Till reality do us part!
By James Lutaaya Esq.:
Never has a sentence been said with uncertainty than, 'Till death do us part.' This oath of many a marriage is breached by an average 40% in the world through divorces.
The brave, selfless, genuinely happy (and lucky to find a similar spirited soul mate) and realistic ones about marriage, last the distance; the rest, the stories are endless. This institution is a social engineering journey bequeathed with several phases.
Courtship usually involves model spouse mannerisms with one behaving like they have read the manual on how to be God's gift to their 'other half.' All the 'nasty' habits are temporarily put on hold. This is the phase in which couples compromise most in their relationship.
Everyone seems to get what they want from the other. The marriage proposal is equally eccentric; with the man getting the biggest sweat in his life, either because of fear of the uncertainty of eternal commitment or excitement of manning up and making an honest woman of his loved one.
The woman on the other hand is genuinely happy at the commitment shown by the man and the security marriage gives.
Stag and hen nights become legitimised permission from each of the would-be spouses to the other to go out and enjoy themselves, worry free. These liberties are lost on marriage. The climax to all this comes at the marriage ceremony.
To most people, this is a time in their lives where no matter what their position in society, they are the cynosure of the ceremony. The best man is like a hired spokesman whose speech can never be taken in court as a sworn testimony.
But again, this is supposed to be a celebration of 'love' and if there are any shortcomings with either of the spouses, it is believed love can conquer them later, a travesty that a few overcome. Reality however, sets in when all the fussing is over and it is time for husband and wife to 'live happily ever after.'
As the honeymoon comes to an end and every witness has moved on with their lives, the bubble of the simplicity of marriage sets in. It is the time when why they got into marriage is deeply reflected on and an assessment of whether it has been worth it comes to the fore.
Among the issues that crop up include, material gains, unplanned pregnancies, convenience, attaining a spouse's citizenship, social and religious expectations. The trouble is most of these are not a strong foundation on which to maintain a lifetime relationship. Even genuine love for each other at times falls short.
Marriage will at times make people feel shackled. When children arrive or property is registered in each other's names, among other things, these become vehicles of bondage that you cannot easily extricate yourself from.
You find you've fallen out of love and literally co-habiting and living each day as it comes, just sharing your financial and social responsibilities. Coming out of that situation is not easy as divorce comes with implications.
For instance, one may look at it as conceding to all the people that helped in your marriage that you have failed them. You may look at the repercussions of full/shared custody of the children and who keeps what. With time, familiarity breeds contempt.
Africans can, however, take heart in the fact that the marriage institution is still held in high regard here.
But after all is said and done, marriage is an institution that should be a worthy venture. It should not be entered into, however, for any other reason but genuine love for one another and a belief that you both want to spend the rest of your lives together and are willing to compromise in times of difficulty.
As Chris Rock the comedian asserted, love also has a sadistic reward about it in most cases and we often end up settling for second best because our first loves seem to have slipped through our fingers. Whether that is good enough to last a lifetime depends on one's optimism or pessimism.