In her novel entitled ‘Sense and Sensibility’, Jane Austen once said, “When I fall in love, it will be forever”. She must have been envisioning a situation where she would meet a person who will inspire her to love with her every sense; smell, taste, sight, touch, and heart. She must have been visualizing her life beginning and ending with that person.
Being in love, as in Jane Austen’s dream, awakens two souls and leads them to want to spend the rest of their life together, and to start that ‘rest of their life’, which is otherwise called marriage, matrimony or wedlock, as soon as possible.
Be that as it may, Jane Austen evidently did not know a few things about being in love and marriage. The state of being in love slowly starts dwindling after marriage; and when this happens what remains should be love. “Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away”, said Louis de Bernières in the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
Like the American author and poet Henry David Thoreau said, “Love is going confidently in the direction of your dreams”, regardless of the many issues that confront married life. “Love is absolute loyalty. People fade, looks fade, but loyalty never fades. You can depend so much on certain people; you can set your watch by them. And that’s love, even if it doesn’t seem very exciting”, said the actor, Sylvester Stallone.
Many will confess that getting married, staying married and having a happy marriage are three very different things. They will confess that, in order to keep love and happiness in a marriage, it takes effort and a few lessons must be continually learned in the process; one of which is that, just like every rose has it’s own thorns, each marriage partner has a weakness. All humans have weaknesses, and strengths too. In order to get the best out of the spouse’s strengths, it is critical not to focus too much on their weaknesses.
A second lesson is that everyone has a dark history. Like Mark Twain once said, ‘Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which is never shown to anybody.’ With the understanding that the past can’t be changed and that, “No one is an angel”, avoiding to dig a spouse’s past and focusing on the present and the future surely helps a great deal.
One more lesson is that every shinning marriage has gone through its own challenges. Marriage is one of the most wonderful and fulfilling things in the world, but marriages go through seasons, some of them good and others not so good. The main causes of these challenges revolve around finances, peers, raising children, communication, rumors, lack of forgiveness, stubbornness, being too busy, pride, disappointment, sex, temptation, and discontentment. Deliberate mutual efforts are necessary in order to face and overcome hard times together; and to not compare the marriage with any other marriage; because there is no perfect marriage.
There is no perfect marriage and no marriage is like any other. A successful marriage is one where each partner gives total commitment, with love being what glues them together. It is one where each party understands that the spouse is raw and can be molded to what is desired, with love, prayer and encouragement. It is one where each party is psychologically prepared to accommodate the inevitable occurrences in marriage, such as pregnancy, increase in body size, appearance of a pot belly, lack of children, interference from family and in-laws, inadequate finances, and even joblessness.
It is one where each marriage partner “Has a short memory and a lot of forgiveness” as advised by the professional volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece. It is one where, “No matter what challenges might carry partners apart, they will always find a way back to each other”, as testified by Leo in the 2012 American romantic drama film ‘The Vow’. It is one where marriage partners pass through life at each other’s side, are each other’s second self, and are the best earthly companions; as observed by Charlotte Brontë in her novel, ‘Jane Eyre’.
A lot of these things may sound small, but marriage is an investment, where the payoff is enormous when each partner makes small deposits of love, giving, sacrifice, and commitment over time; as opposed to when partners make no deposits at all, but keep making withdrawals; before long there is no investment left.