On Getting Married

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“结婚是爱情的坟墓”. That means “marriage is the grave of love”, which I think is a pretty pessimistic yet realistic view of things.

It takes a long time to know a person, to see through all the masks one puts on in his/her daily life. An incomplete view is very detrimental to a good marriage. One month? Half a year? I would say at least a couple of years at least to know someone. The best time to know someone is in my opinion, while attending school. That is the period of time when people are the most honest. For the most part, youngsters have not learned how to put on social masks yet. Exceptions do apply though especially with people from unstable families.

To know someone means to know all the good and bad things about that person, with a focus on the latter. Once married, bad aspects must be tolerated. Before? There is still that choice to make on whether to accept it or not. From personal experience, just knowing is not enough. For example, knowing my spouse gets angry easily doesn’t mean it is easier to live with all the temper bursts. Still it is better than being caught by surprise after marriage. Nothing kills passion faster than realizing an intolerable aspect of that special someone.

The other reason that love fades is that it gets replaced by the mundaneness of maintaining a family. Changing diapers is hardly romantic. The gradual degradation of physical attractiveness in the comfort of a marriage is another. As I like to put it…“白头肥到老” or “get old and fat together”.

It is not all bad for “love” to be replaced by other priorities of life. We can’t live on it after all despite what some people may claim. After marriage, there is a switch to a “long distance running” mode. Conversely, dating is the equivalent of a “sprint”. No one can do that forever. Basically you pace yourself and delight in the small and short lovable moments your spouse gives you. The moments that makes you think that you made a good choice. If a switch is not made, steam will run out and the relationship sours.

In this respect, I think it is not a bad idea to live with someone for a while before marriage or to even have pre-marital sex. It is all part of the process of knowing someone. Marriage may be reversible through divorce but that still brings a lot of grief and bad blood. (Now I have 2 daughters and I can totally see myself being double standard here 10+ years down the road…) Prearranged marriages are just about the worst. Playing lots with your lifelong happiness is hardly a good idea. As parents, seriously don’t do it with your kids life.

A note though that people do change. Some character aspects may not be apparent even to the person in question until after marriage. As such it is not possible to completely know someone. The best one can do is just to remove as many nasty surprises as possible. Such hidden traits are not very always bad though. I for one didn’t realize I like to cook until after being married. I can tell you my wife totally liked this part…hah.

“相爱容易相处难”. That means it is easier to fall in love than to get along. Some variants on this saying but they all focus on the difficulty in living with someone. Marriage means acceptance and tolerance. In short? “Suck it up”. You made your choice, now live with it, for better or worse.

And that is the decision someone has to make when that paper is signed. Better think long and hard before you do it. It is way better than getting a “oh shit” moment after or a few…

 

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