When you compare your trapped relationship with your parents’ blissful bond, do you sometimes wonder, is there possibly a better time to be married? Would your marriage have survived if it was set 50 years ago?
Looking at your mom and dad – the way they expressed their love for each other – throughout your childhood served as your first model for what marriage looks like. And good or bad, their marriage left an indelible impression, leading you to decide what behaviours and gestures you wanted to replicate in your own relationship. Yet, why do you have a sense that your own relationship is doomed to fail in this modern age?
If it helps, the best marriages today are better than the best marriages of earlier eras. Here, I’ll answer some historical context to our expectation around marriage and outline simple strategies to heighten any committed relationship.
1. What are the present-day advantages & disadvantages of being married that are unique to this moment in time?
Here are some of the advantages of being married today:
Monogamous marriage. Although polygamous marriages are still being practised in Muslims society with the aim to uphold a range of women’s natural rights – the right to marriage, forming a family and having and rearing legitimate children, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (hereinafter referred as “the 1976 Act”) has mandated all non-Muslims customary marriages solemnized after March 1982 to be registered, which directly make marriages more secured.
Legal & financial rights. Being conferred with a legal title as husband and wife entitles the couple to various legal and financial rights, including inheritance right, custody right and property right. In fact, the rights of parties are more protected with the prevalent existence of the prenuptial agreement.
Opportunities for better understandings. Compared to the traditional marriage, individuals nowadays are entitled to the opportunity for better understanding and discovery of a person before taking the oath to be spouse.
Lesser social expectations. There are multiple social expectations being attached to marriage – having a child, the husband must be the breadwinner, a wife must be submissive and be good at household chores. Today, marriage is a promise between you and me, and that’s it.
2. What is your view on arranged marriages versus love marriages?
In the past, arranged marriage is a common practice in which the parents are actively and directly involved in selecting their future son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Some assess their in-laws based on certain criteria, among them are social status of that particular family, economic reasons, and age. It is not to negate the fact that some couples in those days did get married solely on the reason of love and affection.
However, most of them only started to develop their relationship after marriage and then solemnly hold on to their promise to each other for life. Modern marriage on the other hand, couples are no longer restricted to marry a person that is of comparable position, freedom of choice is given to an individual who has attained the age of majority which is 18-year-old pursuant to section 4 of the Age of Majority Act 1971.
3. What do we know about divorce trends over time, and what do they tell us?
While waiting for the marriage and divorce statistics for the year 2018 to be released by the Department of Statistics at the end of this year, our attention shall be first drawn to the report announced by the Malay Mail in 2012, which was titled as ‘One Divorce in Malaysia Every 10 Minutes’.
The fact that the number of divorce cases is fourfold of the marriage cases (as of the year 2012) is absolutely traumatizing and shocking for many, especially for couples that are preparing for a walk down the aisle. Apparently, divorce amongst jaded old couples does not alone contribute to the drastic rise in divorce rates, but the younger generation’s attitude should also be put on blame.
However, the sanctity of marriage shall not be minimized although the abovementioned facts have eased people from coming out from a shattered marriage. Couples should always recognize that every relationship there is ups and downs, difficulties that are encountered in a marriage are meant to be overcome, not an excuse for a divorce. It is true that happiness of one should be prioritised, but if you nodded your head during the proposal, be responsible for it unless the marriage is of a real toxic nature.
4. Tips for unmarried couples?
Be Each Other’s Best Friend. One of the biggest mistakes that couple make is that they draw a line between friendship and relationship. Sweet talks and romance are never the emphasis of a relationship, but friendship is. Building your relationship on the basis of friendship does not merely enable you to learn more about your partner but also rekindle passion.
Maintain Ongoing Communications. There should not be a barrier between both of you in exploring new topics. An open, ongoing and honest communication is of utmost importance in building a concrete and long-lasting relationship. A movie night at home which both of you cuddle on the sofa would be the best timing to express thoughts, for example, discuss career plans, dream lifestyle or finances. One thing shall be borne in mind is that – you don’t talk to one when you’re free, you free your time to talk to them. It is all about priorities.
Creating boundaries. To avoid getting on each other’s nerve that may lead to a breakup. Creating a healthy boundary from the beginning ensures that your relationship is secured. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel like walking on eggshells, but to form a mutual respect and trust.
Don’t ever simply ask for a break-up. Instead of compromising over everything, putting it on the table is definitely a better option because things that have been compromised upon will surely return and haunt you. However, take note that matters that have been resolved should never be raised and argued all over again. A relationship is not a competition – you don’t fight to win but you fight for a resolution. Do not ever propose for a break up unless you really demand it, the heart is strong yet fragile.
Travel together. The real significance of travelling together is to explore the mutual part in both of you. The absence of making time for each other will inevitably drift the couple apart as physical contact and consistent intimacy is essential for relationships. Besides, being together 24/7 exposes the true character of one and therefore further help you in knowing whether he/she is the truly right person for you.