Jil morning! Let’s quickly do an exercise. I want you to draw four boxes on a piece of paper, number them 1,2,3,4. You’re going to write some names in those boxes so make them fairly big. Label Box 1 “Very Difficult”, Box 2 “Difficult”, Box 3 “Easy”’ Box 4 “Very Easy.”
Now you need to populate those boxes. In Box 1, the “Very Difficult” box, write down the names of your friends and marital prospects who are VERY difficult people. In Box 2, the “Difficult” box, write down the names of friends and marital prospects who are not as difficult as those in Box 1 but difficult nonetheless. In Box 3 write the names of friends or acquaintances and marital prospects who are easy to get along with. And in Box 4 write down the names of friends and marital prospects who are VERY easy to get along with.
This exercise will help you take a wise decision on who to marry; also help you determine the degrees of relationship you should have with people. It will help define your expectations. Let’s look at the groups one by one.
One thing you’ll notice about the people listed in your Very Difficult box is that you almost always have fights and disagreements with them. Doesn’t mean you don’t like them, you do. And that’s what makes the relationship difficult – the fact that you like them but then they’re very difficult to get along with. And it doesn’t mean they don’t have wonderful hearts either. Some can be very nice people depending on the situation. They can go out of their way for others, go out on a limb. It’s just that they can be so wilful and stubborn. Relating to them is like extracting a tooth. They tend to be strung up, always want to have their way, can be touchy and have a sense of victimhood. You can reach out to say hi or to express kind sentiments but by the end of the conversation you’ll regret calling. The whole thing will turn into a fight. They just can’t let go of that difficult persona. They want to be valued but then do things that leave you with regrets relating to them. Everything is an argument, everything is a contention. They’re opinionated. They’re only loyal to their viewpoint. Can throw you under the bus in a jiffy, which of course leaves you disappointed. And pained. But you love them and therein is perpetual pain.
If you want me to be stark with you, I’ll advice you don’t pick a spouse from this cluster. You will be drained emotionally, tired, constantly wrung up. Yes, you like the person but you’re going to have regrets. And they tend to be tunnel-minded. What they want to do is what they want to do, irrespective of any change in circumstances. They will do what they want to do. In a sense no one can talk to them.
The Box 2 people, the Difficult but not so difficult people… They are lovable but tend to be selfish and self-absorbed. They’re not into give and take. What they want is all there is. Any emotional negotiation with them will be one-sided. They have no other worldview. If they give emotionally it’s because of what they want. They’re not emotionally fair. What they demand they don’t want to give. And the degree to which they demand they don’t want to reciprocate. The resulting effect is that this drags down the spirit with disappointment. All the selfishness brings pain. And it doesn’t mean they’re not nice people. It’s just that they like to impose, have their way and not reciprocate emotional demands made. It’s not as if you can’t marry from the group but be ready for emotional distress and altercations, constant and unending negotiation over trifles. If you don’t have the emotional energy don’t go into it. If you marry from the group be ready for weariness of soul, and be ready for constant fights and disagreements.
The people in Box 3, the Easy group – they’re easy to get along with. They’re dutiful and responsible towards relationship. They tend to be well brought up, hold on to values. It’s why they’re dutiful towards their relationships. They’re generally okay people, don’t like struggles in relationship, want to be loved and want things easy. To them things should be easy and uncomplicated. They’re not emotionally complicated. They’re easy to get along with. They respect boundaries, are mindful of boundaries and make simple commitments to relationships. Their motto is, live and let live. It’s that simple.
In general you won’t have issues from this group because of those values and simple commitment. Not a bad group to choose from. You’ll have a simple and peaceful relationship, but don’t push them too far.
The last box is the Very Easy group. They’re very generous with affection, sacrificial in their relationship, always giving themselves. The key for this group is identity. When they identify with you they totally identify with you. You’re them, they’re you. They have a simple sense of loyalty, don’t like issues, fights and arguments. They’re very loving though they can be emotionally demanding. That’s because of that strong sense of identification. For them the relationship is it. It’s life. They don’t think outside that frame of reference. They tend to be peaceful, easy and gentle. They’re dutiful towards their spouses, contribute their quota to any relationship they’re in without being asked. I could go on and on about this group but suffice to say it’s the ultimate group when it comes to what we call a “loving marriage.” Choosing from this group is wisdom. But we don’t all want the same thing. And sometimes we choose personality over wisdom.
Young people are not always wise. Understandably they don’t know much about marriage, and so they end up using terrible parameters for choice of partner, things that can’t endure with time. The easiest analogy is the man who goes to the bank to do short term borrowing for a long term project. The structural dislocation will affect the project. The interest rate will kill him. Or how do you explain contemplating marriage to someone you can’t even agree on basic things with, someone you’re always having disagreement with? We do that because we tend to concentrate on surface parameters to the detriment of fundamental parameters. That’s not saying personality doesn’t count. Personality matters. If someone has a difficult personality marriage will prove difficult. Won’t mean you can’t endure the marriage but the price will be high.
There are relationships that are unhealthy even though the person is lovable. The party is lovable because you choose to love him or her despite repeated abuse of your relationship. That you like someone doesn’t mean you should marry the person. If you can’t get along in peace what’s the point?
Acquaintanceship is different from marriage. In acquaintanceship you may barely see the person – maybe once a week… But in marriage you live with the person, permanently. There are no breaks. And it’s not wise to overwrite facts about a marital prospect. You will regret it. The facts you refuse to acknowledge will follow you into marriage.
Marriage is not supposed to be difficult. Marry someone you can get along with. It’s somewhat like a movie date. It’s not everyone you can go on a movie date with. If you can’t ordinarily get along with someone don’t go into marriage with the person. Don’t go into a difficult marriage there’ll be a toll on your soul. And like I told you before the one thing about marriage is its use of human life. You have only one life. Why subject it to trauma?
There are other considerations for marriage of course but I think this question, “Can we even get along?” is so basic. Sometimes our desperation gets the better of us and we seek to go into marriage with someone we KNOW we don’t really want; we go into a relationship with someone we know will be difficult.
May you not know marital trauma.
This marriage thing… It’s not that difficult. You want someone you can stay at home with, someone you can be yourself with, someone you can commit your heart to… You don’t want a marriage in which there are constant fights. And you don’t want a marriage in which there are no fights in the classical sense but then there are constant disagreements. Neither do you want a marriage that is in a state of disagreement. There are no fights but then everyone has withdrawn to a corner like the marriage is some boxing arena. That’s a tense marriage. There’ll be fewer co-operations.
Can you have a conversation without a fight? Can you have a conversation without someone needing to prove a point? Can you have an understanding divergence of opinion? Can everything be subsumed under love?
Don’t marry someone with the hope of changing the person. That’s rather presumptuous.
I hope the exercise brings things into focus for you.
Your mentor, LA.
© Leke Alder | email@example.com.Marriage is not supposed to be difficult. Marry someone you can get along with. Click To Tweet Acquaintanceship is different from marriage. In acquaintanceship you may barely see the person - maybe once a week... But in marriage you live with the person, permanently. Click To Tweet Don’t marry someone with the hope of changing the person. That’s rather presumptuous. Click To Tweet This marriage thing... It’s not that difficult. You want someone you can stay at home with, someone you can be yourself with, someone you can commit your heart to... Click To Tweet