From the moment little girls can dream, we are shown images of life as a grown up. Notably one aspect of life is at the forefront, picture the white wedding, the princess like dress, the flowers, the cake, the dream boat husband...the list goes on. From such an early age the seed of the ultimate fairytale marriage is planted.
As we grow from toddler to teenager to self assured twenty-something, we are on the look out for the man to play our partner in this fairytale life we have been told about in so many deluded story books. We hope he has all the characteristics of prince charming; tall, dark, handsome, strong, basically the hero to protect and save us from the evils the world will throw at us. He will battle dragons, thrash through forests, climb tall buildings in a single bound (oh wait that's Superman), to rescue us from the baddie.
However, as we age and experience more than one Mr Wrong, what is neglected from our education on marriage is how difficult at times it will be. I am by no means even an iota close to being married, may have to find the boyfriend first, but I have many friends who are. The gift they have given me is insight into the process of planning the wedding, the strain it can put on the relationship, and the hiccups which can be expected after the shine of the wedding day is gone.
What I have learned is the importance of discussing all aspects of married life and especially the life ahead of you both as a partnership. A life which will be built by both of you. Often trivial details take precedence such as what colour the bridesmaids will wear, or will the best men wear suits, and the important issues, such as how will we parent our children, household responsibilities and many more, take a back seat.
I think there needs to be a reform in the way we teach our little girls about marriage. We need to focus less on the fairytale trivial aspects, and teach our girls (and boys) the importance of being a great partner. We need to stress to our children the importance of focusing on the qualities needed in ourselves first, and then the partner we choose, to ensure a marriage is successful. After all, when the dress is back in its box, the photo album takes its rightful place on the coffee table, and friends and family move onto the next wedding, what you are left with is the day to day life with your partner. Suddenly, 50+ years seems more important than 8 hours of festivities in a pretty dress.
Recently I have learned of the difficulty a close friend is experiencing in her marriage. Her husband has changed since the wedding and she is puzzled. She is unhappy, often in tears and her husband is more preoccupied with his interests than devoting his attention to his wife. Obviously I am unaware of his side of the story, but surely seeing your wife, someone who you promised to love and to cherish from this day forward, is visibly crying and telling you they are unhappy you would want to find out what is wrong? Am I wrong in thinking that this would be a priority?
I can't comprehend how anyone, married or not, is able to dismiss the feelings of another person. I am genuinely worried about my friend. She has tried to talk to her husband but he seems to not want to hear her. I feel like paying said husband a visit and throttling him. Once the ring is on the finger doesn't mean one can take a back seat and take advantage of their partner. Neither partner should become a slave to the other, nor hold the other to ransom emotionally making them feel worthless or deserving of anything less than best in the world. My friend is one of the most caring, thoughtful and giving people I know. She always puts others before herself and she deserves the BEST life can offer. It makes me very upset to think that someone who is meant to love her unconditionally and promised to love her forever has such disregard for her happiness.
Love is meant to conquer all, but what happens when one person in the relationship refuses to listen to the other? Do you stay in a one sided relationship being the only one trying to fix a problem which your partner is ignoring, or do you call it quits? I have always believed that divorce is too easy an option these days, but if your marriage makes you desperately unhappy and you have tried everything to fix it, maybe it is the only option that makes sense.
When the time comes and I find my Mr Right, one thing is for sure, I will work on the marriage, not the wedding prior to the big day of declaration. I have learned that communication, understanding and compassion will be high on my list of priorities to make our marriage work long after the cake has been consumed and the honeymoon is over.