Make way for a lasting marriage | Sunday Observer

Make way for a lasting marriage

14 May, 2021

After 27 years of marriage Bill and Melinda Gates have decided to end their relationship through a divorce. This may not be a piece of hot news for readers in the West where a large number of marriages end up in divorce. The divorce rate in developed countries has doubled over the years. However, most married couples in Eastern countries prefer to live together even after 40 or 50 years of marriage.

“How have you managed to stay married for so long?” It was a question posed by a woman in her 30s to a man who celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary recently. Her question puzzled him because he was under the impression that marriage was fashionable again in the 21st century. When I spoke to a lawyer specialising in divorce cases, he said while getting married had made a comeback, staying married was still suspect. Young people are eager to get married but most of them do not want to stay married for a long time.

I suppose the divorce rate has made a lasting marriage seem an almost impossible dream. Most of the marriages could have been saved by a little bit of imagination and focusing on the positive side of the partners. My conversation with some married couples confirmed the view that a marriage that has lasted more than 15 years is likely to continue. Married couples have their own problems and struggles. They are common even to unmarried people. However, most people who wish to divorce their partners were looking for emotional satisfaction than physical satisfaction.

Village couples

Ordinary villagers who have never been to universities stay married for a long time. For them marriage is important to carry out their work. My lawyer friend says most of his clients come from urban areas. This raises many questions. Why do urban married couples seek divorce after a few years of their marriage? Why do rural couples consider marriage as a sacred bond? There should be more than one answer to such questions.

Husbands and wives in happy marriages love and respect each other. The husband rarely goes away to a distant place leaving his wife. Even if he is forced to do so, he will be in touch with her. In some households both the husband and wife go out for work. When they return home they exchange workplace gossip. They talk to each other in a friendly way. On rare occasions they raise their voices and argue, but they resolve their problems amicably.

Although sex is part of marriage, they do not consider it as a major part of their union. There is a kind of sexual electricity between some partners but sex is not everything in a marriage. Happy couples find each other interesting although they may not have the same interests. Some busy husbands who work in managerial positions want to relax on vacations, but their wives may wish to travel a lot.

When they go on a trip there are opportunities to satisfy their needs. Some wives are deeply interested in religious activities while their male counterparts will accompany them to keep the marriage going. Some husbands are very lavish in spending money. Their wives may want to save every rupee. But they have to understand the fact that we have to spend money lavishly on certain occasions and there are instances when you have to be rather frugal in spending.

Ability to change

Couples should have the ability to change with time. When children are born you have to look after them. When they get married and leave home, spouses have to live alone. They grow old and fall ill bringing in anxieties. When the husband gets a promotion, he will change his routine. His wife has to adjust herself to the new situation. As one psychiatrist has put it, couples have to make strategic midcourse corrections. Both parties have to make constant decisions to suit the changing situations.

Even a love marriage can face a midlife crisis. This is a time when differences come to the surface. The husband may find fault with his wife and vice versa. Unless they understand the situation and take remedial measures, the marriage will go on the rocks. Very often either the husband or his wife will try to build new relationships with outsiders. This is a time they need the help of elders to sustain their marriage.

Rapid social changes may also be a cause for tension in marriage. Today women enjoy a greater freedom to do any job they prefer. They also enjoy the freedom of movement. Couples have to be flexible enough to adjust themselves to changing circumstances. Partners in a marriage should not see themselves as victims of fate, but as free agents who can make wise choices. Any change should be chosen willingly to keep their marriage alive.

Nobody is perfect

No man or woman is perfect. So you cannot expect ideal husbands or wives. All of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you may not like certain qualities in your partner. Once a wise woman said, “If you love me, love my dog.” You will be bombarded with advice from elders. The wisest course is to let things be without getting upset. You cannot change your husband or wife overnight.

Even couples who have been married for a long time have unresolved conflicts involving children, property or finances. However, there is a style of dealing with such conflicts. The first course of action is to stop fighting over conflicts. Focus on the strengths of the marriage and compatibilities than incompatibilities. As someone said, “You have to know when to holler and when to look away.”

We get married to someone with the expectation that it will last forever. Although we do not live forever, it is a philosophical concept. The partners in a marriage should not think that divorce is a viable option. When you firmly believe that your marriage will last forever, it tempers your approach to conflict resolution.

Love in any marriage needs time to take root and expand. Time is a master healer that allows you to take each other for granted. There is no need to impress or to prove yourself correct. However, love in any marriage is likely to wax and wane but you must have trust that marriage will last. If you trust each other, you have laid the foundation for a happy marriage.

Master healer

Partners in a happy marriage build a history together. However, young people have no sense of history because they live in the present. As a result, they become rootless souls. This may be one reason for the high rate of divorce among young couples. People in long-lasting marriages value their history together. Even after a bitter argument you will remember how you met him or her for the first time.

To keep a marriage going you also need a little bit of luck. Contrary to popular belief, luck is not entirely out of your control. Luck in marriage is nothing but your attitude. If you have the right attitude towards your partner, the marriage will work. With all its rages and despair, marriage is an adventure.

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