By Joy Ehonwa
I’ve always thought about marriage a lot. Not about getting married or having a wedding, but about this thing called marriage. I wondered how it worked, and if it really was the way it had been presented to us.
A few days ago I was at the salon and a really sour-faced and ill-tempered woman was there throwing tantrums and saying really mean things to her PA on the phone. When she left, my stylist told me she had seen her treat her husband the same way. I wondered aloud how he could still be with her, and the stylist said it was because she was the higher income earner. It was a rude reminder that marriage really does mean different things to different people.
What makes us marry the people we choose to marry? What do we expect from marriage, and how are we sure we’re not shortchanging ourselves somehow?
Take my friend Oz for instance. He told me that “I can live with this and be happy most of the time” is good enough for him. Not so for Victor. For him marriage must be to “someone who makes me feel alive…someone I care about so much that it physically hurts. A woman I want to have sex with everyday and the sex is not the end, but only the beginning of our intimacy…and someone who feels the same about me.” For my friend Emmanuel, it’s about having a shared vision and purpose, what he calls, “the ‘it’ that defines the ‘us’.”
As a fan of “all-consuming love”, I’ve always considered intense connection and passion a must for a successful marriage. But along the line I’ve discovered that what makes for a good romantic relationship does not necessarily make for a good marriage. In her article, “The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough, Lori Gottlieb writes, “Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.”
If this is true, then what’s love got to do with it? Is marriage really more about “having a teammate, even if he’s not the love of your life” just so that you don’t have to live all your days alone, than about spending forever with someone you are deeply and passionately in love with? And for those who require passionate love, is it because their eggs are still fresh and the biological clock isn’t ticking for them yet? Will they change their minds or “settle for less” when they hit the big 30?
I’d like to know, do you think that love as we know it is overrated? Is it the main ingredient in marriage, or is it something not absolutely necessary but “good to have”?
Not that I expect a lot of people to speak up and say they wish they had married for love, or they wish they hadn’t attached so much importance to it and married “sensibly” instead. We like to keep up appearances. Not many will acknowledge that there is trouble in paradise. Very few people are brave enough to warn others not to make the mistake they have, or even admit they miscalculated. It’s those few I’m counting on.
About the Author
Joy Ehonwa is a writer specialising in documentary scripts. She is passionate about self development and relationships. You can read her blog at www.anafricandiva.blogspot.com, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter @joysuo.