In this week’s Love In Lines, founder Tan Lili shares why she is still on the fence about marriage. And while there isn’t a cut-and-dried formula to marital success, she believes she’s found a key to a happy, healthy wedded life.
If my buddy had asked me that question when I was 25, my answer would’ve been a resounding yes. But when she sprang that on me last week, I found myself in two minds. On one hand, stubborn me refuses to support the institution of marriage; why do I need a piece of paper to validate my relationship? But on the other, I want so, so badly to say, “I do” to the man I love.
And deep down, I’m terrified. I’ve heard of and witnessed too many broken marriages to know that so much more would be at stake the moment you’re legally bound to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on an eventual screw-up at some point in my relationship, but shit happens.
The ugly truth
Wedding preparations are another level of horror altogether. To me, they set the stage for the slow but affecting reveal, i.e. marriage. Case in point: A friend of mine, who used to dream of an intimate wedding affair, ended up having a grand celebration because her mother-in-law had insisted on it. “You don’t only marry your man; you marry into his family,” she warned me. Gulp.
And that’s not including other terrifying tales of ang pow drama, overbearing MILs, and the ridiculous amount of money spent on the entire fanfare.
Once the wedding’s over, you’d still have the whole marriage thing to contend with. When you live together under one roof with shared responsibilities, there are bound to be bigger conflicts between the two of you. But each time I see my favourite real-life couples uncharacteristically argue over money or kids, I’d look at them and wonder to myself, Can two people who love each other so much eventually fall apart? I’m sorry if I sound unnecessarily bitter, and I know it’s silly to base my beliefs about marriage on what others have because every couple operates differently. I know.
But doubt and fear are two very powerful things.
When love isn’t enough
Friends always celebrate my long-term relationship but, honestly, there’s nothing to shout about. Yes, it involves hard work, but we don’t have to worry about household expenditure, pleasing the in-laws, the proper parenting methods – the whole shebang. Right now, it’s so easy to love and just be.
But from what I gathered from my family and friends, once you get married, love isn’t enough anymore. It’s about teamwork, it’s about practicality, it’s about serious commitment, it’s about having truckloads of patience.
And therein lies what I think is the key to marital success: No matter what happens, you don’t stop fighting for each other.
While I’ve seen a fair share of broken marriages, I also know of happy long-married couples. These couples shouldn’t be seen as an anomaly; their lives are peppered with as many obstacles as anyone else. But the difference is that they simply stick to their guns and never give up on each other. They fight hard.
I know there’s no point worrying about the unforeseeable future. But with my recent epiphany, it does help paint a clearer picture of what marriage entails and make me better appreciate and respect married couples who fight to make it work. I sure as hell hope I will be as strong when the time comes.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.
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