Monday, February 20, 2012

Love and Marriage (Part 1 of 3)

'....Go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other'. Couldn't have said it better myself Mr. Sinatra!

And now, onto pillar number one: Emotional.

This is a pretty obvious one. Love. No marriage without love. Now I’m not talking about the blind, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, fairy tale type love. Let’s set the record straight from the get go and point out that it doesn’t exist, at least not in my books. This is the real world people, welcome!

More often than not, infatuation or even lust is sometimes mistaken for love. When you’re young, it’s easy to confuse either of them for love, but it doesn’t even compare. Infatuation, lust, or even mere fascination are fleeting emotions, they rarely ever stick and in no way provide any stable foundations for a relationship. We need to be honest with ourselves in order to tell the difference and accept it. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, I suppose it takes a lot of strength and time.

I’m talking about having that unique emotional connection with your significant other. It is worth mentioning that with that unique connection comes a myriad of emotions in addition to love. There is compassion, tenderness, caring, respect, affection, trust, understanding and even passion. Granted not all of them could be labeled as ‘emotions’, but you get my drift. There must be a mutual emotional connection between husband and wife. I would love to dwell on it further and start describing that beautiful, special connection (not really), but that connection differs from person to person – it’s unique to every couple. As long as it is there among the two people involved, in whatever form they are comfortable having it in. And just as a marriage is not likely to survive without it, a marriage cannot be built on it alone.

Layla and Majed are now married. They knew each other prior to marriage. They were Arabia’s own Romeo and Juliet; star-crossed lovers. When they were younger they dated for a while, still seen as a taboo among many yet most of our youth still pursue it whether their respective families approve or not. Before getting married it was simple, they loved each other, enjoyed each other’s company and wanted to marry, simple as. Initially their families disapproved for, let’s say, tribal reasons (to really Arab-ise Romeo and Juliet). This is all too common in our culture, refusing marriage based on the family name or status of either or both parties. However some couples ‘fight for their love’ and eventually the families, worried their kids will never get the chance to marry after this, give in. Our star-crossed lovers are elated. So first came love, now comes marriage. Throughout the long and grueling process of wedding preparations, the two neglected to actually address certain issues they might face as a couple, assuming with their relationship before all this, they knew each other well enough. A few issues sprung up here and there such as the type of wedding they would have (Layla’s family being quite conservative, they wanted a small segregated wedding whereas Majed’s liberal family wanted one that would rival Hollywood celebrities). Regardless, the show must go on and these issues have been resolved for the time being (more on the relevance of such issues later). Finally married, with a few hiccups here and there, the couple came back from the honeymoon and now they live under one roof. A month into the marriage, they can’t stand each other. Layla wants to stay home with her husband and cuddle when all he’s been doing is going out with his friends. During major family events on Majed’s side, Layla is taken aback at how his family socializes and resists going every chance she gets. Consequently, Majed’s family dislikes Layla for being such a prude. Likewise, Layla’s family dislikes Majed for corrupting their child and exposing her to something they have tried to shield her from all her life. Neither one of them thought or expected that living together would ultimately change the dynamics of the relationship. They had different versions of ‘happily ever after’. Slowly but surely, they begin to drift apart. The emotional connection they chose to build their future on began to weaken as time went by.

Now I’m not saying that with these precise set of circumstances, that’s how the marriage will end up. Nor am I limiting this topic to those set of circumstances. This is merely to draw a picture of a possible scenario that is all too familiar to me, and to merely point out how love isn’t always enough. As idealistic as one would like to be, a marriage is not likely to survive on love alone. Love is such a powerful emotion, sometimes uplifting and sometimes destructive. So it is important that when one finds love, to handle it with care and respect but also one must take care not to be blinded by it. When all you have is love with everything around you trying to destroy it, you could begin to resent that love and it could grow into hate. I am a believer that the feeling of hate evolves out of love somehow. When you truly dislike someone, you shouldn’t waste your feelings on such a strong emotion as hate unless it stems from love. If you see someone hurting the people you love, or someone you love has hurt you, you feel hatred.  You never truly hate someone because you find them annoying or unappealing. Therefore one must truly be careful with love, to not fall victim to, or be a hostage of love.

That said, with these exact same set of circumstances, things could go brilliantly because in the end, it is all down to how each party chooses to approach the situation they are in and how they choose to deal with it. It all boils down to how they agree to compromise between themselves to salvage that love and make that emotional connection stronger. All it takes is a little bit of foresight with that love, and a whole lot of compromise on both ends, and the love could very well survive if not flourish. If the couple managed to resist their families' influence on the decision of marriage, they should be ok to resist their influence on how the marriage should be, it ultimately remains between them. So to those of you who are super-conservative and believe no marriage can work following a non-marital relationship, that’s not necessarily true, and that is in no way what I’m getting at here. To prove it, let’s look at the flipside of that scenario….next week J

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