The following thoughts are something I always discuss when I find out that someone is about to get married; it’s something I learned during the time I was married and after I got divorced.
In this world there are many romantic people, I’m one of them even if it’s hard to admit, that believe in love as described by Shakespeare, which is, in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ style; where what happens is that someday we meet someone that we go crazy about and simply can’t avoid wanting to be with that person all the time. And if we’re lucky, it will happen the same thing to that person. Is in that situation when we’re willing to die for one another!
I can say, luckily, that this has happened to me more than once, and, to be honest, I love it when it happens; but the simple fact I’m saying it happened more than once is itself an indicator that it hasn’t been forever! Luckily I’m still not dead.
The situation I’m talking about happens really when someone, in the words of Milan Kundera, enters into our poetic memory, this is, we get passionate. But that is not a reason to die for anyone, in fact, the ideal thing would be not to die, or much less.
So that passion grows, and it turns into affection… so now what? Sooner or later comes the question every one makes themselves. Should I marry that person?
Let’s analyze for a moment what is that happens in the affective side: If we define love as a mixture of passion and affection, in time, what happens is something similar to what we see in the following chart:
Where passion, that is the initial force that pushes the relationship forward allowing time for affection to grow, and finally affection, if it indeed gets developed, is what makes the two persons have a time lasting bond that will keep them interested in one another.
Now, this phenomenon happens in any human relationship, in example if we removed the passion component, we’d have something that describes friendship. But this does tell very little about whether we should dedicate our lives or not with the other person. In fact, as I see it, affection is a necessary condition but not enough for marriage to be successful. Not even passion since many of us have the tendency of falling and un-falling for it all the time.
So when should I get married? This depends on other factors, what we have to understand is that getting married is to assume a compromise of executing a joint life project (or several). And this joint life project should align with what we ourselves want of our own life, so first and essentially we should ask ourselves: What is the objective of my life? Then we could ask: What is that thing I want to do with that person such that a lifetime will not be enough to complete? And I want to highlight this since I’ve seen a lot of couples get divorced when kids leave home: Having kids is not a valid reason, at least not by itself, due to the fact that they are not a project of our lives, they have one of their own, and that is something that’s achieved after 9 months, plus the years they take to leave home. It has to be something that comes from one self and that cannot end just like that, clearly children may be one of several projects that the couple has, but not the only one.
On the other side, a big mistake I see many people make is to commit their life to the other person, I mean, the other person being the motif of marriage itself (I made that mistake), since as everything in life, in longer term choices there are always moments of hesitation and, when that happens, if what ties us to the other (besides affection) is not a project that we ourselves desire, then when hard times come we generate resentment, thus weakening affection. Not to mention leaving behind our own projects for the ones of our partner and so making it a commitment to a life that has lost its meaning.
So now it should be clear how projects are really the spine of marriage, and when they end, relationship ends simply because the reason to be together ends, and what keeps the project alive is that faith that we have in one another of both wanting to achieve the same goal.
Now I’m going to stop on a controversial topic, cheating. In the beginning of this post I mentioned that passion and affection are not sufficient conditions to get married and that this happens generally more than once. So why it should be different after having signed the partnership contract? After all neither our nature or our hormones have not changed. Thus infidelity should not be seen as something to be condemned for, but as something natural. But there is a detail to it, generally these type of things introduce doubts towards ourselves and to what degree the other person wants to achieve the life goal, thus is natural that infidelities weaken that faith that I mentioned in the previous paragraph to the degree of extinguishing the force that keep both together.
Infidelities are not the only thing that weakens faith in the project, there are also other factors, such as lack of interest on the other one, disrespect, violence and so on. So we must be alert to these things and fix them.
Finally I’m going to mention conflict. Conflict is normal and to some degree good in a couple because it indicates interest on the project, not having conflict is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should call attention. I honestly believe that when there is a common project, both believe in that project and that project is executed, everything else can be fixed.
With that I conclude my analysis. As always, I wait for comments and hope that this could lead to a good reflection.