Friday, 22 April 2011

Great (and not-so-great) Expectations

Let's face it....marriage is becoming more obsolete than ever. A friend of mine, whose father died recently at the ripe old age of 88, told me that her mother has never been happier since becoming a widow. This is a couple who were married for 57 years, brought forth four children and lived an outwardly traditional life. 
This woman chose to remain unhappy for 57 years rather than defy conventions and seek her happiness. She sacrificed her own wants and needs until the cold hand of death released her from the unpleasant duty of being a wife. I have no idea how the husband must have felt but  can only imagine that as he was in a dominant position (as husbands of that era were) his needs and desires were pandered to.

Whenever I receive a wedding invitation I get a little depressed. I think of how much will be spent on the bridalwear, jewellery, venue and flowers and how little any of that has to do with the ultimate happiness of the couple. No where is there a sadder reflection of unbridled consumerism than at a wedding.
The romance of money
My wedding day was totally hijacked by the expectations of my nearest and dearest. Today, I balk at the expense. My parents could not really afford it but went to alot of trouble to give me the best they could. I was a babe in arms (an immature, insecure 23 year old) who was prepared to throw herself into the arms of an equally complicated and dysfunctional character, soon to be my husband. This was not the stuff dreams are made of!

Marriage in any generation is a complex affair; the harmonising of two personalities or an unlikely fusion of  lust, lies and laughter.We marry with a set of expectations that never materialise and hopes that are dashed  even before the wedding bed is warmed. A friend  was in tears on the night before her wedding as she knew she was marrying the wrong man. There was no way she could call if off since everything had been bought and paid for. Her happiness was last on the list of wedding gifts!

Love is a powerful force but marriage curbs its potency. Love is unconditional but the male/female union is conditional - that is the heart of the matter. Spiritual love does not demand that two hearts and minds are weighed down by earthly shackles but too often they are.

It's best to have no expectations then you'll never be disappointed. However, it's a dismal life to be so unambitious. So what's  the solution?
Pop goes the marriage!

If I made the rules, I'd outlaw marriage. I prefer to promote personal happiness over seeking happiness in "holy togetherness". Children will then be truly borne out of joyous, spiritual communion rather than mere biology. Ideally, "the couple" should live apart - in their own abodes -  and then join together to share the best with each other and work on their shortcomings in their own time and space. That would be truly holy!

I've advised my children to elope (that's if marriage is a  still a viable instiitution the third decade of the 21st century). I'm opting out of the pomp and glamour. I'd prefer that my children marry real people (those who will allow them to be true to themselves). We must not simply marry into institutions but consciously create a haven furnished with  mutual values and standards....with less of the bling!

As Shakespeare said: "true marriage is a marriage of minds" and you don't have to live in the same house, town or country to establish that. My motto is "expect the unexpected" and your relationship (in whatever shape or form) will always be fresh!



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