Marriage. A word that has become dreaded in this generation. Everywhere you turn, people have stories to tell or fears to express about marriage. The single are shying away more and more from marriage. The married are crying, separating and divorcing more than ever. The first question that we might ask is, How did we get to this point?
First, I am not one of those who believe that marriage is for everybody. If you have chosen to stay away from marriage, you have made a good choice. I have no issues with that. As a matter of fact, I have encouraged certain people in that decision.
Having counselled people about relationships for almost two decades, and having been married for over one, I have given a lot of thought to the subject of marriage. I have had the privilege of information from other people’s marriages. I must also warn you that I am not conformist in any way, so the thoughts that I will share here will not be what you have been used to hearing.
The first thing I want to point out is this generation’s silly attitude of throwing away every legacy of generations past. Somehow, in the name of modernisation, we think that we are smarter than our grandfathers were. So, we paint their beliefs black and then fashion for ourselves new ones.
The first step in solving problems is to acknowledge the problems and the issues involved.
Marrying For Other Reasons But Love
I read a lot about love these days. Everyone seems to know what love is and what it is not, and almost no-one seems to have found it. Heartbreaks everywhere. Perhaps that is because our fantasy definitions of love do not really exist. Almost everyone who is in search of unconditional love is not ready to give it. We want someone who will accept us as we are, warts and all, yet when our partners display their own warts, we get all up and riled. Who is fooling who?
Basically, when someone says he wants to marry for love, what he really means is that he wants to marry to be loved (read: to be accepted without having to accept anything). Full stop. It goes same for both genders.
Now, if we have established that this love that we are all chasing does not exist, does it not make sense to explore the option of marrying for other reasons other than love? Preposterous? Not quite. Look around you: many who marry for love are either unhappy or already separated anyway. How potent is this love-motivated marriage then?
In many cultures, long, long ago, people married for duty and for honour. Duty and honour seem quite potent compared to this elusive love that the 21st century person chases. How about marrying for security? Don’t balk. Most people marry for selfish reasons already anyway. It is mostly self interest. They just don’t admit it. No? So, how about removing the facade and just saying it as it is?
Also, families with similar interests forged marriage bonds. See that word “interests”? That is key. At the end of the day, people pursue similar interests – in business and for socialising. Shared interests can be a powerful binding force. The history of man is replete with this. Marriages built on shared personal, family, business or community interests can be strong. No; of course, they are not infallible either. But the point is this, can we stop fooling ourselves in thinking that this elusive love should be the only valid motivation for marriage?
As I have always told people who care to listen: love is not enough. We all know it deep down, but refuse to acknowledge it. Perhaps we should focus more on other interests as primary motivation for marriage, and then just love whoever the recruitment process throws up.
Once we begin to look at marriage based on other reasons besides love, the subject of arranged or fixed marriages pops up soon enough, so let’s just go there right away. It might sound crazy to you, but I have had young people in their twenties who have gone through heartbreak after heartbreak finally ask me, “It looks like I am a poor judge in matters of the heart. Would it be a bad idea to trust my parents to pick a spouse for me?” Every time that happens, I smile, knowing that those individuals have broken a barrier in their quest.
This generation of young people generally frowns at parents picking a spouse for them, yet the evidence before us suggests that many individuals are unable to make good choices for themselves, or live with the consequences of their choices. What would then be wrong in depending on the better wisdom and judgement of someone you trust?
Another great taboo of our day is polygamy. Almost everyone paints this time-honoured form of marriage as a no-go area.
If the rashness of this generation is anything to go by, the grandparents of many of us must have been fools. Many of the Bible’s patriarchs (all of them men who were close to God) must have been idiots too. I find it amusing that the organised Church keeps teaching that polygamy is a sin, when in actual fact the Bible teaches no such thing. But then, the organised Church teaches many odd, un-Biblical things anyway.
I have listened to all the arguments against polygamy, and none of them hold water. All the arguments are plain biases. We all have seen polygamous homes that have lasted through the years, and monogamous unions that failed in 3 months. Yes; polygamy has its issues, just like monogamy does. It is my belief that what path an individual chooses is entirely their prerogative.
We all know the problems associated with long-distance relationships; don’t we? Yet people still engage in it. Choice. We know the problems associated with long courtship; don’t we? Yet, some people still go down that road. Choice.
Heck, We all know the problems associated with marriage itself, yet most people still want to get married. Choice.
So, the issue is not that a particular model has this or that problems. Humanity has never stayed away from anything because it poses problems. People still fly despite the issues associated with flying. People still sail till today. Why the hypocrisy around polygamy?
And to the liberal, non-religious folks, especially those goody-two-shoes activist types, I find it hypocritical that many of you fight for the rights of an individual to be married to someone of the same sex, but tear down the right of a woman to choose to be a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th wife, and the rights of a man to decide how many wives he wants.
Rather odd, this generation. We change the rules as they please our fancies.
What Do Women Want?
Now, ladies who know me know that I am not sexist. I love the ladies. But this has to be said, You ladies need to decide what you want and stop confusing men.
Examples: You say that men and women must be equal partners in marriage, but then you turn around to say that you want a strong man who can take the lead. That is very, very confusing, and sounds like you are confused too. The two of you may be partners, but one must be the senior partner. Imagine co-equal pilots on an airplane. Nah. There is a pilot, and then a co-pilot. What do you need a strong man who can take the lead for if you won’t acknowledge his leadership?
I honestly think that some ladies are confused and need to sort that out quickly. That your husband is leader in the marriage union does not make you unequal to him. It just makes him the leader. However, if you still disagree with that leadership thing, then please, don’t expect a “strong man who can take the lead”. Whatever it is that you want, just clarify it.
Again, I hear ladies complain that chivalry is dead. But you are the ones saying that what a man can do, a woman can do better (which, like a number of other modern cliches, I consider bollocks, anyway), and if you demand to be treated like a man, why should men act chivalrous? The need for chivalry is thus eliminated. Do carry your own bag, don’t expect doors to be opened for you, and let’s carry on like we are the same.
The reality is that men and women are not the same (I’m not referring to equality as humans now). We are built differently, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Attempting to wipe out those differences can only result in the sort of chaos that we see today.
None of the options that I have mentioned in this article are fool-proof. I am not asking everyone to adopt them wholesale. The point I am making is that throwing out some of these ideas is costing some people what could be rich and rewarding marriages.
I am saying that choice is good. People should be able to explore whatever options are available to them for marriage without the fear of being stigmatised and insulted, as this generation loves to do. I dare-say that we are not as smart as we think that we are. Just look at the heartbreaks before marriage, and the heartbreaks in marriage, the separations and the divorce rates, and that picture should tell anyone that this generation hasn’t been as smart as we like to think.
None of the things that I have raised in this article are new to the human race. They are all well-established and accepted practices from ages ago that modern society wants to throw away all in the name of love – and look how well this intoxicating love has helped us. Many of us claim to be open-minded, when in reality our thinking processes are locked down and very narrow-minded. Oh, and there’s a lot of hypocrisy involved too.
There, I have attempted to convey some of my thoughts on the subject of marriage in this rather long article. I hope that they have been expressed as clearly as I would love to have them. If not, I apologise upfront. I expect lots of comments, especially rants and innuendos. Do feel free to express your opinions, as I have expressed mine.