Last week I shared to social media – WhatsApp and Facebook, a video of me dancing, and a male friend felt the need to reply to my WhatsApp status “Hold on, is she not married?” Insinuating that because I am married I should not be dancing. Am I supposed to act a certain way? I asked him, “Am I not supposed to dance/have fun or be happy, just because I am married? Dancing makes me happy.
And he is not the only person who has this “traditional view” of how a wife/married person should behave. When you’re married, people assume you can’t go out or have a social life especially when you’re a woman. Because all you should be doing as a woman is cook and clean after your man and children?
I have a friend who never forgets to remind me when we are out socializing that my kids are waiting for me at home. Like they are standing by the door unable to function or continue living because I am not around.
Then there are the ring shamers! I’ve noticed that not wearing my ring also seems to bother a lot of people, especially those that are single. Then I go into explaining that my husband and I don’t equate wearing a ring to loyalty because we have that relationship. This is the mindset and condition we have set for our marriage. It’s not about the ring nor the paper. Ring on or not, a cheater will cheat!
We need to stop misleading each other about what a marriage is or what it’s supposed to be. And as couples, we also need to stop giving into societal pressures. You make a marriage what it is, it’s not what people say it is. If we blindly follow the World and its ways, we lose ourselves, and possibly our identity. That’s where things start to go wrong for couples; when we do what everyone wants/expects, instead of what works for the two of us. Besides, when you start to lose your identity, you stop being the person your partner fell in love with. Couples need to stop using other couples’ relationships as a template for theirs because whatever they are doing is working for them.
There is no rule book to marriage. What makes it work is subjective. We are setting future couples up for failure when we imprint these fake ideals of marriage in their minds because the dynamics are different in every relationship. So if we apply the same rules for every couple, they are bound to fail. Society or “they” need to stop getting involved and let couples figure themselves out. Firstly, the moment we force our rules on other couples, we force them to become who they are not and secondly they become miserable. Like I said the last time, no one knows what it really entails to keep a person happy. The same applies to couples, only the two of you can figure out what’s best for your relationship or marriage. People who have never been married must stop misguiding each other and reminding married people as to how they should behave; in my view, they are the number one culprits.
And those who are and who have been in unsuccessful marriages should also stop perpetuating the perception that all marriages are tough and nothing else. Yes, we go through tough times but the times ain’t any tougher than the average relationship. Instead, advise couples on how to try and avoid the same mistake you’ve made. We can learn from your mistakes and how to possibly handle the situation better. So, at the end of the day, it’s about your commitment, attitude, and effort toward making your marriage/relationship work.
Paula Christoph’s column concentrates positive and inspirational write-up’s every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.