Why did I marry my husband?
On the treadmill this morning, I clicked open David Brook’s Op-Ed ‘Three Views of Marriage’. Hmmm! Did my decision to marry Khalid fit into any one of those views?
#1. Psychological lens: is he the right fit? Does he score high on ‘agreeableness?’
#2. Romantic lens: am I passionately in love?
#3. Moral lens: will marrying him serve a higher humanity-enhancing purpose?
Forget about #2. This was an arranged marriage. I met him after the engagement, and a week before the wedding. Score '0' on the passionately-in-love view.
#1 is a ‘maybe’. The elders were telling me that he was perfect for me. His photographs were not talking to me, other than to reveal a handsome face.
#3 is a stretch, but a good stretch. I wouldn’t say that I was doing a service to humanity, but rather, conforming to the traditional and social mores of the Pakistani culture of the 1970s. Marriage as an institution, family as a stabilizing unit of society, and all that good stuff. . . so perhaps I was serving the greater good. But that would apply to any marriage. So scrap #3 as a factor in ‘which of these marriage proposals should I accept?’
Let me add a #4: Instincts. When my parents asked me what I thought of Khalid’s proposal, or rather, his parents proposing on his behalf, my answer was Yes. Are you sure, my father asked. Yes. Now go figure! Why would I be so sure about marrying someone I had never met, never seen. Because it felt right. So David Brooks, add that to your list. Its called ‘when nothing makes sense, vote from your heart.’
I am huffing and puffing on the treadmill. I see Khalid through the glass wall. He does well with weights. After all, he has been carrying my weight for over 40 years.
Back to David Brooks on what makes a marriage work. Is it the psychological prism i.e. I will overlook his faults and focus on his virtues? Is it the romance: I love him and love conquers all? Or is it the moral lens: I have to make it work? Mr. Brooks argues that you need all three. I agree. Do you? But here is what is interesting. He contends that we do well on the first two, but the third is less common. He takes it further: ‘Maybe that is the reason the quality of the average marriage is in decline.’ I can only speak for myself, or for the culture I was raised in, culminating in the mindset: You Make Your Marriage Work. We didn’t pick our parents, but we remained under their roof till marriage did us part, and remained a family till death did us part. We didn’t pick our siblings. We didn’t pick our children. We embraced what was given to us, and worked our way through relationships.
Should marriage be any different.