Monthly Archives: July 2015

Marriage: Part 2

Just married couple, holding hands and walking in nature

 

“There’s something unique about her that made you choose her,” Mom told my cousin. “Maybe you feel she’s witty and she challenges you; gets you out of your shell. When a few years from now you feel like she’s the dumbest woman on earth, remember what you’re seeing in her now- when you’re so deeply in love with her, that you’re confident she’s the one you want to spend forever with.” Turning to his fiancée she added, “The same goes for you. Always remember what you saw in each other.”

She served that advice raw, unafraid of ruffling a few feathers. None of the other speakers had said it like she did, and a part of me thought they were afraid of stepping on some toes. Dad for instance; he looked visibly tense. And it wasn’t difficult to figure why. Then again, maybe they also didn’t know that; because looking around, I felt my parents’ relationship has been one of the most tumultuous and they’re still together.

Some of the people in that room were already separated from their spouses; they threw in the towel when it became too hard to bear. And that’s understandable, because from what I’ve gathered, marriage is no walk in the park. It’s no wonder marriage is now being termed a failing institution; most of those in, want out. For it to succeed, it needs two people who are committed to each other; people who understand that chances are there will be more tears and sorrow than there will be joy and laughter.

Marriage requires two people who understand that just because they have wedding bands on their fingers, they won’t stop finding other people attractive and chances are they will be so tempted to satiate those carnal desires. The only thing that wedding band/marriage certificate does is to remind the two that they’re already spoken for; that their wagons are stitched to someone else’s and that whatever they do will affect the other. This therefore should be a reminder for them to ward off other admirers because they won’t stop getting hit on simply because they exchanged ‘I dos”.

Marriage is not easy. It requires aligning of ideas and finding middle grounds so the two people in that relationship don’t fight everytime a decision needs to be made. Marriage requires that the two don’t plant their feet on the ground over certain issues; it’s all about making compromises. If for instance she wants pink and he wants blue, they could then settle for purple. That’s the whole concept of marriage.

Marriage is not easy, but with the right dose of love, commitment and tolerance, it could actually work. When difficult situations are pushing the two over the brink of love, they should hold on to those wonderful memories and fight fiercely to get that back. Truth is, sometimes people fall out of love and for marriage to last the two should find ways of falling in love with each other, over and over again.

Judging by my cousin’s background, I commended him for choosing to acknowledge his girlfriend of five years as the woman he wanted to marry in the presence of family and friends. See his parents separated when he’d barely started his first year of high school, and someone would imagine he would be a chip of his father’s block and steer clear of marriage.

However, I would say we all learn different things from the obstacles life throws at us. This is because my sisters and I have grown up with married parents but being a part of the turbulent life they share has made us witness things that make us afraid of getting married. If my parents’ marriage is anything to go by, I would say a married couple spends most of their life together being out of love than in love.

One thing I’m certain of is that there’s no one out there who’s perfect. I would want to believe my cousin’s dad could attest to that. He’s been with more women than I could care to count and as he approaches retirement age, he risks spending old age alone. None of the women he’s been with seemed to have stuck around long enough to build a home with him.

If I was a love guru, I would say he’s still searching for the one. But truth is, even when one believes they have found that perfect soul mate, with time the truth will out. No one is perfect. And marriage is not about love only. It’s all about finding that flawed person, whose shortcomings one can tolerate till death… That’s marriage.

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Marriage: Part 1

Marriage 1

In late May, one of my uncles invited us to his son’s engagement party. Given that we’re not so close to our extended relatives; plus it’s my uncle who invited us to the party and not my cousin, my sisters and I had contemplated bailing. On the eve of his son’s engagement, my uncle called dad to confirm if we were going. We were almost going to say no, but then we thought; he’d been asking us to go out for lunch with him since February this year so we figured we could kill two birds with one stone – attend the party and still visit our uncle. We agreed.

The next day we showed up at his place, where he’d thrown the engagement party. As with parties, guests had divided into groups. The old folks were sitted outside on the back porch doing some catching up over beer and barbecued meat while some male cousins gathered outside my cousin’s house drinking and sharing whatever stories guys talk about; think, cars, girls, sports, flings…etc.

Me, my sisters and our female cousins were in our cousin’s living room making small talk and when we were out of stories, one dozed off on the couch, while her young six-year old daughter engaged my small sis and I in idle childish banter – which I actually did enjoy; another left with one of our male cousins, who I’d never met before that day, to go get some chocolate for her heavily pregnant sister (she delivered five days later) and the rest of us kept ourselves busy watching an episode of ‘keeping up with the Kardashians’ for lack of something better to watch on TV.

One of my highlights for that day was when our expectant cousin let my sisters and I feel her son kicking. That might be of no significance to anyone else, but what made me cherish that little gesture was the fact that she told us her son only kicked when she was alone or with people she was comfortable around. According to her, her unborn son had never kicked when she was in her mom’s presence. So, yeah, that was a big deal to me. It felt good for once, to not feel like outsiders in our own family. Not that it matters though.

Much later, slightly after dusk, we were all summoned to gather in my uncle’s living room. Since it was a chilly night, there were pieces of wood burning in the fireplace and that had everyone feeling all warm and cosy. My dad’s oldest brother, being the eldest of the siblings had the honour of inviting guest after guest, who all stood in turn to give advice/congratulate the young couple.

Mom was among the last people to give her share of advice. And whatever she said stuck with me; not out of bias because she’s my own mother, but because most of what she said was based on her own relationship with dad. Knowing how much she has suffered in her marriage, I paid close attention to every word that left her mouth and the more she spoke the more I saw sense in it all.

Among the things she pointed out was that marriage, as the cliché goes, is not a smooth road; couples will differ in opinion, and difficult circumstances will push them up a wall, where they are tempted to give up on each other, but based on how they handle the situation, they might enjoy the happily ever after.

She said that if there are differences between the two, they should be ironed out amicably. Most importantly, when there’s something important to discuss, it should be done with both of them sober. She said nowadays young people are drinking too much and that alone could pose a big problem.

Mom precisely asked my cousin not to take a detour to a bar first before getting home if he needs to tell his fiancée something important – dutch courage and all… The alcohol, as she explained, would only worsen the situation, because she would just assume he’s drunk and therefore wouldn’t take him seriously.

His fiancée on the other hand, shouldn’t go gossiping about her marital problems with friends who won’t do anything to help. Instead, she should seek advice from someone she’s confident can help; for instance, any of the older women in the room, who already knew a thing or two about married life.

Most importantly, when they can’t seem to reach an agreement on something, they shouldn’t fight; throwing punches never solved a thing; on the contrary, that aggravates the situation. When there’s something bugging them, they should go over it when they’re both calm, that way there won’t be blows flying in the air. And when a few years down the line they feel they can’t stand each other, they should remember why they singled each other out of all the men and women they knew.