Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Points to Ponder – My Take 3 on Staying Married

“You need to ask yourself whether you want to be right or stay married”, one of my friends remarked as four grown up men discussed marriage experiences while observing pigs on a pig farm. We all had interesting takes on how our marriages have survived and how our parents have stayed married for what seems like an eternity while we divorce left, right and center every other day. This was good advice to me as I grew up believing that I was born never to lose an argument, a belief that has fortunately been tampered by age now. Nevertheless I have still been known to try to prove that I am right when I get into an argument with Janet! I did not mention it then (maybe for fear of sounding like a sissy) but for me, there are three quotations/phrases that I learned some times that I have always held dear when it comes to the “business” of being married. I don’t necessarily practice them faithfully but so far I think they have served me well (maybe my wife could be thinking otherwise?). And they form my points to ponder for this week:

“Most people get married believing a myth – that marriage is a beautiful box full of the things they have longed for. Companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people and people put it into marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.” – J. Allan Petersen (Homemade)

The second passage:

“When I was in college, one of the professors said to us, his students, ‘the secret of successful marriage is this: marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. A 50/50 proposition is one where nobody is giving anything.

‘Rather, the secret of a happy marriage is 60/40. The husband gives 60% of the time and expects the wife to give 40% of the time. The wife gives in 60% of the time and expects the husband to give in 40% of the time. In a 60/40 proposition, you don’t clash in the middle and say, “now it’s your turn”. Instead you intersect and overlap because you are each giving 60%’” – Robert Scinller, Be an Extraordinary Person in an Ordinary World (Fleming Revell)

And finally:

“Those who want to become happy should not marry. The important thing is to make the other one happy. Those who want to be understood should not marry. The important thing is to understand one’s partner.” Hermann Oeser

And that is all I have to say on that before I start getting mistaken for a marriage counselor!


  1. Interesting...iv been told give all and expect nothing back!

  2. Hi Njehia, even if you are to expect nothing back I hope you still getting the "all" that the other party is giving. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  3. I heard this line in a movie long ago, whose name escapes my memory. It says something along these lines: I need someone who can witness my daily actions and learn to love them as his own. I found that beautiful.

    Those small insignificant actions which are so very peculiar to us being observed and loved is one of the best things a marriage can offer. Well, one might argue that these small actions could be observed by anyone but trust me, no one but an intimate person will take that kind of time and patience.

    I am soon to be married and I am quite anticipating the new phase which is oft imagined but never felt until one is truly there.

    Nice post and timely for me.

    Thanks OtienoHongo.

    Joy always,

  4. This is such a beautiful post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am saddened to see how callously marriage is treated by a large majority of people today. As a catholic, I believe marriage is a sacred and unbreakable bond between a man and woman. It will be difficult and there may be times that it doesn't feel worth it, times we want "out" or don't really feel in love but the most important thing I was ever told about love and in turn, marriage is not to rely on feelings. They change constantly. Love is an action and a decision we make. We can choose to love our partner even when we don't feel like it or they drive us mad, etc. Marriage is like a never ending lesson and very worth it.:)

  5. Hey Susan, thanks for stopping by! Congratulations and I hope your marriage lasts forever!

    Thanks for your comments Collen, it is true that it is indeed an ever ending lesson!

  6. I'm loving your post in an age where people seem to take marriage so cavalierly. It is nice to see that some people are thinking seriously about the subject and recognizing that marriage is not to be idealized but is hard work. I think any relationship is hard work if it is going to be good but especially in marriage where your spouse will see you warts and all. It is good to try and make sure you choose wisely and not just with your eyes ;-) I once heard a pastor say that marriage is a process of helping you grow as a person as it will stretch you and challenge you. The marriage partnership, will, if you let it, show you your weaknesses and help you overcome them and ultimately become a better person. I haven't fully done his sermon justice but that is about the gist of it. Best wishes on your continued partnership.

  7. Hi Joyful, thanks for your comments. Very profound insights from the pastor!

  8. This is an interesting post - I would say that for the first 14 yrs of marraige we were content; but then as our circumstances changed my husband became too dependant upon alcohol and the the situation just got gradually worse. I left after we had been married for 28 years, we were not enemies, he was my best friedn but I just couldn't live with the self-destruction. Sadly he has now passed on but I genuinely believe the last of your quotes is the one which suits me now.

  9. it was a very very educative post

    Filling up the box...I know friends who just got married to their long time sweethearts
    Marriage was supposed to be a romantic ride especially in the first few days...
    The newness have worn off and now they find things a bit more simple things as taking ur wife for shopping!!

  10. Madame butterfly, thanks for visiting. I believe in the sanctity of marriage but also thing that when it get to a certain stage such as having an abusive partner, one has to move on for we only have one life to live!

  11. Hi Jon, thanks for the comments. Sometimes we struggle to do stuff that we used to happily do with our partners a while back, and I must admit that I have on several occasions looked for excuses to duck out of shopping exercises! It is always good when someone makes us reflect on these...

  12. interesting
    post on marriage

  13. I love ur take 3 esp the 60 - 40 point that's one hard thing to do. keep keeping on and God bless your marriage exceedingly above your expectations...

  14. Otieno,

    Our culture is slightly different from yours. In Pakistan, mostly, we have arranged marriages. I had one also. An arranged marriage is not as awful as it sounds. My mother and mother-in-law arranged a meeting between me and my husband. Then they left the rest to us. We liked each other, got married and just celebrated our 2nd anniversary!

    The marriage process does change according to the social strata one belongs to. At least it does here.

    Divorce rates have increased in our society also and mostly due to lack of patience. I agree with you that mostly we walk into a marriage with tons of expectations and when they aren't fulfilled, we file for divorce.

    Marriage is a partnership and like all alliances it needs some give and take. We just have to accept being on the giving end also.

  15. Farheen, thanks for your comments. From your description, it sounds like your parents just introduced you but if you did not "like" each other would the marriage go ahead? In Africa, this also happens quite a lot, especially in rural areas. It is not uncommon for someone's parents to 'bring' them a wife. Sometimes the marriages work out well, sometimes they don't (I guess that is true with all marriages regardless of how the couple met). We also tend to confuse arranged marriages with forced marriages and sometimes use the two terms interchangeably even though they mean different things. I wish you all the best in your marriage!

  16. This is how marriage ought to be. It makes me sad when i see people split but c'est la vie. You make great points, i think we all just need a reality check and a little common sense.
    Thanks for passing by mine :)

  17. Gishungwa, thanks for passing by here as well!!

  18. Well written. Best to go into marriage with commitment but an open mind as well.