relationship vs marriage

September 24, 2012

As I grow older and experience more, I realise that a relationship doesn’t equate to a marriage; Being in a relationship for a long time doesn’t mean you’ll eventually get married to each other; Being happy in a relationship doesn’t mean you’ll be happy as a married couple. A relationship is definitely not the same as a marriage. There is no black & white to document your relationship but for a marriage, a legally binding contract is signed by the couple and vows are made by both parties.

To me, marriage is something extremely sacred. I’m someone who thinks that the marriage certificate means a great deal. I’m someone who will tear when I hear people making sincere marriage vows. I’m someone who will smile to myself unknowingly when I attend weddings.

In a relationship, there is allowance to end it if you don’t think that both of you are suitable for each other or you don’t feel happy together or whatever other reasons there are. There’s not much strings attached. But for a marriage, I feel that it’s ridiculous to get a divorce. I believe that people get married because they want to settle down and build a family. A lot of time, effort and money have to be put in by the couple to plan a wedding and build a family. Imagine the buying of house, renovation work, wedding shoot, wedding banquet, etc. What if you’ve kids as well? It’s irresponsible to get a divorce and let the kids grow up in a broken family. What’s with all the stupid reasons like “we ain’t suitable” or “I don’t love him/her anymore”? Why get married in the first place if you ain’t suitable? What do marriage vows mean to these people? And I can never ever understand or tolerate people who have affairs when they are already married.

All these make me wonder, how do people know who’s the right one for them? What gives people the courage to commit to a marriage? What makes people so certain that you are ready to sign and vow to take the other person as your husband/wife forever?

One Response to “relationship vs marriage”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Hi there

    Let me share with you how I’ve come to answer those questions.

    To find out who’s the right one for you, just list out some must-haves and good-to-haves on a piece of paper. You’ve to do that when you’re not yet in a relationship because once the hormones kick in, it’s almost impossible to think straight sometimes. And also instead of castles in the air terms like “caring”, give examples of how it can be manifested in your life. For caring you may say that your partner will hug you when you cry, or do the dishes, or know enough to give you time to cool down after you are angry. Whatever “caring” can me to YOU. Yes, make sure you have written down some TANGIBLE and OBSERVABLE actions that can help you to evaluate if the person has that trait. Indeed, caring can mean a lot of other things but it’s what is means to you that makes a partner good for you if he/she fulfills your requirement in the way YOU want it.
    Then when someone whom you have chemistry with has those traits, you know you’ve got someone suitable! And they call it “chemistry” because in actual fact the person is causing your body to produce special chemicals to generate those good feelings, those romantic feelings.
    Now, even if you have the right person, bad things and conflicts will still occur. So I suppose it would be important to see how your partner reacts under key situations like conflicts and disappointments caused by YOU. So when bad things happen during dating, it’s time to open your eyes and ears to see how he/she reacts to it.

    What makes people courageous enough to sign up for marriage? Well, many times it’s pressure from parents or friends. Because everyone is doing it. Think about it, if nobody thought about a union between two people, would you have the courage to be the first one? Me not. And many people get married in their 20s or 30s because that’s the time when EVERYBODY ELSE is also getting married.
    Well, yes from a logical perspective it’s quite sad that something so close to the heart is be influenced by group mentality. But we human beings managed to survive the ages because we work in groups and depend on each other. So never mind, just accept it. And within these “social restrictions”, there are still a lot of things you can control, like who you get married to.

    And if you are a girl, which I think you are, be wary of this: no matter how others argue, it is true that a woman’s youthful beauty gradually fades with age. So if a boy says “There’s no need to rush for marriage since we know we love each other” but you feel like getting married already, you have every right to ask for marriage or leave. Because he has nothing to lose, his attractiveness does not change that much but a girl’s attractiveness will gradually diminish with age.

    The answer to your last question: if we try to analyse things logically, we will never be that certain to accept one person forever.

    Here’s why: You would have dated your partner for some time, you know his/her good and BAD habits. However if you look at a new potential partner, you’re only gonna see the good points because people tend to hide bad habits during first meetings. So you’re never going to be able to make a good evaluation of the 3rd party a.k.a. your potential partner. So the grass will ALWAYS SEEM greener on the outside.
    So we are never really that certain that we have made the best choice and that there is no better choice, we just have to choose to do it.

    To build an affair-proof marriage, you have to make sure that you can meet each others needs. I know it’s very unromantic to think about needs. People tend to think of neediness as a weakness. Ok, that’s good for the fairytale. But really, that’s what cause people to go for affairs. Because needs are not met. When the love hormones are at their peak and people feel very good, it’s possible for them to tolerate their unmet needs for a long while. So I suggest that after the relationship has progressed somewhat and you have bonded, start to see what are your needs. Some common needs are need for affection, need for admiration, need for financial independence, need for intimate conversations, need for domestic support etc..
    Enjoy the fairytale while it lasts, think of your partner as having no needs at the start of the relationship, that’s fine and that helps to enhance the chemistry. But once the relationship has progressed on, start to pay attention to needs. Never rush into marriage without considering if you can meet each others’ needs.

    I know we like to think that our spouse will still love us even if we laze about and not work, even if we get into jail, even if we fall sick etc… but if we think deeper, actually we ourselves want meaning for our lives, we don’t want to laze about, we don’t want to get into jail and fall sick etc.
    So it’s ok that you have needs and your partner have needs, in fact you may find great joy in meeting in meeting each others’ needs! In fact you don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing after all!


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