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 😉