The Stuff Every Married Person Should Know
By: J. Marlando
We have a problem especially in the West—divorce occurs for around 50% of married couples and we do not know the statistic of those husbands and wives living unhappily ever after. What is really tragic with this of course is when there are children—girls and boys really need the influences of both a mom and a dad in their lives. I was fortunate in that while I never met my biological father, I had a great stepdad but far too many kids are not this fortunate.
A major problem is that in modernism the memes and myths about falling in love have not changed very much since late 1890s when love was first becoming a prerequisite of marriage. Actually love as a prerequisite for marriage would not come about in the way we think of love and marriage today until after Freud’s 1909 arrival in America. People only then began to realize that there was a deeper psychology about them and their relationships.Armed with this information social memes began slowly spreading until a kind of love + romance + marriage philosophy evolved. Before this, marriage was pretty much a business arrangement sometimes based on affection but never necessarily. People have always married to have children and other stuff together and if loved arrived between them, it most regularly evolved after marriage and not before.
If a reader is wondering about all those Middle-Age songs of romance, poetry and passionate love stories, they were always about mistresses and never wives. Love in marriage, as people think of it today, is actually only a little over a century old.
A major problem today is that parents, teachers and preachers are still giving the children the wrong lessons about marital relationships and filling them with misinformation about marital love and romance. This article will strive to create a “realistic” platform for couples wanting to marry and live happily and lovingly ever after
Early Concepts of Marriage
Yes, there are exceptions but in general couples fall far more in lust than love. This is Nature’s way of keeping the species going. Lust is, after all, a strong motivation to nest and mate for both genders. The problem with Nature’s plan is that after marriage the “lust” decreases while responsibilities increase and this is something young people need to know and expect. Remember, lust means “desire” and being eager for something—when the marriage bed becomes habitual, the lust necessarily diminishes and routines evolve, so lust is not a reason to marry, especially these days when culturally marriage is neither an ethical or moral necessity for having an intimate relationship.
In regard to this, it is interesting to me that our schools have sex education starting at fairly young ages. While there is some reason for this in terms of children learning about sexually transmitted diseases *and contraception, what a far more important subject to be taught is, a course in relationships or, in other words, how to have a lasting, loving, happy and secure marriage. Why? Because what hasn’t changed is that family life is still a cornerstone to the strength of the future and truth told, broken homes lead to a great deal of headaches and heartaches especially for the children. Indeed, the high count of single moms and broken homes have much to do with increased diabetes for children, increased obesity for children, increased psychological problems for children, increased crime committed by children, more gang affiliation for children and more school dropouts by children. One thing that would help curb these numbers is to rethink what we tell our children about love and marriage so they are more prepared for their own committed relationships. After all, very few people wed understanding the demands of marriage much less the ups, downs and turnarounds that married life unfolds.
For only one example, in our folklore, a great many children are raised to believe that God brings couples together. We have all heard the line: What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder but as I have always suggested, if God joined couples in “holy Matrimony,” there would be no divorce attorneys. There is nothing spiritual about marriage folks, however a spiritual connectedness can evolve for couples but we will talk about that later.
What a young person should first be taught is what part of his or her duty is to the other as a lifetime partner. We turn to Carl Menninger to clarify what this task is:
It is part of the function of marriage for the partners to
supply to each other that amount of support and
encouragement which is necessary to assuage the
wounds and frustrations encountered in the daily
lives of both.
Before any of us marry, we need to understand that supplying “support and encouragement” to our mates in order to help them confront and overcome the problems and challenges in their own daily lives is absolutely a major part of our commitment to them.
With the above in mind, a myth to leave by the wayside is that marriage is somehow going to make our own frustrations and dissatisfactions go away. In regard to this, too many parents are used to telling their children that one day they’ll find the right mate, be happily married and thus be happy. So marriage becomes an image of a happy, contented married life for young people that have heard such propaganda. Nearly all “happy” and “contented” married lives, however, are achieved by couples who have struggled and crossed a great many hurdles together. And this is the message that parents (and other teachers) should give to their children.
Happiness is an individual challenge and nothing that arrives from one’s spouse. Indeed, the mate who says to his or her mate, but I thought you were going to make me happy is a victim of the marriage myth that actually breeds contempt between couples in many marriages.
Marriage is a partnership not a romantic relationship—romantic relationships have nothing to do with the aspects and goals of marriage or married life. While it is possible to have both, it is essential for young people to grasp that marriage in and of itself, about finance and acquisitions not the dynamics of love and lust. The dynamics of love and lust belong to the relationship that is clearly distinct from the marriage.
Permit me to say this simpler: It is not so unusual for a husband and wife to become frustrated in their lives together because they do not have what they believed their marriage would deliver—while this begins with happiness and contentment it also means a secure financial life. Young people need to be aware that marriage is about money and the stuff that money can buy. When one marries, it is a commitment to one another in the business of marriage. The great test of that commitment is when the business of marriage…fails!
This is why most pledges of marriage include the premise of staying together through better and worse richer and poorer; and sickness and health. When one takes these particular pledges seriously, only then does the marriage have a chance to last. Young people need to know this and realize the implications of this before choosing to walk down the aisle.
*It is well known that sex education in schools has done little to reduce teenage pregnancy since the modern conception of sex educators in schools began to unfold in 1968.
What Marriage Really Is
As I have said in other material I’ve written, including Marriage Forum ® there are two separate conditions of committed mating for sincere couples. The two-part commitments to marriage are (1) The partnership and (2) the relationship.
That partnership is about the financial goals of the marriage. The view that marriage itself is all about the relationship, which is about the romance and friendship of the couple has probably resulted in more unhappiness and separations for married couples than anything else.
What young people need to know is that marriage is a serious business between husband and wife and needs to be understood as a business deal and not merely a joining together in love and lust.
Long before the engagement a couple should not be discussing how much fun it will be to be together forever but what the reachable goals are for the marriage In Marriage like any other business it is essential to plan for both the short and long term. For most married people, for example, the home is the biggest investment they will make. How long will it take them to secure a down payment and reach a financial position of being able to afford to buy a house, furnish it, keep up with all the utilities, phones, cable and whatever while still being able to support the relationship and its needs, i.e., dinner out, vacations, luxury items and spending money for both individuals in the marriage.
Money problems are related to most marital problems and family breakups so money MUST be discussed by couples who are planning to marry. As long as parents, teachers and preachers are telling young people that after marriage happiness will evolve they are leading those youngsters down the Primrose Lane. What follows marriage most typically are problems and challenges that more often than not, young couples are not prepared for. As a result young people need to play the “what if” game.
What if one of you gets sick or in a terrible accident?
What if it takes longer and cost more to have what you want than you now think it will?
What if you both have to work to support your lives?
What if you can’t make the acquisitions that you are hoping to make?
What if you lose the job that you now have or don’t advance as quickly as you think you will?
It is more than likely that all married couples will at one time or another go through 4 out of 5 of these “what if” situations during their married lives. As negative as they are, if a couple weds without being aware of them much less prepared for them, the marriage itself will not be rationally or realistically grounded.
As a quick aside, one reason that so married people cheat is to escape the daily disappointments and anxieties in life. And disappointments and anxieties enter all lives but especially for married couples who are sharing so many intimacies together.
So couples going to become engaged and married must discuss and be prepared for what the partnership will need to ground it in reality. The martial partnership after all is all about the business of the marriage.
It is safe to say that when the martial partnership is at least doing okay that the marital relationship will be positive as well. On the other hand, when couples marry thinking that it is all about their relationship, they will almost certainly end up in bitter arguments and…discontent.
While the marital relationship is about the marriage bed the affection and loving for the married couple, the marital business is about the finances and reaching goals. Young people need to know these fundamentals before committing to marriage.
What the marriage partnership is about are fiancés and acquisitions. The relationship is separate from the partnership and MUST be realized as being separate. Most couples do not even attempt to separate the business of the marriage from the relationship and this is major reason why 50% of marriages end upin separation and sadness.
We simply must get rid of the marriage myths that lead people to believe that marriage is about having a great life one with the other—there is just so much more to consider.
Marriage in Overview
No matter how we experience the dynamics of being in love before marriage, with few exceptions, those passions will diminish within the first three years of togetherness. Indeed, another major, marriage myth to dump is the one that tells young people there are “two-peas-in-a-pod relationships. If two-peas-in-a-pod relationships do exist for some couples it is
because husband or wife is doing a lot of compromising to accomplish the goal. Men and women are different, they value differently and in most instances think differently. As a result, there is truly an art in learning how to live together in happiness and contentment. It simply takes a lot of understanding and tolerance to make a marriage work. One major…major problem is that far too many husbands and wives believe that their mate is responsible for their joy and peace of mind. This, however, is a two-way street meaning that it is no more our mate’s job to make our lives better, sweeter and more comfortable than it our job to do all we can to make our mate’s life more pleasant and happy.
No matter how much we felt in love before marriage the real, heart-devoted kind of love a successful relationship needs does not begin until after marriage. And young people need to be aware of this. Yes, that’s right, after we begin to experience the other’s frailties, flaws and faults; after we’ve seen them at their worst which is why the “sickness and health” clause in typically a part of the marriage vowels.
And so with all these challenges is there anything positive that arrives from marriage. Yes, since marriage is primarily a business proposition a positive partnership between couples can produce a life of security, comfort, wealth and heirs. These rather cold and calculating rewards are historically what marriage has been about long before biblical times. As stated in another part of this narrative, love and even affection has only been around as the motive for marriage a little over 100 years. Marriage has always been about acquisition as opposed to affection. In fact, in many parts of the world it is parents who chose who their sons and daughters will marry. For some newlyweds, a husband would not have even seen his wife’s face until after the wedding.
To the western world this seems horrible and appalling, how could anyone wed another without knowing them, much less without seeing them? No matter how terrible those marriages sound to the western mind they, most typically, last lifetimes and are, in general, happy and content.
This returns us to what was said earlier, true loving does not begin until after marriage; after sharing the ups, downs and turnarounds together. In this regard, let us address the question why in the world would couples who did not even choose their own mates be happier and more content than those who do and have?
The answer is, first of all, in the culture. In those cultures where men and women marry the mates chosen for them by their parents, the husband and wife have been raised to be courteous and mindful to others. This carries on into their married lives: They have been taught to show compassion and understanding to others and those attributes are also weaved into their married lives. Indeed, husbands and wives of such cultures are prepared for the diffiuclties and hardships of life and live much more in the present as opposed to living in the absence of things as most western men and women do. And, you seldom ever hear of husbands and wives of an arranged marriage calling each other names and/or belittling each other. Respect and being honorable are keys to the personalities of those marriages.
In the west a great many married couples do not really even listen to each other much less be respectful to one another’s thoughts and feelings. Yes, of course, there are many exceptions to this, but disrespect for each other is commonplace in the private lives of a great many couples.
No one is saying that every marriage in traditional cultures is always happy and content. Certainly they are not, but talking in overview more are because, for them, tradition wins over temperament in most instances while especially in the U.S. and other industrial countries it is just the opposite.
So what is the secret of having a happy, lasting and content marriage?
As simplistic as it sounds, the most effective answer is to want it; to desire having a marriage that is happy, lasting and content and therefore working daily to give your marriages those qualities regardless of the conditions of the marriage itself. We will talk about this next.
All About Love and the Spiritual in Marriage
When we can accept that marriage is at root level a business partnership, we can enter it grounded in realistic expectations: After all, a major part of the aspects of being married is to create a financially secure alliance with one’s spouse. While this is, if you will, marriage 101 it is seldom ever talked about when parents are discussing marriage with their children. Most conversations are about giving up one’s freedom and warnings such as you’d better be sure this person is the right one for you and so forth. If more people fully understood that getting married was entering a legal business contract and therefore made plans to succeed in the business of marriage the divorce rate would drop considerably as would family breakups.
But what about other side of the marital union; the spiritual and loving side?
Most certainly not every married couple will succeed in the business side of their marriages; they will discover that everything typically takes longer and costs more than they thought it would; a great many will go too deeply in debt to succeed; some will not get the raise or the higher paying jobs they hoped for; some will have too many children too early and find themselves living from payday to payday; a thousand and one things can create business failure for married couples.
Money problems are all but certainly the reason for most unhappiness in marriages and the cause behind a majority of divorces and breakups. This again is why it is so vital to do pre-marital financial planning. Indeed, not getting down to the nuts and bolts of finances as part of the pre-planning done by engaged couples is to leave the couple vulnerable to all kinds of upsets and disappointments after marriage.
And since every marriage will endure at least some disappointments and upsets an act of love is to have the “heart” and so the ability to be a loving mate even in times of stress and disappointment in the marriage; to be able to separate the relationship from the partnership.
An extremely major reason why so many marriages fall apart is because married couples not only fail to separate the marital partnership from the marital relationship, but by and large most couples are not even aware that there is a difference. On a short overview the relationship is about the romance of marriage while the partnership is about the finances of marriage. It is essential not to drag the problems of one aspect into the other.
Indeed, we are NOT our over debt, our unpaid bills, our bald tires, leaky sinks any more than we are our new cars, mansion on the hill and millions of dollars in the bank. All those things are successes or failures of the partnership which has nothing to do with the relationship. People who wed need to fully grasp this. The common pledge is to love one another for better and worst and richer and poorer and this means to treat one another lovingly through ALL the ups and downs and turnarounds of married life and life in general.
In regard to the above, the “spirituality” of marriage begins to blossom when couples begin to know all about each other and love each other anyway. While we might feel “in” love with our mates when we marry them that love will ALWAYS be conditional which is not actual or fulfilled love at all. It can take years for couples to grow their love into the maturity of being unconditional one for the other. When unconditional love blossoms between couples they will almost always end up living happily ever after.
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