Have our young adults given up on Marriage?
Marriage is a legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman).
A commonly accepted and encompassing definition of marriage is the following: A formal union and social and legal contract between to individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.
Marriage is defined differently, and by different entities, based on cultural, religious, and personal factors.
Talking to my fourteen-year-old daughter, her first expression when I asked her about what her thoughts of marriage was her response was “Am scared of getting a divorce” and I asked why? She said because “it might not work out” …………. Hmmmm. This is the dilemma we face today. She believes that the stigma has changed, people do not see the rush in getting married, the divorce rates are not encouraging, doubt whether it would work, are people ready for the commitments that it entails. When you think of everything that might go wrong – why get married, why not just have live in partners?
When I was growing up, marriage was/is a beautiful thing and almost like a fairy tale, which most girls could not wait to experience, however I am seeing the increased reluctance of our young girls today. Are they indeed scared of the things that my fourteen-year-old daughter has listed above? Or are there more insights or reasons for this?
I went into marriage based on my family beliefs, cultural beliefs and religious beliefs. This was based on the fact that marriage was a life-time commitment – you were in it for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health and till death do us part. Those were the vows that a lot of took when we were getting married and I believe that we all took these commitments at those times wholeheartedly.
There are five pillars that help us achieve a healthy and strong marriage by Steve wright, which I elaborate on based on my personal experience:
1. Love – We must ensure we fully understand the meaning of Love. A lot of us go into relationships thinking we love the other person but might just love certain aspects of the individual such as physical appearances, be just an infatuation. What we must understand is that Love is patient, Love is kind. Love does not envy, love does not boast, Love is not proud, Love is not rude, its not self-seeking, Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. These are the qualities of Love and we must all embrace these qualities/actions to help our relationships and marriage. Our children/young adults must learn to Love as much as they want to be loved. They must understand that it is a two-way action and that once you show love to people its very contagious and these individuals would automatically love you back. You cannot expect what you cannot give. Love is about giving without expecting back and not about feeling.
2. Trust – A healthy marriage cannot be built and sustained without trust. Trust is very easy to build initially but once breached or broken very difficult to restore. Trust issues in most marriages is always based around infidelity, honesty and bad behaviors. Most people fail with regards to infidelity because they have gone into their various marriages for the wrong reasons or have not truly loved their spouses. With regards to honesty most people do not put all their
cards on the table when they are dating people. We then to want to show the good sides of ourselves and not share the “all”. Whilst dating you are to share as much as you can with you partner to ensure they fully have the bigger picture and decide to love you for who you are. Most relationships today are based on more material than emotional foundations.
3. Respect – This is one topic that I can write a full article on. Respect is very critical but an area that our younger one’s struggle with. Respect should be shown to your partner because you value them. The question we must ask ourselves is “How much do I value my spouse?”. If you value your spouse, then respect comes naturally. Respect should not be tied to financial ability. I say this because a lot of the young ladies that I mentor always tell me that they find it difficult respecting a man that can not afford to look after them. Whilst its great that a man must try and support and provide for his family, we are seeing more and more women becoming more independent and probably earning more than their spouses. This privilege must not be misused to disrespect your spouse to avoid friction in the marriage. This also is the case for men that are the breadwinners and have their spouses being stay at home mum’s, you should respect your spouse for the sacrifice of giving up their career to stay at home.
4. Understanding – You must understand each other. We must take the time to understand and study each other before committing to getting married. You are not going to know all of each other before marriage, but at least you must have a very good idea of what makes your spouse tick and not tick. You must understand their culture, beliefs, religion, ambition, drive, habits – good and bad, family – very critical as marriage involves the extended family as well. Understand whether they are social or introverted, you must also understand their expectations of you and you of them. Understanding one’s spouse is vital in order to ensure that one will be able to show respect, communicate effectively, and be what that other person needs.
5. Faith – faith is the understanding that there is something larger and bigger than self. I would also say this links to being selfless. Your concern should be more with the needs and wishes of your spouse than with one’s own. This is a very difficult topic to convince our younger generation. Every time I try and speak to them about this, I lose the argument, because they just cannot see themselves as not looking out for themselves first before others. They tell me its easy for my generation because I am not from their generation…. Not sure what this means! I think its just because they are unable to be selfless and compromise. It must be there way or the highway. What they seem to forget is that if you put your spouse’s need first before your’ s then your spouse would automatically do the same. I am not saying that some people would not take advantage, however if you are indeed married to someone who loves, respects, trusts you and fully understands you then it would be very difficult for them to take advantage without it being obvious.
Marriage is indeed an institution and a lifetime learning institution. I talk to people than have been happily married for so long and they share their experiences with me. It a journey, with a lot of ups and downs, the roads are straight, narrow, crooked, rough, smooth etc. Marriages go through so many phases in life depending on the various stages in life i.e. newlyweds, when the children start coming, when the children start growing up, when they leave home etc. However, it is a beautiful experience that we must encourage our children and younger ones to embark on. I have some work to do on my fourteen-year-old as well, however we all have a responsibility to mentor and coach our younger ones with facts. We must not sugar coat things for them and give them the false impression on marriage. We must let our male children understand the expectations from them in marriage and let our young ladies
know the expectations of them as well. We must let them know the good, the bad and the ugly so they know what they are signing off for. They must not compare other people’s experiences with theirs. You can learn from others but don’t assume that your mother/father’s marriage experience would be what your is. You must learn form their marriages but not stereotype that all marriages are going to end up like theirs. We should learn to ensure that you compliment each other and not compete against each other. In our changing world and economy, roles might change within the marriage, both spouses must see this as a partnership/Joint venture and not a competition. Be ready to each take responsibility for certain things and be appreciative of each other. Sometimes one might not be financially active but then substitute with other things that compensate for that area i.e. giving up time etc.
With all these said… Why are we still seeing high divorce rates? Is it because that we are becoming less tolerant? Are our values and beliefs based on the 5 pillars not relevant anymore? Do we lack patience? Are we going into the marriage with the wrong expectations? Are we preparing our children for marriage or are we just allowing them to define and prepare themselves?
There is some responsibility and accountability required of us as parents, aunties, and uncles to ensure we support and prepare our children for this thing called marriage. Mother/Aunties – we need to ensure our daughters and nieces, understand what is expected of them in marriage. Do we teach them respect, compromise, how to clean, cook, take care of themselves etc as we encourage them to be very independent, we must also equip them with other soft skills as mentioned above? We must teach them to respect their brothers and start practicing those skills with their brothers, dad at home. We should also teach our sons and nephews how to do the same cooking, cleaning, respect for their sisters, mothers, and wife in future. We must teach them to be responsible, take care and love their wife like Christ loved the church.
For the fathers – you must treat and love your wife’s like Christ loved the church. The way you treat your wife is what your son sees and thinks a woman should be treated. Your daughters would also accept same from their future husbands as that is how they have seen their fathers treat their mother. I always tell people that we never prescribe things to our children, however they watch us and emulate what they see. We are all role models to them and so we must ensure we behave the way we want them to behave in the future.
We must be positive role models to our children and ensure that we pass on the right culture and belief to them. We must love them, so they understand what love is and are able to them ascertain when someone loves them. As a child my father taught, me what true love was, so that was the standard I expected from any man that wanted to marry me. I was very clear that if a man did not love me like my father did, he was not worth it. We must get our daughters to do the same, so they do not accept substandard spouses. For the boys, they need to be aware of the same love as well and ensure they are able to ascertain when a woman really loves them for the right reasons.
There are four tips that I would like to leave with each and everyone of us about marriage:
· Know yourself and share that knowledge with your spouse
· Know how to trust your spouse even if there are doubt. Be deliberate about building the trust.
· Know how to forgive and forget. Talk about mistakes and move on. Do not hold on to the past as it limits your from moving forward.
· Always compromise. Compromise! Compromise!! Compromise!!! You might have to accept standards that are lower than is desirable. Not saying you accept and not do anything about it. Accept it knowing that you both come from different backgrounds etc. so you might have to collectively work on these areas to get the other to your desired standard. This must be done with love and not in a disrespectful way.