THINK ON THESE: Till death do us part

“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 apart.” – George Bernard Shaw in Getting Married


“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” That was how the first marriage ever initiated, as recorded in Genesis 2:24.

It all starts with love, however. But what is this incomprehensible, impenetrable, inscrutable thing called love? “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope,” wrote American poet Maya Angelou.

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same,” American author Helen Keller wrote. To which Alfred Lord Tennyson penned, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”

Love, so goes a line of a song, is a many-splendored thing. This must be the reason why Pablo Neruda has written 100 Love Sonnets. “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chests is my hand, so intimate then when I fall asleep in your eyes close.”

So sweet, so nice, so inspiring. “I am nothing special, of this I am sure,” wrote Nicholas Sparks in The Notebook. “I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”

With love, comes marriage. Author George Eliot points this out: “What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life – to strength each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?”

Almost all marriages begin with love. I said “almost” because there are marriages that are not made in heaven. I am referring to shotgun marriage, marriage for convenience and financial reasons, or those marriages arranged by parents of the couple.

When you marry someone, be sure to tie the knot for the right reason. “I don’t want to be married just to be married,” wrote Mary Ann Shaffer, author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. “I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”

In Happy Ever After, playwright and novelist Nora Roberts gives some hints as to what kind of a woman a man should stay with throughout his life. “When you find somebody you love, all the way through, and she loves you – even with your weaknesses, your flaws, everything starts to click into place. And if you can talk to her, and she listens, if she makes you laugh, and makes you think, makes you want, makes you see who you really are, and who you are is better, just better with her, you’d be crazy not to want to spend the rest of your life with her.”

But there are those who marry the other person they love because they believe he or she might change later on. “Men marry women with the hope they will never change,” Albert Einstein once said. “Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”

This reminded me of the words of the character in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray: “Never marry at all. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”

Disappointment seems to be what American singer Barbra Streisand had in mind too when she said: “Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?”

American humorist Helen Rowland echoed the same thing. “Before marriage,” she wrote, “a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won’t even lay down his newspaper to talk to you.”

Perhaps Streisand and Rowland never read what Laurell K. Hamilton had written in A Kiss of Shadows. “Men don’t settle down because of the right woman. They settle down because they are finally ready for it. Whatever woman they’re dating when they get ready is the one they settle down with, not necessarily the best one or the prettiest, just the one who happened to be on hand when the time got to be right. (That may be) unromantic, but still true.”

Some marriages end. Period. But there are also marriages that continue proving that there is indeed forever. “It is not lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages,” said German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Whether it’s the man or the woman, someone should work hard to make the marriage successful. Jodi Lynn Picoult, an American author who was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for fiction in 2003, reminded: “You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride.”

Again, marry for the right reason: love. “Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love,” wrote Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet. “And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.”

Now, you will understand why British actress Audrey Hepburn has said: “If I get married, I want to be married.”

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