I just read an article on the Huffington Post titled “Five Reasons My Divorce Was the Best Thing That Happened To Me,” filled with the expected reasons of re-self-discovery and regaining self-respect. And while I empathise for the evident pain that comes with relationship breakdown, I’m even more frustrated by society’s almost “drive-thru” attitude towards marriage.
As some same-sex couples line up to be legally wed while others are jumping at their legal right to divorce (I’m looking at you, New Orleans), and as everyone else seems to be going into marriage for the long, sorry no, emotional haul (in good times and bad, at least until the fuzzy feelings have fizzled out); it’s clear that everyone is confused.
So let me clear something up for you: marriage is forever. Here are a few points that couples would do well to consider:
Marriage should not be entered into lightly
In the above article that I read, the author points out that she had some major doubts but got married anyway – not a good start, as she admits. Even if marriage was just a party and a legality (which, I must stress, it is not), its breakdown comes with huge consequences – for the persons themselves, for their kids, their families, their friends, and so on. Marriage isn’t something that you try on for size, people: you’re in it for life. So if you’re unsure or unhappy about it, don’t do it.
Love is a choice
People are really confused about love these days. It’s not solely made up butterflies in your stomach, sweaty hands, wild passion and a giddy joy. These are part of the fun, yes, but emotions aren’t love. Love is an act of the will – a choice that a couple makes every day. Just like a mother loves her baby by waking up to breastfeed when she’s tired, so a couple choose to stick by one another when the going gets tough.
Divorce is not an option
I grew up in, and still live in, a household where divorce is not an option – mum and dad committed for life and that was that. Looking back, that was something which gave my siblings and I a tremendous amount of security. As much as parents try to build esteem in their kids, the best way to do this is for them to see the love between their parents. (I should point out that separation might be necessary is certain extreme situations, such as an abusive relationship. “Irreconcilable differences” though, is generally a cop-out.
It’s not meant to be easy
I think this clicked in my brain after abseiling at a school camp when I was pretty terrified – sometimes the things that are hardest to do pay off the most. Anything worthwhile takes effort, including marriage. Hollywood may press “stop” at the sepia-toned moment where a couple drives off into the sunset, but that’s only the beginning. Anyone can ride an emotional high, but how many people can stick it out for the long haul?