Thursday, January 27, 2005

Marry to heal and to grow

Marry to heal and to grow

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 11:57 PM

Last of 4 parts

Another good-husband fantasy is the one that says he should always strive for more material wealth as his source of status and identity. He might not be very involved with the family, but if he continues to better the economics, if he can fatten the family bank accounts, he is seen as a successful husband. How often have I heard an unhappy wife say “but at least he is a good provider.” He believes that he will be judged by his peers by how well he provides for his family. Even the government plugs into this fantasy by painting as heroes those men who leave the country for work abroad. This, even if it means being an absentee father. Even if it means a weakening of marital bond. He must compete with other men in the race to give his family more. The more he gives them materially, the better husband and father he is.

Another fantasy is that the husband needs to assert his authority in the family so that nobody thinks that he is “under the saya.” He cannot afford to give the wife too much leeway for fear that he would be judged as a henpecked husband.

All these good-wife and good-husband fantasies cause lots of pain in a marriage and weaken its foundation. When men and women try to live up to these fantasies and fail to do so, they believe that their marriage is a failure. Trying to be supermen and superwomen is a tall order. Besides, many of these expectations do not address the real needs of a meaningful relationship, which calls for equality and close cooperation in helping each other in whatever ways needed.

If it so happens (as it often does in this country) that the wife earns more than the husband and is the primary provider, this should not distress the man. If a couple plays by the same rules and does not subscribe to the double standard, then, that is good for their love.

One of the major complaints of wives is that their husbands do not share enough about what happens outside the home. They complain that their husbands try too hard to keep up with their peers and that the emotional costs to the marriage are too high.

Men are not as strong as society makes them out to be. They, too, have their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In their sometimes desperate efforts to hide, men stress themselves to the breaking point, and the negative consequences are felt in the marriage.

When two people marry, they do so in order to heal and to grow in every way possible. It should not be a one-sided matter but equally beneficial to both partners. Unless this happens, discontent, resentment and anger set in, followed by regret. All this spells trouble, big trouble.

If a couple is to make it in marriage and find the happiness they dreamed of, they will have to disregard these many fantasies and do what is best for them. They will need to look past those unrealistic expectations that society has placed on married couples and have the courage to be different. Their happiness and success at keeping their marriage vibrant and strong depend on it.


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