Month: June 2014

Marriage Part II – The wrong reasons for taking the plunge…

no marriage 2 Welcome back to the ‘Marriage Chronicles!’

 

Its been great hearing your thoughts and stories on these issues via the comments and emails received after publishing “Marriage Part 1 : The Single Perspective.” Your feedback spurred me on to keep writing and addressing the things which are both relevant and helpful on this blog. And in this particular case, the Marriage vs Single-hood dichotomy.

All over the world, regardless of which culture you look at, Marriage is a big deal. It is viewed and celebrated as a rite of passage of some sort; a transition from one phase of life to another. And like all other transitions, some are smooth while others are rocky, depending on both the motive and the circumstances surrounding it.

The fact that weddings are so in vogue these days definitely means folks are making this ‘transition’ in droves. But also in vogue are miserable marriages. Without trying to rain on anyone’s parade, if statistics are anything to go by, this means for every 5 happy marriages, 5 equally aren’t so.  In the last article I discussed how marrying in immaturity and marrying for the wrong reasons can lead to some pretty disastrous ends. The ones that make up the latter 5 of that statistic. We’ll talk about the Happy 5 later, but for those who’ve already made a ‘rocky transition’ that has led to a miserable outcome, I pray that you find the courage to let go of the shame that may be causing you to suffer in silence, and get the help you need. (And this refers to both men and women.)

While for those who are yet to take this step, know that Marriage in all of God’s original intents and purposes, is a good thing. And it can be a true blessing to those in it when done right. But that is only possible when those involved truly love each other, have similar values and beliefs and are ultimately pursuing the same ends in life. “For how can two walk together unless they agree?”  Agree in Purpose, agree in Passion, agree in Personality and agree in Pursuits. While it is true that you will not find a perfect person, you can however, find someone who is perfect FOR YOU, in all the areas that really matter. Because your life and happiness (beyond the wedding) depend on it.

If you’re heading toward the altar, I sincerely hope that if any of the scenarios below apply to you, your eyes will be opened to the fact that you may need to re-think your steps, or better yet stop in your tracks and make some good decisions.

Please don’t get married because : –

  • All of your friends are getting married. Believe it or not, you did not leave peer-pressure behind in high school. Yes indeed, there does seem to be an epidemic of weddings going around and it’s not uncommon to find you’re the only one left standing among all of your friends. It can be an awkward phase where you feel left out and such, but it is not reason enough to get married. Do realize that everyone has their own race to run and reaches certain milestones at different times/stages of life. Be content to stay in your own lane, running at your own pace as opposed to trying to catch up with everyone else. They may ‘appear’ ahead in some areas but may be behind in others. No two people are at exactly the same point, at the same time. Remember that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to them all. And besides, better to be the last one standing, than the first one to fall, right?
  • The family (and society) say its time. The people who are close and constantly around us, particularly family, tend to have a big impact on our lives. And because of their huge input from when we were young, their reach sometimes gets over-extended. While being appreciative of their love and concern, make sure their opinions and strong suggestions remain exactly that, and the voice of your own heart is not drowned out. Don’t be bullied or even shamed into making a decision that will cost you your happiness. The family and ‘society’ will not be there when you are miserable and finding solace in a bar or crying yourself to sleep every night. They would have eaten the food you paid for at the wedding, gotten entertained and danced themselves to their homes leaving you with the reality of your decision. A reality which is only beautiful if it was the right decision, and ultimately your own. Do not play to the gallery
  • You’re desperate (usually because you’ve hit a certain age). Again, most societies perpetuate the idea that you are not complete without being married, and normally the magic number/age by which this must be done is somewhere between 23 and 28. This often then leads to feelings of loneliness and desperation when one reaches (and/or passes ) the higher of those two numbers without managing to become ‘complete.’  Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to become desperate because this has never been known to be a precursor of good decisions. With clouded judgement, you’ll end up picking just anyone. Even those you’d previously disqualified for good reason start to look appealing because your lenses have now changed. Remain focused on growing and developing the remaining areas of your life and you will have no time to become desperate. If marriage is all you’re living and waiting for, then even when it does happen you may end up sorely disappointed when it, and the equally flawed human being you’re marrying fails to deliver the meaning and purpose you are actually lacking or searching for. Do not marry out of panic.
  • You’ve been dating for a long time/You owe it to them. While it is important to take your time to get to know someone as best as you can before committing your life to them, I do not believe that this is a process that should take decades. Time is a precious commodity and everyone has only been given a limited amount, so the sooner it is determined whether the candidate needs to be hired or fired the better for everyone involved. Don’t waste someone’s time and lead them on when you either don’t share their affections, have less than honourable intentions, are not in it for the long-haul or have no willingness or capacity to deliver on your promises, or their expectations. Remember the Golden Rule here, and this applies to both men and women. However, if you’ve found yourself in a situation where 3 years in, you’re nowhere near ‘the next step’ don’t go ahead just because you feel you’ve already invested this much time, money, etc. Those are minor considerations compared to what it will cost you doing something that doesn’t feel right for the rest of your life. If this was someone you were sure you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, wouldn’t you be taking some steps by now? Somewhere at the back of your mind, there’s likely  some issue that is keeping you from taking things further. For others, maybe your behaviour has been less than stellar and this person has put up with you and your shenanigans for a while, or you were going through a phase when you were a ‘nobody’ and now you are ‘somebody’ and they were with you though it all etc. Know that this is not love, and feelings of obligation should never be the basis for marriage. Sooner or later when this feeling wears off, you’ll only be left with resentment towards that person when you start to feel trapped. Also know that you cannot reward a person’s good behaviour towards you by marrying them. There are some debts in life that you will never be able to repay, especially not by giving away your life and throwing away your future . Yes, they were there, but that was equally a choice on their part. They are as much responsible for them as you are for you. Apologise if you have to, thank them heartily and then move on.
  • It’s the next thing to do in life. This line of reasoning is mostly common in men, as they tend to have a mental list of ‘life-things’ they need to do in a particular order. Go to school. Get a good job. Buy a car. Depending on their income, maybe even buy a house. So the next step here seems to be ‘Get married,’ right? It doesn’t help when friends and family alike also start pointing out how ‘You already have everything else, so what are you waiting for?’  Again, as mentioned earlier, in point 2, don’t let internal or external pressure push you towards making a decision you are not ready for. Marriage shouldn’t be seen as fulfilling a fixture or checking an item off a to-do-list. But it is a living commitment which involves both the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of another person.  And until/unless one is already at the stage where they love someone enough and are ready to make their well-being a priority, then marriage cannot be the ‘next step in life.’

 

Read on to “Marriage  Part II – The wrong reasons for taking the plunge… (cont)” under the ‘Love and things’ tab at the top of the page, for more Wrong reasons for getting married. Its a lengthy read yes, but you’ll be better for it. Trust me 😉

Marriage Part II – The wrong reasons for taking the plunge… (cont)

no marriage 2

  • You want to be taken care of .  This is another common reason why people get married, and a wrong one at that. Both men and women do this even though they define the ‘care’ differently. However, at the core of marrying ‘to be taken care of’ is either a failure or unwillingness to take personal responsibility for one’s own life. Often these arrangements are characterised by large age, economic, social, spiritual and/or mental differences between the parties involved. Those who want to be taken care of Financially opt for marriage as a way out of poverty and thus turn their spouse into an ATM, instead of working hard for themselves. Those who are looking to be taken care of Emotionally latch on and become emotionally dependent on those they ‘love.’ Often smothering/suffocating them in the process. Those that fear decision making and being responsible for their own affairs quickly find someone who can be in charge and run their life for them while they remain a passenger or pursue fun things instead. Those who are shaky or non-commital in matters of faith find themselves ‘prayer warriors’ who will carry them on their back spiritually and so on. I’m sure you get the point. Marriage should be a union of two equals, or near equals who both have something to contribute to the relationship. Not a ‘rescuer’ and a ‘rescuee.’ Realize that the pressure to be one’s everything is too huge a burden to place on a fellow human being. Even though they may misguidedly even attempt to be this. Look to God and look to the helping hand that’s at the end of your own arm. What normally happens is when the rescuing is complete, or the capacity to ‘rescue’ is diminished, there will be nothing left to hold the marriage together. Consider the fact that bank accounts will not always stay filled, jobs aren’t always secure, health fails, emotions change, and all around life sometimes goes in directions we don’t anticipate. And if all your hopes and dreams lie in that one person, what happens when they die or they decide their happiness lies elsewhere? *gasp* A marriage built on materialism, co-dependency, escapism, lust or any other unhealthy foundation is like the famous house built on sand. When the wind blows, which it will, the marriage will definitely crumble. Best to examine yourself honestly and see what the real issue/need is and address that. Is it that you’re being lazy? Are you trying to live beyond your means? Do you need a maid to do your house chores? Do you need to grow a spine and own your life? The answer to these questions is definitely not a spouse but in taking personal responsibility and using the resources God’s already put in your hands to improve your life.
  • You want sex/You had sex. Yes indeed, there are some people who are motivated to marry/get married because of sex. They reason that marriage will give them both easy access as well as a steady supply of this ‘drug.’ It truly is the epitome of selfishness to want to use someone as a tool for merely satisfying ones physical desires while not being genuinely interested in the rest of who they are as a person. While this reasoning is more common in men, it is not totally absent in women either. And still on the ladies, just because you consented to jumping in the sack with him either once or repeatedly doesn’t mean he consented, or is even thinking about marrying you, or that he should. Sad to say for some people this is merely a biological transaction, and you run the risk of it amounting to nothing more every time you jump into bed with someone who is not your spouse. Please come to terms with this reality and wisen up accordingly. And besides that, the heights of emotional euphoria aren’t exactly the time to be making permanent life changing decisions. Judgement is impaired and when normalcy returns you may wake up to the realization that you married a stranger. In my opinion, this is why the ‘Abstinence ili che’ chorus needs to be sung louder and louder. Not just to prevent HIV, Pregnancy and the like. But to also prevent the advent of premature bonding which brings about a false sense of closeness in a relationship. A closeness which under normal circumstances is supposed to develop over time, by sharing life experiences and interacting in varied situations. If your ‘relationship’ is not solid enough to stand on its own, and the only time feelings of affection arise is when there is sex, then it is not a relationship you should be in. Rather than heading to the bed, head to the door and wait for a relationship that satisfies you as a whole person, and not just one area of your life.
  • You want to cover the ‘mistake’ of Pregnancy. Which is what pregnancy outside of wedlock is often referred to as. But you can’t correct one mistake by making another mistake. Folks reason that they are marrying for the sake of the child, but a loveless marriage will in no way enhance the happiness of the child. In fact, it may just raise them up to become dysfunctional in their own relationships from the poor example they will be seeing from their parents if their relationship is tumultuous. Yes, these arrangements do work out sometimes if the love was true and marriage was already on the cards. But folks shouldn’t head to the altar out of trying to ‘Do the right thing’ when someone falls pregnant. The ideal is that children be raised by both their parents, but sometimes this may not necessarily mean in the same home. At times it may be better to wait and find someone else who may truly be a father (or mother) to the child than settling for someone who just provided DNA while their heart was elsewhere. Do the ‘Right thing’ for that child, and for yourself. –
  • The biological clock is ticking. This is a very difficult one to navigate especially for those who are approaching the latter years of their fertility and face the prospect of not having biological children of their own. In a culture where it is almost paramount that one bears a child, and full honor is sometimes withheld from even the married but childless couples until they transition to parenthood, this indeed is difficult. The trade-off is usually, ‘Do I settle for whoever comes my way as long as I get the chance to bear children?’ or ‘Do I continue to wait for the ‘Right’ person even as the prospects become more grim with each passing year?’ Try to look beyond yourself and consider the life of the child you are dying to bear, and the impact of having the wrong person involved in their lives as their parent, or no parent at all if things don’t pan out as planned. Remember that it is not just about you and fulfilling your desire to bear children right this instant, but the greater consideration should be what this decision will have on the child for the rest of their life.
  • He or she loves you/They Asked you. While its important to marry someone who loves you, it is equally important that You love them just as much, before you commit to spending the rest of your life with them . Marriage is not a one way street where you will be the only recipient. The other person also has wants and needs that will need to be met, and this will be very difficult for you to pull off, if you do not love them. Even for the best of actors, there will be a point where you can’t just fake it. It is either you love them or you don’t, and marrying someone you do not love is not only unfair to them, but it is also unfair to you. Please don’t mistake yourself for a martyr and marry someone out of pity or some other unfortunate logic. The ending is never pretty. Secondly, this is mostly for the ladies, Don’t marry someone just because they asked you. A question normally has two answers. One in the positive and the other in the negative.  While in the moment it is easy to get swept away and distracted by this proposal you’ve been dying to receive , but don’t lose focus of the life that will be lived on the other side of the ‘Yes.’ A proposal shouldn’t be accepted just because it is given. If its not in line with your purpose, passion, personality and pursuits then the answer should be No.

To be concluded…

Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
Cale Yarborough

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