. There is hope for such deep and special love in a marriage after all. Such love and feelings aren’t the same as the young love. It is deeper than that. It makes your heart swell. When you smile it brightens up your inner self which brings a special glow to your face. You feel it deep down in your heart right down to your tingling toes. Whatever action you choose to make, it is out of respect and love for the other half, not fear. It’s difficult to describe…you’ll have to experience it to know it. We have just found it so it’s new to us. I trust we must continue to work on it to make it last.
If you haven’t got to this stage yet, be patient. Keep working on your marriage. Don’t give up on it. Don’t give up on romance. You have to do all the works, like laying the foundation, like planting a tree. It takes years maybe because, as the children grow older, couples will have more and more time for each other. You have to grab the chance as it shows up. Create opportunities for romance. Make your partner feels good/wonderful when in your company. You have to feel good first, of course! Fill you heart with love, compassion and forgiveness. Look at the positive side in everything. When faced with unpleasant things or if you are upset, do speak up to make your partner understand.
It is alright to argue, but not all the times though. Arguments bring couples closer if you know how to compromise at the end of it. Once an issue is settled, erase from the memory. It’s history. Don’t bring it all up again and again. It’s depressing for all and won’t do any good to the relationship anyway. Ego has no place in any marriage. Marriage provides a safe haven for you to be weak without making you feel any less about yourself.
Marriage takes a lot of continuous hard work, compromise and patience. Life is about give and take. It is not about sacrifice. When you do things out of sacrifice, over time, you’ll feel bitter, used and unhappy. It is an irritating thorn to any marriage. I’ve heard many people telling me about their sacrifices in their marriages, spoken with despite and sadness. They felt trapped in their own marriages. It’s not about sacrifices but about making choices which work reasonably well for both of you.
So, if you are planning to get married, make sure you marry for the right reasons. To some, being single is better than married, especially so when you are not willing share your personal space. To those who are into it, may I wish you all the best….don’t give up so easily when you have been doing the right thing all along. Engage your partner on your thoughts and actions. Remember that we are no mind readers. Have common goals to ensure that your marriage works. Communication is as important as compromise. If you “fight”, fight for the marriage to win. Not individual victory.
Here’s to a wonderful life experience!
~ Alice N.