The challenges of marriage
“I take you to be my partner. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
Sometimes the fear of being left alone and having no one to share your joys or sorrows, your highs and lows, makes one find a partner in desperation or haste.
My parents, on the other hand, did not have a choice of who they married. Their union was arranged. Mum was 15 years younger than dad and it showed in later years. Their idea of getting married was just to have a family and keep the lineage going.
Yes, they had five daughters and instilled family values that have held us together through four generations.
Marriages, even theirs, do have many challenges.
Who does what in the home, for example?
The challenge for many marriages is that every couple is raised by a separate pair of parents, each with their own method of right or wrong, good or bad.
For instance, the mother of the newborn baby may have been subjected to a rigid set of rules, while the father may have had a more lax upbringing. This in itself is cause for frustration and argument.
Who decides what is right in a marriage?
Lesson 1: Figure each other out as early as possible
When you’re dating someone new, it’s important to move the relationship forward at your own pace.
Make sure your core values are clear up front.
Children are a product of their parents and peers. From birth, they are instilled with qualities that their parents wish them to follow.
These parents were their established support system when they were growing up, and believe it or not, their traditions were passed down from generation to generation.
Of course, children do pick what advice to keep and what to toss out. Times change, and so do to the “do’s and don’t’s” of marriage.
Learn as much about your partner before you make a life-long commitment.
Lesson 2: You can find a mate in unusual places
My in-laws had an romantic first encounter.
My father-in-law walked into a dentist’s office (he too was a Dentist) and he found himself immediately enchanted by the receptionist. It was then and there that he decided she would be his wife.
He found out that she was hearing impaired but it did not deter him. She once told me she was a little annoyed with his quick proposal as she was not ready to get married.
He did not give up, and she was worth it. She was an amazing lip-reader and all her other senses were very alert. Nothing hindered her from doing everything she wanted to do.
They were married happily for sixty-plus years.
Their relationship was similar to an arranged marriage but my father-in-law got to pick his wife and she did find him charming (and incredibly good looking).
They made a great couple. His eyes lit up when he saw her even when he was on his dying bed. This is true love.
It proves that you can find your mate in the most unusual places.
Lesson 3: Cultural differences complicate matters, but can be overcome
Diverse cultures play a big part in incompatibility due to each individual’s backgrounds and traditions.
Individuals with different cultural backgrounds may encounter opposing values as a significant obstacle in their marriage.
This difficulty can manifest itself in their expectations in approaching daily responsibilities, celebrating holidays, pursuing careers, child-rearing duties, and the personal sacrifices they should make for the sake of their marriage.
When two different cultures marry, they step into a new world. Their spouse must know how to navigate their new partner’s culture, their own culture, as well as the mainstream majority culture in North America.
For a person who has only known that majority culture, it can be eye-opening to see things from a new perspective.
Lesson 4: Understand your social network
After marriage you may discover that the life-long friends you have are not compatible with your spouse. You can’t just ditch them, so you see them less frequently. This may not sit well with you but it is a compromise you may have to make for the sake of your marriage.
It goes both ways.
You may not like your spouse’s friends. Is he/she willing to reduce his or her contact with them?
The problem here, even though it may be the best solution, is that you are not doing it out of choice. You are forced to let go a little at a time, the things that matter most to you.
It’s best to make sure your spouse is compatible with your close friends.
They say love is blind.
But you shouldn’t go into a marriage blind.
Perhaps it is the worst way to pick your life partner. You have to go into marriage with your ‘eyes wide open’ and even then, you could have minor technical difficulties.
Make a list of the things you will not part with and then discuss with your future mate and work out a compromise.
If you are a pessimist, do not marry an optimist. You will bring your partner down and be miserable.
Get to know your partner really well.
Talk it out and find a happy medium.
A few more quick lessons for lovers of any age
True love is about working out your problems without placing expectations that are too high and bound to fail.
It is constantly being aware of your partner’s needs and being there when you are needed.
It is making your union a partnership and not a sparring contest.
True love is about complimenting each other and meaning it. It is about never trying to compete in a negative way with your partner.
You are in this together. Your successes are your family successes.
True love does not cheat, it does not lie, or resort to addictions
Work together as a couple. This is the most important lesson especially when raising children.
Never lose the intrigue of your partner and most importantly: Communicate!
Never keep secrets from each other.
Faith, hope, charity and most of all, patience — these four words are key to every marriage.
Like me, you too can successfully celebrate 50 plus years together as partners and friends for life!
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Greta Dias(Author)