Is a contract - always read the small print
Let us begin by understanding the true roots behind the concept of marriage. As far back as we can date throughout history, the ancient institution of marriage was arranged not because couples were madly in love but for economic reasons. This alliance between families still exists today in some cultures.
The primary purpose of marriage in the beginning was to bind women to men and guarantee the man’s children were his true heirs. So, in short, women became a man’s property. Hebrew men could have several wives. Greek and Roman were free to satisfy themselves with prostitutes and young males whilst the wife remained alone in the home doing the chores and producing legitimate heirs. Ancient fathers would hand over their daughters in exchange for money and land. If the wives failed to produce offspring husbands could hand them back and find someone else to wed instead.
Over many years hundreds of years, the institution of marriage has evolved into a magical fairy-tale that although has all the trappings of every girls dream life, the reality is often more of a nightmare. Being a princess for a special day in a glitzy ball gown, surrounded by fair maidens with matching dresses and flowers in a religious setting, followed by an extravagant banquet is the template these days for a happy ever after ending.
If we actually look at the divorce rate right now which is around 50% of couples ending their union for one reason or another, often infidelity by the husband, it is plain to see that this marriage template is not realistic or sustainable. Marriage in short is the process by which two people make their relationship official and permanent till death do them part but in practice is often cut short by separation and divorce.
Peoples own personality traits and bad habits remain consistent throughout their lives, so when couple’s express frustration with each other after years of marriage, it is often about issues that were present when they first met. The truth is at the beginning of the fairy-tale, bad habits and less agreeable personality traits are either ignored or hidden in the early stages of love dismissed as unimportant.
The biggest aspect of marriage especially for men is the commitment to having healthy regular sexual intimacy with one person for the rest of their lives. Sex is normally a hugely positive fun aspect for most married couples at the beginning but like any other aspect of a long-term familiar union, complacency, resentment, and boredom inevitably arise. Emotional and lifestyle issues can change how one or both partners feel about the physical intimacy in the marriage and this can fuel unbearable insecurities over the longer term.
Maintaining long-term fun and excitement in any relationship is much easier said than done, especially when it comes to juggling having a family, busy jobs, and with little time to relax and talk. People who are courageous enough to communicate openly about their issues, can find ways to strengthen the bond they have built together over the years but those who shy away from talking often end up bitter and insecure about their own self-image.
If you are married already it might shock you to know or even put your mind at rest you are not alone if you are no longer intimate or your desire for sex has waned. An estimated 80% of married couples will experience different levels of desire when it comes to sex. It is often women who are less likely to instigate sexual contact with their partner because their sex drive is lower and they require more romance to get things moving.
Men tend to be more sexually motivated and think about sex subconsciously more than women. Romance is made up in the minds of women and take us back to the magical fairy-tale beginning without a happy ever after ending. Sadly, love and sexual chemistry are not always enough to hold a couple together because life changes and we change over time too.
It is so important to understand as much about each other as possible before becoming entwined as one in a marriage union and even then we cannot always rely on what we see through love goggles, especially if the relationship is all about just sex or getting one down the aisle. Our expectations about marriage really do need to change if we want to be happy, fulfilled and purpose driven.
When couples get hitched, they make all kinds of unrealistic promises in the marriage contract because that is what it is by its nature, a contract of promises never to be broken. When you truly start to think about this without the rose tinted specs, what we expect and assume of each other is in conflict with what we do.
The truth is, after all the unrealistic promises made on the magical day many married couples end up confused, feeling trapped because they no longer want or need what they used to want and need for themselves. How can any marriage possibly work when one or both partners is constantly changing the goalposts to suit their ever-changing moods, needs and wants?
My advice based on many years of experiencing relationships and marriage, both personally and through counselling others, is simple.
We must be realistic and understand early on in this life, another person cannot fill our emptiness or become our purpose to exist. Only we can do this for ourselves. We are all humans with limitations, fears. We all have genuine struggles finding our own way through life and it is not an easy journey, especially if we have made promises we cannot fulfill to someone else. No one can save us, fill the hole in the soul or lift us up when we hit rock bottom.
We must feel pain to grow, mature and take control of our own lives, our own needs, and desires before we can promise to worship and obey the wishes and desires of another. Life is full of disappointments as well as exciting possibilities but to experience true love we must let go of the idea that another person can ever save the day. When we give up the fairy-tale, we enter the beginning of something way more realistic and sustainable.