The sacred institution of marriage that has governed and influenced our lives for centuries, now has begun to be questioned and is perhaps losing the respect it was once held.

Recently a young man in his early thirties was explaining to me why exactly marriage was not his cup of tea. ‘I have seen several of my friends get married,’ said he, ‘and now they are either terribly frustrated or divorced. Now why would I want to put myself in that position?’ Hmm, I think to myself, exactly how many of us are drawn towards this train of thought?

‘Why should I get married now?’ I hear a twenty-one year old strongly discourage her parents from their search for prospective grooms. ‘I want to study further, settle my career…marriage can wait! I am not prepared to cook and clean after another, let alone look after kids! No way, that is so not me!’ The flabbergasted parents really do not have much of a say in the matter and several years later, they slowly come to terms with the fact that wanting grandchildren might just be wishful thinking.

Then there are still others who want to get married and yearn for family life, but circumstances have not led them to find the ‘right one’. Proposal after proposal they sieve through, hoping and wishing as the calendar passes them by. A successful career they may have, an independent existence, a loving family, but after a certain point in time there is within them that void that perhaps only marriage can fill.

So far, I have left out those who are engaged or planning their wedding as it is obvious that they have already made the decision to marry, but even they must take a few moments to explore their reasons for welcoming marriage. Do I want to get married because my parents want me to, society expects that of me, my friends and/or siblings are married, I see couples all around and wishI had what they have, I am lonely, I am scared that no-one would be there for me when I require it, or because I want to secure my boyfriend/girlfriend’s commitment to me? Or am I wanting to unconditionally love and give of myself, set up a home and family and be a steadfast companion? In other words, do I look to gain from a marriage or give to it? Is it not strange that we tend to ask, ‘Is he/she right for me?’ instead of, ‘Am I right for him/her?’…

Coming back to our young man’s statement, do we really look at divorce as the consequence of marriage and therefore the reason to avoid marriage altogether? When divorce rates escalate, is it not marriage but the two people involved that are responsible? Marriage by itself does not curtail one’s freedom, limit one’s choices and invite boredom or routine – it is the choices one makes within the marriage. What marriage does offer though, is the opportunity to continue life’s journey with a beloved other by your side, a chance to uphold each other and be there for each other through thick and thin, for better or for worse and during ups and downs. If the two of you decide to walk in two different directions, or if one decides not to walk at all, is the marriage to be blamed?

Nobody promises marriage to be a bed of roses – far from it. There is no such thing as an ideal marriage, but there are happy marriages, built on commitment, trust and love. We may never know why it appears to evade those who seek it and plague those who run from it, but we do know that sharing one’s life with another can evoke immense joy, as can it immense pain.

So, to marry or not to marry? Well, that is of course for you to decide for yourself. However I would caution you to pay heed to base your decision on the right reasons, as this is one choice that will tremendously impact your life and guide its course…

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