As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a hopeless romantic. A probable character flaw, considering my track record with matters of the heart, but rather this than a hateful relationship-basher. Life is simply too short to walk around with disparaging cynicism festering one’s heart.
This morning, as I’m sure many of you do, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I came across a friend, Justine’s status. It read:
Justine: I was so excited when I saw a friend of mine got engaged. Sent the following wish on FB: ‘Congrats! Wishing you all the best for a happy future.’
Justine’s friend’s reply: ‘Thanks J. Not ideal, but securing my financial freedom.’
Justine: ‘I hope you’re joking, but you know me, like a true Disney fan, I will always believe in love at first sight.’
Justine’s friend’s reply: ‘(Unfriend me).’
*Justine makes no mention whether her friend is male or female. And knowing her as well as I do – she was not judging her friend, she was trying to make light of a possibly serious situation. It’s how she rolls.
Now, for those of you who simply read my blog, a few relevant facts about me:
- I am 35
- I have never been married. I was engaged once at the tender know-it-all-age-of-19, for what I thought was love, but I very quickly learned that the situation I’d got myself into had nothing to do with love, and everything to do with stupidity and
- I want to be married – to a good, enriched Not rich. A man who is God-fearing, loyal, trustworthy, caring, understanding, kind, gentle-hearted-yet-firm, intelligent, funny…but yet, who makes mistakes (and takes responsibility for them), who doesn’t lift his hands and who works hard.
- Given the facts above, I am possibly the worst person to discuss the topics of love or marriage, but the one thing I want you all, as my readers to notice is that both, in my humble opinion, are not about worldly riches, but about enriching one another.
I received a myriad of responses when I conducted some research among some of my family, colleagues and friends (the in-real-life-ones and the online ones) wanting to know the following.
Single, never been married friends:
- Why have you never been married?
- Do you want to be married?
All the respondents were female, aged between 30 and 50, some with children.
Some cited that they are not yet married due to past heartache, but that they would like to be. 100% of these respondents do not have children, but would be willing to marry someone who does. The age of the children however may play a role.
The other half cited that being single is less hassle. Ironically 100% of these women have children and are quite content to raise their children on their own. 50% of them receive maintenance from the child(ren)’s father.
- What was the main reason they got married?
- If they are still married, how long has it been?
There was a mixed bag of respondents here.
The men that responded fall into ages between 40 and 60, having been married for anything between 8 and 30 years.
The women that responded fall into the ages between 21 and 65, having been married for less than a year to over 45 years.
Every single one of the married respondents though stated that they married for love and the companionship of an imperfect person to complement them where they are lacking. In other words, to enrich them. Almost all of them, even without my asking, was quick to add that they have all had their ups and downs and that while about 10% of them have considered divorce for various reasons, they’ve all entertained the thought of murder at least once.
- What was the main reason they got married?
- How long were they married before they got divorced?
- What was the main reason for the divorce?
More respondents here than out of the two other categories above. Again, both men and women.
Male respondents range between the ages of 28-53, having been married for anything between 2 – 20+ years. What is notable in this demographic is that all these respondents cited infidelity as the catalyst to divorce. Most of them married for love, but some simply got married because they wanted to live up to some socially archaic norm that if a man is not married by 35, there must be something “wrong” with him.
Female respondents ranged between 22 and 35, also citing infidelity as the number one cause their marriage dissolved. All of them married for love.
But let’s forget about the randomness of those research statistics for now.
I want to focus on my divorced friends, (both male and female) of which I have quite a few.
I don’t for one minute believe that they didn’t love their spouses when they said their blissful I-do’s, nor do I believe that they had no actual intention of keeping their vows. Some were married for three to five years, others for more than two decades. Life simply dealt all of them curve balls and at some point, enriching one another became too difficult.
Many of them divorced their spouses on grounds of infidelity, which in today’s day and age has become so easy, thanks to social media – a person can literally be sitting next to their spouse on the couch, but chatting with someone else via text or IM. I ranted about this specific issue on Facebook the other day – not cheating via social media per sé, but simply not respecting the person you’re physically with enough to leave your phone alone. How ever did we survive pre-cellphones?!
I know of a married woman who found out her husband was having an affair (with someone he’d met online through mutual friends) 20+ years into their marriage and while he wanted out of matrimonial obligation, she fought tooth and nail to keep it together. Sure, she loves him, but part of me wonders if she wasn’t more afraid of the financial implication and emotional destitution divorce may have caused.
Don’t get me wrong – as I said previously, I am possibly the worst candidate to discuss these issues, but I do love a topic that will illicit intelligent, mature, debate.
I was going through my list of Facebook friends and was actually shocked at the people I’ve accepted, whom I don’t even know – simply because we share mutual friends. I am careful though when it comes to accepting unknown men as friends (mutual friends or not), because a simple Hi, how are you can very soon escalate into something more. I have many of my friends’ husbands as friends on Facebook and as IM contacts, but I very seldom contact them. I will rather wait ‘til I can chat with their wives.
Some of my other friends divorced because of other irreconcilable differences – alcoholism, substance abuse, physical/emotional/verbal abuse… it was only having come to terms with the real issues that healing could begin post-divorce. I admire these specific category of divorcees simply because they have not only had to deal with the tremendous pain that comes with a divorce, but because they have overcome things that many of us know nothing about. I personally know what it is like to be in an abusive relationship. I don’t think I would have survived had I married the man.
Others divorced because of financial issues. When poverty comes in the front door, love flies out the back window… I have a friend whose husband divorced her after having to support her for six months after she had been retrenched. She applied for various jobs (ranging from menial, minimum wage positions, to ones that she was indeed qualified for), but unfortunately she wasn’t successful. She began a small crafting business from home, in an attempt to bring some money into the household, but it simply wasn’t good enough for her husband. He came home one afternoon and apparently quite calmly told her that he’d had enough of her expecting him to support her and that he would be filing for divorce. She was devastated. Not because of the fact that she would be left virtually destitute, but because the man she loved had become a stranger to her.
Staying with the financial issue, another person I know divorced her husband for tax reasons, but they still live together, share expenses, tend to their kids. They simply don’t share the same surname anymore.
In both instances above, I hear a tiny voice in my head reciting the Bible verse that says, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” It is incredibly sad that the love of money has, in some cases, become more important than love itself.
Don’t get me wrong – the scenarios above are not judgements. We’re all human…Anyone can be led into the temptation of adultery, succumb to the allure of the forget-about-life-for-a-while-fix that alcohol or drugs promise, become a victim of spousal abuse in whatever form or go into the office one morning only to be told that their services are no longer required. It happens. Nobody knows what the future holds. If we did, life would be a lot less complicated. In fact, it would be perfect.
However, with this said, I can’t help but feel that Justine’s friend is giving his/her potential spouse a raw deal. Really. Sure, money makes life easier, but marrying for it and the potential security if may offer is surely a recipe for disaster? And besides that, there is no guarantee that the money is not going to be taken away…
In the words of The Beatles,
“I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright
I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright
Cos I don’t care too much for money, and money can’t buy me love…”
But then again, in almost all the instances that led to divorce above, love simply didn’t seem to be enough…
Personally, I’d rather be dirt-poor, sharing a mouldy-crusted slice of bread with a man who loves and enriches me with his humanity than be monetarily rich (married or divorced). Money can buy material things, but it can never buy heart.