"Why do you want to get married?" is a question that I had to address from some friends when I made the decision to get married. There were never any sinister intentions behind these conversations. The question was borne out of genuine curiosity. In this day and age, the institution of marriage has many negative connotations associated with it and they were simply looking to understand why I would venture down that road.
When guys talk to other guys about marriage -- often, their wife is cast in the role of the old "ball-and-chain." Also, we are regularly bombarded by statistics -- 50 per cent of marriages fail, more than 50 per cent of men and women cheat and the list goes on. This can scare people and make them want to avoid the whole thing altogether.
My opinion on marriage is that it's like driving a car -- you wouldn't put someone in a car who doesn't have some kind of training. This training is essential so that you can safely navigate the roads. So why allow people to make a decision as important as marriage with no preparation? I was fortunate enough to go through a marriage mentorship program before I got married. I won't lie -- I thought it was going to be a big waste of time before I started but looking back, I'm very happy I took part in this experience. When the topic of marriage comes up I find that most people emphasize the day of the actual wedding but what needs to be brought up is what follows the wedding day, which is essentially the rest of your life together.
My wife and I recently celebrated our first year together as a married couple and these are some of my observations, which might be helpful to those asking their friends "Why do you want to get married?" :
1) Marriage is not easy.
I think marriage is the one relationship which really forces you to face your issues -- you can't hide. With other relationships you have the option to put space between yourselves but it is very difficult to do this with your spouse. I think that the best relationships in your life have had to manage conflict because if you are able to successfully "fight" with someone and still have a great relationship, that is definitely somebody that you want to keep in your life. A relationship with a good foundation takes time to create and over time, all your collective experiences build on top of that.
2) Marriage is fun.
I was one of those guys who was scared to get married because I thought that once you got married, you would automatically become cut off from the rest of the world, including your friends and in my case, sports leagues. I was definitely wrong. This is where you have to ignore stuff you hear from the media or even from people you know. If you marry the right person, your marriage will be fun. And you will definitely see your friends and still be able to maintain your individual identity. Try to have activities that you do together (my wife and I play in an ultimate frisbee league) and things you do separately (hang out with friends, gym, reading). Distance makes the heart grow fonder but you can't have too much time apart either. To make this work, you just need to discuss this with your partner and figure out specific terms.
3) Enjoy the small moments.
Don't get me wrong -- I have enjoyed the trips I've taken so far with my wife. We've been to Vancouver, Chicago and Costa Rica so far, with plans of going on many more trips together in the future. But I also really love the small moments; like coming home and watching a basketball playoffs game or chatting as we doze off to sleep (usually I fall asleep while she is still talking to me).
4) Make time for family.
You're not just marrying each other, but your respective families. As such, you must make the effort to spend time with both sets of parents, individually and together. People tend to take this for granted, especially as you get older. Your families don't have to be the best of friends, but it definitely helps if you individually get along with your partner's family and vice versa. It just makes life more fun -- I love the new family parties I go to, especially our late-night poker/game nights.
5) Serve each other.
This is probably the most important observation. It's a natural tendency to be self-centred and focus primarily on what is going on in your own life. But if you always make an effort to assume that the other person is more busy than you and needs your help as much as possible, this is when things become really beautiful. It's tough, but when you try to serve each other versus serving yourself, this is where your marriage grows. I'm often busy myself with my start-ups, sports leagues and friends/family -- but I know my wife is very busy herself and I try my best to see how I can help make her life easier and she does the same for me.
This post was authored by Ara Ehamparam and originally published on TamilCulture.com.
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