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Making Your Marriage Work

Many couples are so caught up with the pomp and ceremony surrounding the wedding, the actual vows is completely overshadowed. It seems there are far more important things to take note of other than the vows you repeat nervously after the celebrant or officiator. Once the couple is pronounced man and wife, chances are they have a fuzzy recollection of what they have just promised each other.

Research has shown, almost half of all marriages end in divorce; and experts have noticed the alarming trend that most of these unions end within the first two years of marriage. The irony of these break-ups is that the unions are based on more than five years of dating. Studies point to the fact that while many know what love is, they are unaware of the demands and expectations of married life. Many couples enter into marriage expecting the relationship to run on autopilot, and when the end comes, they simply shrug and say, “It just didn’t work.” The newspaper recently reported that more and more couples are visiting their lawyers to help draft a prenuptial agreement. While practical, the irony of the popularity of such an agreement signals that many people enter into marriage expecting it to end in divorce.

Do not for one minute fall for that “happy ever after” ending of fairy tales, with visions of the hero and heroine riding off into the sunset. Having grown up on a diet of children’s fables, fairy tales, romance, novels and Hollywood movies, many of us wake up the morning after with a rude shock. Dating daily for several years with the frequent weekend stay-overs, are still not preparation enough.

There are many entertaining anecdotes about marriage that reveal a very disturbing mind-set. One joke goes: The cheapest way to get a live-in maid is to get married. While another pokes fun at the guys with: A husband is the only bolster in the world that fills up with age. Comic relief aside, the attitude is rather worrying.

Countless reasons are given for breakdowns, errant ways and divorces, and many blame their spouses for the problems in their marriage. Often it is the “I and you” attitude that causes the rift. Early on in the marriage, many couples agree to maintain individuality and not to stifle the other party. This agreement may be acceptable with young couples as they start getting acquainted with each other. However, this agreement will have to be replaced with a newer arrangement: A “WE” contract. Popular pronouns “I”, “me” and “my”, must be replaced by “we”, “us” and “ours” for the marriage to work.

Marriage is a team effort and individualism has to be set aside for the “corporate” good. For a marriage to work, both parties must be committed to making the union work and suppress individual needs, attitudes and opinions.

Commitment is the basic infrastructure for every marriage. As there is no such thing as a happy-ever-after-marriage, couples have to brace themselves for the good times and for the bad too. Marriage is tough and it is only with commitment that husband and wife will be able to ride out the turbulence.

Closely related to commitment is willpower – the discipline to keep to the promises that you made in the wedding vows and abide by them. Only then will the most important aspect of a marriage take place: Two complex individuals slowly being moulded into one entity. All will be well, when two become one.