|By Tanya Pinto, Canada [ Published Date: July 27, 2003 ]|
These months I have a lot of weddings to attend. The weddings generally are grand affairs with food, drinks and tears overflowing. These are some of my closest friends getting married and I have been around them long enough to have seen their relationships grow and blossom, sometimes even crash abruptly and then be resurrected gently and quietly.
One such relationship is of my friend’s. Having recently been proposed to by her boyfriend, she was in a quandary. To get a less confused perspective than her own, she turned to us, her friends for an answer. During the discussion, the most popular question asked of her was “Do you love him?” and her answer was an unsteady “Yes”. The reasoning of my friends went something like this. He loves you. You love him. So what is stopping you?!? What was stopping her indeed? Her reluctance to get married was perplexing. Shouldn’t she be jumping for joy and ready to plan another lavish affair for us to attend. She had already graduated from university, established herself in a good job, she apparently loved the guy and there were no unnecessary problems like different religion, caste, or culture being thorns. So, what was stopping her indeed?
Hmmmm, what should be the basis for marriage? Depending on cultural background and life experiences, answers will undoubtedly vary. It makes sense for love to be the basis of marriage. Certainly out of love, comes a deep commitment for one’s partner that can and will give strength to the married individuals in “good times and bad, through sickness and health…” But the more intriguing question is can an individual have the same deep-rooted commitment to marriage without having the prerequisite all encompassing love as demanded by the movies, songs and television. Just as it makes sense for love to be the basis for marriage, it makes infinite sense for the two individuals in a marriage to have a strong sense of commitment to the idea of marriage in order for their union to be a lasting one.
How far should you take the idea of commitment? For example, should a wife walk out of the marriage if her husband develops a drug addiction and uses the family’s income to finance his drug habit? Or should she stick with her husband and help him overcome his addiction through steadfast love and determination born of that love? Can the same reason and logic used to justify her commitment to the marriage be extended to the wife who refuses to leave her wife-beating husband?
In Canada recently, they have legalized the union of same sex couples. This controversial issue raises many questions about the basis of marriage and its purpose in society. Proponents of the same sex marriage ask if two people love each other why can they not marry? Love is seen as the basis for marriage. But should it be? Just because two people love each other should they then be married? And should we extend the boundaries of marriage to extend to all those who love each other??
By its very indefinable, strongly emotional and temperamental nature, love is often elusive and often misunderstood. We all know of couples that swore of their undying love to each other only to part company hating each other six months later. So the question needs to be asked. Should loving the other person be the only required prerequisite to get married as was asked of my friend?
Can you, for example, have a successful lasting marriage with a person you don’t “love” but just “like”? This question can only be answered by those among us who are wise enough to know the difference between the two faces on the same coin. Certainly, a society or culture that emphasizes only love as the basis of marriage is simplifying the idea of marriage to the point of implausibility. Likewise, a society or culture that emphasizes only commitment to the idea of marriage as the basis of marriage is doing a similar disservice towards contributing to the understanding of marriage.
Something I read once that went like this.
Many girls pray to marry the man they love,
But I humbly pray to my Father above
To love the man I marry.
The few lines above represent a healthy commitment and respect towards the institution of marriage and the love that is necessary for a marriage to be forever everlasting.
If you are wondering about my friend, she is getting married sometime in the summer of next year. I attended the engagement party two weeks ago. She is still not sure…and neither can I make her sure. Her wedding will be one that I will no doubt remember for times to come simply because of the issues it raised. Questions always abound but answers are harder to come by for those of us who don’t have access to the wisdom of life experiences to suggest the right course of action.