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My dear Jil, we underestimate the importance of happiness in marriage. You shouldn’t go into a marriage in which you’re not going to be happy. It’s horrendous. You will be frustrated beyond measure, unable to communicate what’s really eating you up.

Of course, there are degrees of unhappiness in marriage. The extremity is depression. But perhaps the most common unhappiness in marriage is the benign variety – you know, the one that seems so harmless. It’s the type of unhappiness you can’t explain. Something is eating you up on the inside of you but you can’t express it. If you try to express or explain it you can’t make logical sense. And that can happen for a variety of reasons.

The most common cause of benign unhappiness is being with someone you really don’t want to be with – someone you “managed.” Even if you’re a manager at work you don’t “manage” someone for marriage, (to use a quaint Nigerian expression). Using the term “manage” is derogatory. Means you’re not really satisfied with the person; he’s not the person you want. He’s like your second choice and if you have your way you wouldn’t marry him. If you have your way, you wouldn’t even consider someone LIKE him. And we sometimes get into such dilemmas when we feel age is working against us, and so we just want to marry anybody. Or we choose to marry someone proximate to what we want. We are “managing” the person. He’s not what we want. And so even basic conversations are strained and mechanical but we inexorably push the relationship into marriage.

Sometimes, it’s about cultural exposure. The person is not what we want because he’s not culturally literate or exposed. And so they become embarrassments to us when we go for social functions. We avoid association. And you can tell when a lady can’t introduce her boyfriend in public. She’s embarrassed to be associated with him. That’s not the kind of marriage you want. There’s no middle wall of partition in marriage. And what will happen is that you can barely stand the person touching you. You’ll distance yourself as much as possible. You avoid coitus, to use The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon’s preferred expression. Soon the man begins to feel punished. Rejection is an awful thing in marriage. And you’ll then create two separate social circles – one for him, the other for you. They’ll be Venn diagrams that hardly interact. That marriage is essentially in trouble. The guy won’t even understand why he’s being treated badly. Especially if he’s a good guy who works hard to take care of his family. At some point though he will begin to figure things out, though sometimes after divorce. Nobody wants to be treated that way. And it means he went into the marriage under different expectations. But you went into the marriage with pre-determinate mind set. You knew what you were doing. Though in truth, you couldn’t know what you were doing going into such marriage.

There’s, of course, the possibility you’ll grow to overlook some things or even grow to like him. But divorce statistics are not in your favour. Such conversions are miracles. And so you’ll be in a state of “unhappily married” though seemingly okay in marriage. Think of it as being in a lukewarm water marriage. Lukewarm water is horrible for making tea. But that’s what the marriage will taste like – like a tea bag put in lukewarm water. Tepid taste. No energy, no excitement. And when you put sugar in such tea, it somehow manages to dissociate itself from the tea. It will be like four separate things went into that tea cup: warm water, cold water, tea bag and sugar. They won’t cooperate.

Now, of course, there are the realities of, “I’m lonely, I don’t want to be lonely.” What do you do? Whatever you choose to do, please make sure you go into marriage with a potential for happiness. And the happiness begins even before the marriage. You at least have proof of concept. If every time the guy pays you a visit, you feel under some sort of dutiful burden, that may be a warning sign. When you’re in love with someone, you look forward to seeing the person. And you look forward to weekends when you can be together. There’s just something about being in love with someone, someone with whom you’re happy. The journey to the altar shouldn’t be a burden or some walk of overcoming shame. It should be what you look forward to. And by that I mean you look forward to not only the marriage, but also to being with the person. You can look forward to marriage but not look forward to being with someone. Just means you want to marry, that you’re only interested in that wedding. To look forward to a wedding but not the marriage is a tragedy in the making. Someone’s going to be emotionally punished. And so I’d ask you to think twice about marrying this guy you really don’t want. It’s just that he’s the one available, the one who’s put himself forward.

At the beginning, of course, you’ll go through the initial ablutions of a married couple. Everything will be done dutifully including sex. But embrace will be missing or cringe-laced. It will be like in those movies when the director pans to the face of the other party and she’s rolling her eyes. Don’t underestimate the role of happiness in marriage. It’s what makes you part company with your partner in the morning joyfully, as you step out for work. It’s what makes you look forward to coming home to be with that person. A marriage must be in a state of happiness. And that is two partners who just want to be with each other.

“Do you see yourself being happy with this person?” is a question you need to ask yourself. Marriage or not, would you love to spend time with this person? Now, that’s a big question.

Your mentor, LA

The most common cause of benign unhappiness is being with someone you really don’t want to be with – someone you “managed.” Click To Tweet
Tags : Considerations, Choosing, Appreciation, Marriage, Happiness, what to look for in a marriage, expressiveness, Peace, Settling, Emotional

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