"Marriage is really hard," someone who has recently separated from her husband said to me.
"We need to work at our marriage, but it is not supposed to be so hard. Not when you marry the right person," I said.
"There is no right person," she said. "There are no guarantees. No matter who you marry, your marriage can still break down. Maybe not in the first few years, or the first 10 years. But after that, nobody knows…"
I agree that marrying the right person is not a sure-win i.e. a guarantee that your marriage would not break down. But marrying the wrong person or marrying for the wrong reason is definitely a sure route to a unhappy marriage or a failed marriage.
So, who is the right person?
I don't believe in the concept that there is only one soulmate for every one of us. Because, if there's only one person that's suitable for you, and you happened to live in Greenland, and the other person in New Zealand, both of you might never ever meet in your lifetime, and that's rather sad. What I believe is that, there are people out there whom we are more compatible with. We might share similar values, similar life goals, similar background. And we are more likely to be able to spend hours and hours talking to each other, and not get bored talking to each other even after ten years of marriage.
The problem is, many of us are looking for the wrong things when we are looking for a marriage partner.
She must be pretty.
He must be at least 1.75m tall.
She must be slim.
He must be outgoing, confident, the life of the party.
And the list goes on…
I would know.
I too had a list when I was looking for a boyfriend. I called them my 3 golden rules. "He must be taller than me. He must be smarter than me. He must love me." And till today, I feel rather ashamed that my list had nothing to do with compatibility but everything to do with superficial and selfish criteria. I know I am extremely blessed that despite walking around with such a checklist, I found my Jamie, who is not just my husband, but also my best friend.
Looks do not last. Guys, you know that right? In another 30 or 40 years, no matter how pretty your girlfriend of wife is right now, she will age, and she might even put on some weight. Many men who marry for looks will eventually get frustrated in their marriages. Because after the initial passion dies down, they suddenly realise, they do not really know their wives, or worse still, they do not even like their wives. And honestly, they have nothing to talk about with their wives. And they find themselves spending more and more time out of their homes to avoid the 'silence'.
And my dearest ladies, it does not matter if he is 1.75m or 1.7m. It has no bearing on the type of person he is, the type of husband he can be, or the type of father he will be. I always feel sad that shorter men tend to overcompensate for their height because shorter men just have it so much harder when it comes to dating. And his sloppy dressing and presentation? Of course, we wish our other half will look as dashing and well-dressed as David Beckham or Andy Lau, but again, it says nothing about the person he is, and the type of relationship you would have.
Just recently, I observed a married couple who is having dinner at the same restaurant as us. And throughout the entire meal which lasted about an hour, the couple did not say a single word to each other. I am serious. Not a single word. They did not seem angry with each other either, in case you wonder if they might be in an argument. The lady spent most of her time on her phone Facebook-ing, and the guy just looked plain bored.
What do you do when you find yourself in such a marriage? Some say, "The solution is to have kids. Then, at least both of you have something in common – the kids." It is not too bad an idea under such circumstances as you will have a common topic for the next 18 years. But when the kids grow up, and move out, then what? Perhaps that's the reason for the rising divorces for couples in their 50s.
My dearest friends, if you are still single and finding love, you do not need to be in such a marriage. You have a choice. Choose wisely. Do not be tempted by short term pleasure and instant gratification. Choose compatibility. Choose common values. Choose ability to share a conversation.
Of course, it is cooler to have a drop-dead gorgeous trophy wife to impress your friends. Or maybe, your friends all have trophy wives, and you may feel like a loser if your wife is not as pretty, or if your wife is slightly plump.
Of course, it's impressive to have a husband who's tall, handsome, successful and well-connected. We might even feel that we will 'lose face' when our friends carry a more expensive handbag, drive a bigger car, live in a posher neighbourhood… finer things that our boyfriend from a more humble background or humble circumstances is not able to provide for us.
But you know something? All of these do not matter in the long run. Choose the right person, marry for the right reason, and you will have no regrets.
Don't get me wrong. Jamie and I have our own set of challenges in our marriage. We fight, we argue, we quarrel. But most of the times, we are happy, we are contented. We enjoy each other's company – be it having a good laugh, being silly, growing the dating business together or walking the journey of parenthood together.
My dearest friends, really… marriage does not need to be so hard. Please choose wisely.