It’s amazing how one day someone walks into your life, and you cannot remember how you ever lived without them. — Unknown
(Song and Dance)
Marriage, an institution surviving centuries in numerous cultures, is under scrutiny in Canada. The face of marriage, generally defined as the legal and consensually binding contract of spouses, has changed dramatically in my lifetime.
One reason for this dramatic change is the view that marriage is a social construct existing in all societies in one form or another. Cultural norms and expectations determine the definition of marriage and who can marry. Source As social constructs change, so also does the face of marriage.
Canadian law states who can and who cannot enter into the contract of marriage. Learn more Canada’s law is being forced to update because of changing social constructs, many of which are in themselves being challenged in this multifaceted, multiethnic nation.
Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.
― Mae West
So, why bother with a marriage certificate?
This is the question people of all ages ask themselves, and a question that psychologists, tax experts, and religious advocates are quick to answer. Robert H. Shmerling, MD, who also serves as Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, says “there is fascinating and compelling research suggesting that married people enjoy better health than single people.” Married people:
- Live longer;
- Have fewer strokes/heart attacks;
- Have a lower chance of becoming depressed;
- Are less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time;
- Survive a major operation more often.
Shmerling goes on to explain —
- People in happy relationships have stronger immune function. Cortisol tends to be released in lower amounts in married people (high cortisol levels can impair immune function). Learn more . . .
- One’s behavior improves with marriage. Married people may take fewer risks, eat better, and maintain healthier lifestyles on average.
- Mental health is better when you’re married. Poor social supports have been strongly linked with higher rates of depression, loneliness, and social isolation, which have in turn been associated with poorer health outcomes.
And last but not least, we often hear that being married includes financial perks. To learn more about the financial advantage of being married, be sure to check out the links at the end of this article, then let me know if you agree with what the experts are saying.
When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
Canadians might like getting married, but we also like getting divorced. Canadian marriages last an average of fourteen years, and, as of 2020, our divorce rate is 48%. Source Canada has one of the highest divorce rates globally which have increased by 251.8% since 1960. . .
- Hindus have a divorce rate of 1%.
- Islamic and Jewish spouses divorce at a rate of 20% and 28% respectively, with Buddhist divorce scoring 30%.
- Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, divorce at an alarming rate of 37%!
Commitment to the marriage is the main reason why couples stay together. The primary reason for ending a marriage is because spouses feel they’ve grown apart, that they are no longer compatible. Source Reasons for divorce in Canada also include:
- Educational and financial differences
- Marrying at an early age
- Sexual challenges
- No religious affiliation
- Premarital pregnancy
- Changes in employment, household structure, and health
- Substance use
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
― Dr. Seuss
People marry for different reasons—lifelong companionship, love, survival, financial, sex. . . Whatever the reason, one question typically asked before lives merge is, IS THIS THE ONE? Some say they’ve found their ‘forever soul mate’, while others start out believing their bond is perfect, only to decide later that it isn’t.
LOVE is a key reason we merge our lives with others. “Platonic or romantic, fleeting or lifelong, love has the power to nurture meaningful relationships, shatter hearts, teach important lessons, and change lives forever.” Source
Interestingly, those who love soon learn that it’s possible to also hate the beloved. Contrary to popular belief, love and hate are interconnected, not dichotomous. It seems you can’t have one without the other. How is this possible?
Love and hate share similar parts of the brain responsible for emotions, reactions, etc. Hearts race, pupils dilate, and palms sweat because of love and hate. When we look at someone, whether lovingly or hatefully, our brain simply registers that we feel strongly about that person! Source
Both love and hate continue to ignite wars. Both continue to be the primary theme in poetry, love songs, great literature and epic movies. When it comes to marriage, 48% of Canadians appear to know just how easy it is to be on or over the thin line between love and hate.
Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.
If love and hate are so interconnected, then how can one know if a relationship is substance for nuptials? Having watched decades of those wedded, my conclusion is that no one is absolutely certain all of the time that their partnership is ‘meant to be’ or blessed for eternity.
Who to Marry – Being Alive
A quick internet search results in numerous links about how to choose a spouse. Following are just a few such links:
- Have fun while gathering information about your partner(s) by completing the Rice Purity Test.
- Taking this simple personality quiz might be revealing.
- What to know about your lover’s darker side? Take this 3-minute Machiavellian test, or this Short Dark Triad (SD-3), which is a measure of the “dark triad” personality traits. Learn more. . .
- For the more serious marriage contemplator, have partner(s) complete the Myers Briggs Indicator instrument.
Jetting back to the days of my impressionable youth, I share the story of how one chap asked me to marry him. This well-established, handsome older dude with the hot sports car, motor bike, speed boat, and athletic body was any mother’s choice for a daughter. A minister friend encouraged me to attend his pre-marital counseling session, which included completing pre-marital assessment questions, a quiz not unlike this downloadable PDF. Side note: the chap seeking my hand in matrimony refused to attend the session. Thank Goodness I went to that appointment! I realized that not only did we share little in common, but I walked away recognizing that deep down, I didn’t much like the bloke after all!
(La Cage Aux Falles)
If I’ve learned anything over the last few decades of marriage, it’s that marriage involves humans who are subject to change, success, failure, regrets. Life has a way of delivering the unexpected, of redirecting one’s plans and goals, of proving one isn’t in control. What we anticipate or expect in a marriage is generally not what we’ll end up with. Lovey-dovey nuptials aside, partnering with someone for better or for worse includes both the better and the worse!
A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
— Ruth Bell Graham
Marriage is about compromising! It’s about giving up personal freedoms. It’s about “sharing your bed, your kitchen, your bathroom, and all of those personal moments that leave us looking less than personable.” Source
Marriage is about the role(s) each partner takes on, or doesn’t. Which partner enjoys shopping, entertaining? Who’s more inclined to tidy things up? Who’s got a knack for barbequing or cooking? Which prefers to fix the car, or make necessary appointments, or keep the bank accounts in good order? Who in the partnership wants to attend the offspring’s soccer games, or walk the dog? Who is it that will pack lunches, clean toilets, wash floors, repair the kitchen sink?
Whatever type of marriage or partnership one engages in, the roles need to be clearly defined. Otherwise, one’s expectations don’t match one’s reality, and that can be a real bummer!
I got gaps; you got gaps; we fill each other’s gaps. . . Love is absolute loyalty. People fade, looks fade, but loyalty never fades. You can depend so much on certain people; you can set your watch by them. And that’s love, even if it doesn’t seem very exciting.
— Sylvester Stallone
‘Til Death Do Us Part – You are so Beautiful To Me
If marriage commitment is a lifetime choice, then partners will inevitably be acceptant of the flabby belly, the sagging butt, of financial demise, health challenges, changes in family dynamics, and so on. The beauty of the healthy marriage is that when facing life struggles, one’s partner(s) is there to shore one up with kindness, to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to love at all cost!
Life = Change: Thomas Rhett
Partnering for a lifetime or short-term is remembering that life around us is changing, and that life changes us. Surviving this change as an individual in the partnership, or as the partnership itself, depends on our intellectual and emotional responses to that change. Being flexible and shifting from one coping strategy to another as circumstances arise is key.
This ability to shift effectively is often referred to as Cognitive and Emotional Flexibility. When in a partnership, a fundamental step to being flexible is to accept the reality of our situation, whether frightening or painful. This includes accepting both what can be changed and what cannot.
Consider the risks, requirements, and possible outcomes involved in the decision or strategy used to get us through change. According to researchers at Cambridge University, we’re told that by doing so, we’ll have better psychological and physical health, and therefore we’ll be more resilient. Resilience requires creativity and flexibility: creativity to explore multiple viewpoints and flexibility to embrace a positive but realistic assessment, or reassessment, of a challenging situation. Source
An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
― Agatha Christie
When Love Isn’t Enough – Lift Us Up Where We Belong
(Featured in Officer and a Gentleman)
The glue in every partnership? I believe it is Respect and Forgiveness, two ingredients that surpass all human foibles. Relationships survive decades when partners respect their own and their beloved’s differences, whatever those might be—cultural, religious, political, etc. Respect is often considered more important than love or romance, perhaps because respect involves a quantity of intellect, whereas love and romance are often welded to emotion.
The delicacy in every partnership – Anything You Can Do
(Annie Get Your Gun)
POWER. If not respected, power wielded can quickly undo a partnership/marriage, especially if the face of power is reflected as competition, dominance-submission, uncompromising. However, respecting a partner’s power can yield dynamic possibilities that support the relationship.
COMMUNICATION is considered the singular most important ingredient in every relationship, and especially in long-term partnerships like marriage. When stuck on what’s best to say, try these three little time-tested words that are communicated frequently in many lasting marriages, including my own. . .
Love / Hate
Concept of Marriage
- Child Marriage in Canada:
Benefits of Marriage
Cognitive and Emotional Flexibility