Getting married, as someone has pointed out, is easier than getting a driver’s license. Consequently, a whole lot of people “get married” without much thought. However, the consequences of an accidental marriage are far reaching to the individual than unsteady driving. When we say, “accidental marriage”, as used in this paragraph, we mean, that you have not sat down and thought out the factors we’ll discuss below. You are probably only interested in marriage as the last stage of a romantic relationship—like a degree certificate. But marriage is more than just a destination, it is hard work. This article is not intended to scare or alarm you, but hopefully, to serve as a practical guide. Of course, life as a couple is better than being single, but a single person is far better than an unhappy couple. This guide is meant to help you become a happy couple or at worst, a happy single.
By itself, and even in the best of situations, a marriage is a problematic contract. It features the difficulties of having a business partner, an employee, and a boss all combined together in one transaction—often without any pay. Even worse, you cannot terminate an unfruitful partnership at will, sack the irresponsible employee on the spot or leave the cruel boss at a moment’s notice—without risking severe social, religious, and legal censure.
Naturally, marriage involves these social, religious and legal commitments not just to another individual, but also to that other person’s lifestyle and life choices. It reduces your own individuality and it also limits your personal growth. You will become forced on numerous occasions to choose between investing in the marriage or investing in yourself. Whichever decision you make in such circumstances, something will definitely suffer.
All these considered as a whole, marriage is generally best avoided.
Assuming, of course, that you have the will and inclination to enter into a marital contract, irrespective of the preceding cautionary paragraphs, then you have to be very particular about the person you intend to get married to. Ordinarily, without any marital involvement, this person should be someone you would eagerly hire, theoretically to fill the following positions in your life: business partner, consultant, guidance and counseling officer, career advisor, best friend, house help, handyperson, confidante, emergency number, loan agent, personal physician–an endless list of practical requirements.
This individual you plan to marry will be someone whose presence you can tolerate at all times. The person is going to be in your face—night and day. Your personal space will be taken up by this person when you are not at work or outside. This other individual has to be a person with whom you are naturally in sync with. You do not have to agree on every point, but you should understand each other well enough to resolve issues easily. Remember, you plan to make a lot of little and major decisions with this person for several decades. You will have to make decisions such as your wedding venue, names for the babies, a school for the children, the location of your apartment or house, the colour of your curtains, the style of your sofa, the décor of your bedroom, how you spend your income, your attendance of extended family events, your sexual habits and routine, your attendance at religious events, your level of interaction with the opposite sex, and a million other tiny little things.
Now pause and ask yourself: as a single person, are you currently comfortable making these decisions with this other individual? Are there current examples of such decisions that you have both made—that do not relate to getting married? Do you currently enjoy, and welcome, the invasion of your space by the person? Do you two “get” each other? Do you understand each other’s psyche and motivations? Does this person know you well—or will the person be caught unawares by some facts about you after marriage? Can you vouch for the other person’s actions or omissions without hesitation? Do you both agree on fundamental philosophies of life and spirituality? Do you give each other inner peace?
If you cannot give firm and positive answers to the questions above, then you have no business marrying this person. If there are still aspects of the person’s character that irks or irritates you, then you should not marry the person. If you still intend to change that person’s nature, then you are not ready to marry that person. Going ahead to marry the person under any of these uncertain circumstances is unfair to both you and the other individual. Just one issue out of sync can be the cause of a lot of future grief.
You love the person, you may say. But the fact that you love the person is not enough—a lot of girls love Justin Bieber too. And no, your love is not special. Everybody loves someone at one point or another. Do not confuse love with marriage—they are different things. It is possible to have a working marriage without the kind of romantic “love” you have in mind, and it is possible to be in awesome love and have a bad marriage. A good marriage is not grounded in emotions alone. Of course, it is good to have both features combined; in fact, it is best. But when it comes to a marriage contract, a practical and comfortable friendship with the person is much more important than an emotionally charged but uncertain relationship.
But what if you have met (and fallen in love with) the best person for you, are you really ready to marry the person? It is possible that you may be ready for the wedding, but totally unready for the marriage. The circumstances under which you undertake a contract of marriage are very important. You should be financially and materially prepared for the responsibilities involved in a marriage. You should have a fair idea of your income and that of your potential spouse as well as a potential idea of your household expenses. Marriage is not just an emotional commitment; it is also a financial commitment. Here is a handy article listing all the circumstances under which you should not venture into marriage.
If the primary circumstances under which you have decided on a marriage are age or social factors, or from family or peer pressure, then you are doing it wrong. You should not allow pressure to force you into hasty decisions. You have to sit down and count the costs of life beyond the wedding. Remember, you are no longer earning and spending for yourself alone. You have to factor in the possibility of having a child within the next nine to ten months of the wedding. Are you able to handle all of the responsibilities involved? Is your potential spouse able to handle all of the required responsibilities? Only if you and the other person are practically ready, with measurable evidence of your readiness, should you venture into a marriage.
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