Marriage: Why Do It?
Marriage. That bastion of stability where love is meant to thrive and flowers bloom; filling every spare moment with magical marital bliss. But just make sure you put the dishes away first. Oh and mop the floor. And, yes, clean the bathroom while you’re at it. But you better hurry or you’ll be late for work (the paying kind).
Why is marriage so different from the idealized image? Take a look around you and there are so many married people that seem unhappy. Could marriage really be the cause of so much misery?
It’s easy to point the finger at marriage, which is doubtless why so many do. After all, who hasn’t seen starry-eyed couples imagining marriage as the answer to their dreams? Then see them gradually morphing into a quietly frumpy, bitter state. Our stories and media messages are full of it. More importantly, many of us have firsthand experience of a troubled marriage, and difficult divorce. So we know: marriage is no picnic.
That’s not even taking into account gender issues in marriage. Like the gap between men and women’s domestic input, e.g:
- Woman shops for the groceries, cooks the meal, sets the table, and clears away.
- Man… stacks the dishwasher and presses the button.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, married women do 1.8 times the amount of work in the home compared to men (2006). I imagine this figure would be similar in many countries. Which goes part way to explain why you feel so tired! In Australia, the expression “What’d your last slave die of?” pretty much sums it up.
So there are plenty of issues wrapped up in marriage that make it a volatile mix. Fool around, or stop communicating in ways that both partners understand and the whole thing can blow sky high.
But I believe in marriage. Passionately. Despite all the risks, it’s a journey with unspeakably rich rewards. That’s why we shouldn’t dismiss young lovers’ hopes and dreams for a happy marriage. Far from it. Instead, we should support them and be matter of fact about the adventure they’re about to embark on.
Marriage therefore is no refuge for wimps. Instead, a good marriage demands bravery and determination. Because things will come up that challenge us deeply; meaning you risk everything to make it. In a way, marriage is kind of like the greatest adventure you never have to leave town for. All the dangers are still there. But instead of being eaten by a crocodile, you might get chewed up by dishonesty, desperation, or sheer disappointment.
To have a happy marriage takes everything you can imagine and then some. But then, doesn’t life demand that anyway?
Somewhere in our pre-nuptially negotiated commitments, we’ve made marriage out to be the problem. As if somehow, marriage has sharp claws and teeth to bite us when we least expect it. But it’s not marriage. It’s the challenge of living closely with another in a high trust relationship that is so hard. Juggling lover, and mother hats is hard enough. But throw in worker’s cap and more besides and it’s a hard act to live by. Never mind the equivalent for your husband. Like a live theatre show running continuously for 50-60 years, marriage means plenty of drama, closeness, some great moments to remember, and a lot of misunderstanding under pressure.
But I’m selling marriage short. It’s much better than that. True, marriage has two sides. Like the girl with the curl marriage can be very, very good. But when it’s bad it’s horrid. Yet for me, I would recommend marriage to anyone willing to pledge their love and friendship. Providing they know it will bring out their best and worst in the process, this wonderful highwire act called marriage still offers the grandest adventure of all.
Is that true for you too? How do you feel about marriage?
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