I remember the love letters my father and mother exchanged. My parents wrote them in our native South Asian (Indian) language. I could not read a word of that language but I saw them pass those notes to each other. They shared a secret code. My father called my mother his ‘girl’ until well into her 70s and praised her cooking all the time. She had her special nickname, “Raj”, for my father.
My mother also spoiled my father with food and catered to his needs, until the day he died. They were best friends. They were thick as thieves. My parents made each other laugh. They had an arranged marriage, that worked, because it was based on knowing each other and committing to each other. My parents were very devoted to each other and this was common knowledge in my family. So, the arranged part became inconsequential over time. They complemented each other in so many ways.
Sometimes I read about high-profile, celebrity divorces and I pause and think. The famous, married husband and wife, with numerous failed marriages between them, have put themselves in the public eye. They are really not entitled to demand privacy because of the nature of their celebrity. They decide to go their separate ways because they don’t have the same goals and dreams, anymore.
What did the celebrity couple really think, when they got together? That marriage isn’t a fluid and changeable thing? Did success and fame convince them that the initial physical attraction would remain exactly the same? Was the headiness of the romance, the basis for getting married in the first place? Did they think that all they needed to do is to find someone new to marry and all will be well? Did they think about repairing what was wrong within themselves before jumping into the next disastrous relationship and marriage?
My views on marriage are what they are, precisely because my first marriage was a dysfunctional, highly traditional, arranged marriage, https://sues.life/2021/02/13/a-marriage-without-love/.
My first wedding was grand and expensive, with a long guest list. The first marriage was one in which I did not have a real opportunity before the wedding day, to get to know my ex-partner and gauge his commitment to me. He shielded his true self and did not reveal himself to me until after the wedding day. We were not compatible and did not want the same things in life. That is one reason why the marriage was doomed to fail. That is why it ended in divorce. My ex-husband’s indifference and blatant unfaithfulness forced me to give up on my marriage despite all my hard work to make it last because it was a mere shell, a sham.
Getting married doesn’t fix what is wrong within ourselves. We need to be less broken inside before we impose our brokenness on someone else. That is why marriage should not be a temporary fix, like a band-aid, to our wounded selves.
What is Marriage?
Marriage to me, is a a kind of contract, a solemn promise and a vow to go through thick and thin together. So long as both parties have a sincere commitment to the relationship and work on their issues every day, the marriage has every chance of lasting and indeed, of flourishing.
These, then are my views on marriage. To begin with, love and companionship in marriage, go hand in hand. Secondly, there are real legal implications to entering into marriage. Marriage is a relationship where the couple’s interests are bound together until one of them passes away. Thirdly, if a person is spiritual, the vows of marriage are precious and a promise before a Higher Power. Fourthly, no one should enter into marriage expecting it to be a bed of roses the whole time. There are real highs and lows. How the couple weathers the challenges together, is key to the success and longevity of the marriage.
The Subsequent Journey
That is why I spent a lot of time and energy getting to know my now-spouse. Five years to be exact. I am hopeful about the direction my present marriage is taking because I took my long-standing commitment to marriage and merged it with getting to know the person I was going to marry, before actually marrying him.
But, my husband and I were potential life companions and fate had brought us together. When we first started to get to know each other, we both felt like we had known each other forever. We almost felt like we had met in another life. I must admit that at the time of meeting, neither of us had very much, materially, to bring to the marriage. I also had 2 children from my previous marriage. My husband accepted my 2 children despite never having been married or having had children before. I myself, feared being accepted by my husband’s family.
My father and mother had seen how I suffered in my first marriage. They saw how happy this man I had found on my own, made me feel. All my parents wanted for me was the same love that they had enjoyed in their marriage.
We both believed in the sanctity of marriage. We both understood that we had to be loyal and stand with the other through thick and thin. Also, that the relationship involves work and that we both had to work hard to keep the love and romance alive. We had to have each other’s backs.
What I found in turn, was a commitment from a man who did not see my differences as an impediment. His kindness and love towards me has made me believe in unity through diversity. I, in turn, do not impose any of my culture or practices on him. He has embraced my uniqueness and we truly believe we can thrive in the blend of our differences.
A Pledge to Commit
So, it was a very powerful event in our lives when my now-husband and I got married in a simple, quiet ceremony, without any pomp. We were focusing on the future and not on fluff and show. Why, you ask? Well, in addition to all the factors I listed above, of the characteristics of marriage, we had a few more unique challenges. Here I was, an immigrant, Asian Woman. I had lived most of my life outside, moving to, the United States. There my husband was, a White male, of several generations of European descent living in the United States, wanting me to become part of his life, in his country. In addition, my intended spouse’s family had a long and patriotic past. I was nervous about my future in-laws accepting me and about our life together in the United States.
You see, it is significant that we do agree on things that matter. Like honesty and integrity between us and from others. We speak the truth and expect it from others. Both of us don’t want cruelty or hate to be part of who we are at all. We know that ridiculing others or labelling others is wrong. Neither of us is perfect, but our diverse backgrounds make us see the other side a lot better. And most importantly, we take turns reminding the other what true tolerance and compassion look like. What kindness looks like, as well.
We live in a time of great divisiveness but the truth is that we can co-exist despite and even, because of our differences. Who knows, along the way, we might even find true love and commitment from someone who might not look like us. You see, the funny thing is that the heart doesn’t discriminate the way the brain does. So when we truly follow our hearts and find love and commitment from someone else, we should ask if this person could possibly be our life’s companion and best friend.