Monday, February 9, 2009

Good reasons not to say 'I do'

Feb 8, 2009

By Anthony Yeo

Chinese New Year is a time of family reunion dinners and to visit relatives and friends.

It is also a time for reuniting with relatives you get to meet only once a year on such an auspicious occasion.

With each encounter with relatives, especially older aunties and uncles, there will be the usual polite conversations to catch up with one another.

For those who are unattached, there will be the inevitable question: 'When are you getting married?'

The idea of being accosted with this perennial question can make singles fight shy of visits altogether. With Valentine's Day approaching, there may be greater pressure to entertain marriage.

The question then is whether marriage is for everyone and should anyone be encouraged, persuaded or enticed into marriage.

I think not.

After all these years of working with troubled marriages and encountering couples in unsatisfactory marriages, I would rather marriage be taken seriously and not be entered into hastily.

The reasons for getting married include: to escape loneliness; to get away from parents and family; to satisfy sexual needs; to buy an HDB flat; to change the character of one's partner; to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all; peer pressure; government urging and baby bonus; and pregnancy.

It is generally accepted that marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment to a relationship.

The romantic ideal promulgates the notion that one gets married to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, the increasing divorce rate and the number of people who seek help for marital woes suggest otherwise. Many discover not long after marriage that it is a relationship fraught with challenges and conflicts.

The relationship can be further strained with the arrival of children along with the demands of career, social commitments and personal pursuits, leaving couples with scarcely any time for building a relationship.

If you cherish life and relationships, it is prudent to resist the temptation to enter into marriage without exploring the possibility of saying 'I don't' before plunging into saying 'I do'.

It may help to be better acquainted with what marriage entails.

It is also wise to look beyond romance to consider the mundane details and routine of marriage and family life. Marriage is neither a prolonged vacation, nor is it an extended honeymoon.

There is also the need to know each other in non-dating contexts to have different experiences and discover each other's idiosyncrasies, habits and quirks.

If there are frequent disagreements and disputes that tend to recur, it is wise to resolve them before committing to marriage.

One can either delay or put off marriage altogether if such disputes persist.

People tend to embrace marriage as a natural transition in life. It does promise fulfilment and enhancement of life.

However, it is not a smooth journey as it can be meandering and bumpy. The increasing divorce rate confirms that it may not be a lifelong relationship.

That is reason enough to pause and think before saying 'I do'.

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