30 years ago, in Malta, marriage was the natural progression of many relationships. You meet at Sixth Form, at work or in Paceville and a couple of years and a house loan later you’ll be married. Large white weddings were the norm as was having kids in the first 5 years of marriage.
Now-a-days the options for 20 pluses are much wider. These can include (amongst others), marriage, cohabitation, having ‘friends with benefits’ or remaining single. Travelling abroad for work and study has become the norm, postponing the decision of ‘settling down’ to a later age. Moreover, couples seem to fear long-term commitment. Therefore in today’s world, is marriage still viable?
- Choose well: My grandmother used to say ‘Do not choose vinegar and hope it will turn into wine’. Observe the way your partner relates to their parents, siblings and friends. Discuss topics that will matter if you make a life-long commitment to each other including financial issues, how you’d want to raise kids (if you’d like to have any) how involved you’d like the in-laws to be. Discuss how much your culture, religious and political views important to you. You’re promising until ‘death do us part’. After you consider all factors, do you really think it will work out with this particular partner?
- Conflict management: Conflict in an intimate relationship is inevitable. However, the way conflict is handled might determine the longevity of the relationship. Do you play the blame/silent game? What usually triggers a conflict? Does the conflict turn violent? Are you able to discuss your thoughts and feelings after both of you calm down?
- Be best friends: Do you have each other’s needs at heart? Do you enjoy your partner’s company, can you have a good laugh together? Do you stimulate each other intellectually, emotionally and physically? How much are these factors important to you?
- Sex and Intimacy: Sex and intimacy are usually an important part of marriage. Therefore it is vital that you are able to discuss this subject openly with your partner. Do you have the same level of sexual desire? Are there any difficulties that might create a problem in the future for example when trying to have kids? Are you ready to adjust your sexual needs to meet those of your partner’s?
However, even after considering all these factors, getting married is always a risk. We cannot predict the future and life can turn tough. The couple can be faced with health, financial or work problems as they grow older. Sacrifice is at times necessary as is the need for respect and a decision to love the other and (at times) forgetting your own needs. When all is said and done, in spite of the hard work involved, marriage can be a place where you feel safe and secure. A place to grow by facing your dreams, challenges and fears together.
Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org