Have you ever imagined walking up to those young couples, happily flipping through oversized albums at bridal fairs, to advise them that marriage is not just the diamond ring, platinum wedding band, grand reception and the much-envied honeymoon. If you have that kind of “crazy” thought, you are not weird or alone. Many of us thought of it, but without any bad intention, of course. Those who have/had been married will testify that marriage is no child’s play. Nor is it a fairy tale in which the handsome prince came asking for the hand of the beautiful maiden, and then took her to his grand palace, living happily ever after.
People marry for various reasons. If one marries for material wealth or social status, once all the glitz have settled, the ones who live in the “glass palace”, may discover that life is not as what it seems to be. Those who married for love, will find that it will be tested with time. For some who married under pressure (parents’ demand, age factor, for convenience), you’ll have to continuously seek common grounds to live by. All in all, whichever way you take to arrive at the altar, what really matters is the day after the champagne and music, then days and years following that. Nothing remains constant in life. Change is inevitable, therefore, marriage in itself, involves not just hard work but continuous “heart-work” to keep up with the changes.
Most marriages fell apart when they couldn’t withstand the stress of frequent arguments. Arguments about finances. Money isn’t everything but we know the significant role it plays in our daily lives. If a family has insufficient money to go around, you are left with little or no choice at all. When that happens, lack of security seeps into every corner of your life. There are mouths to feed, debts to be paid (mortgage, car loans, credit cards, etc) and the day-to-day maintenance of the household. For those with children, the expenses become much higher. Paying the nanny, milk and diapers, school fees, school needs, tutorials, extra-curricular activities, pocket-money, etc. Many couples can tell you that most arguments stem from money.
The other causes are infidelity, lack of communication and attention, in-laws, inability to compromise, critical spouse, domestic (physical and/or verbal) abuse, bad habits (addiction, gambling, etc), so on and so forth. I am not a marriage counsellor nor am I qualified to give professional advice for a happy marriage or to rescue a failing marriage. All I know is that, whatever problems one faces, to always identify the root of the problem and treat it at source, as soon as possible. If one goes around the problem and starts the blaming game, there is no end to it and the longer the problems brew, the further you head towards the point of no return. Then, one fine day, it just snapped and one of you might just decide to throw in the towel and call it quit. Many people take the easy way out without giving the marriage a good chance to heal.
Today, many marriages ended up in courts. Sadly, the rate of divorce in the world is increasing. As a result of that, not only the adults suffered from the act of dissolution of marriage but worse, the children too! Some ended up with ugly public quarrels but there are some which ended amicably. No matter how it ended, it inevitably left permanent emotional scars in the lives of the children from these broken marriages. Children are innocent. Don’t get them involved in adults’ problems by using them to hurt each other. Many people take the easy way out without giving the marriage a good chance to heal. Everything can be worked out if both of you put enough effort into it. If you had done your very best, yet the marriage is beyond repair, you may choose to go separate ways to keep your sanity and save the last bit of decency. Whatever you decide to do, just don’t stop loving,caring and providing for your children. There are divorced couples who maintain a good relationship with their ex and continue to play an active role in their children’s lives!
That brings me back to the reason why one gets married in the first place. When a marriage is built on the right “ingredients”, it has the capability to provide financial security, love and understanding, common goals in life, shared belief and values, full commitment, responsibility towards your family, communication, and the flexibility to compromise. If you have come to a point where you are clueless about what you in for, try revisiting your marriage vows and recall how on earth did you end up choosing this person, out of so many people on the streets, to be your life partner! This person whom you feel you can’t live without and with whom you want to share your life and dreams.
We all know that marriage is a lifelong commitment, till death do us part. No one would marry with any plan for divorce. It is a partnership, what one does, it may have immediate and opposite effect on another or the others in it (spouse and children). It is an Emotional Bank. Depending on what you deposit into it everyday; what you feed will be what you get in return. Therefore, choose to have positive deposits. Be kinder to your partner, shower him/her with love and affection, invest quality time in it, communicate so that you both continue to share the same goals, whisper good words into his/her ear, make or give little pleasant surprises once in a while, be more forgiving, and you’ll be a happier person in a happier marriage.
There is no place for EGO in any loving and respectful marriage. If you bring your ego into the marriage, it will happily occupy a space between you and your spouse. The space will become wider as your ego grows bigger. If you focus on winning every argument, you’ll end up hurting the one you love and yourself as no one wins when you fight for personal victory. There is no master-servant relationship in a loving relationship. Mutual respect must exist in a marriage. Respect is not about how much money one brings home. Respect is the recognition of each person’s contribution to the wellbeing of the family, material and immaterial. There is this misconception by some couples that, the one who brings home the more money shall be put on a pedestal.
Someone once advised me that, “if you don’t have any good to say to another, just keep your mouth shut”. When we speak positively, we generate positive energy to people around us. When we are positive, we are happier. Happier people will attract others to them because almost everyone wants to be in their companies. What could be more attractive than to be a positive person to your spouse? Imagine, putting a smile on your face when you see your spouse as opposed to scowling when you see him/her. Be more sensitive to your partner’s feelings. If you have better suggestions for improvement, do so kindly. We can be kind and pleasant to our friends, why not we do the same, if not better, to the person who meant so much to us?
Last but not least, marriage is how we built it and live it. You both started it. Make sure you take great care of it. It is a lifetime commitment and other people’s lives and happiness, besides yours are involved. Marriage is about partnership of equal share. Both must work on it to make it last. I wish you all the best!
~ Alice N.