Couple strolling on a sprawling white sand beach in Boracay, Aklan, Philippines

The Unbreakable Marriage

loving hearts

The Perspective

Before I say anything else, I would like to state for the record that I speak of marriage as an observer and not as a participant. I have never been married although I have observed many marriages at various distances.  I have seen enough to know that I most probably could not stay in one but I leave room for the remote possibility that maybe there is someone who could make me want to stay for keeps.

You should also know that I live in one of the few if not the only country that has never legalized divorce. So when you marry here, the only thing that can break that marriage is the death of one or both the spouses. There is one other painfully slow and cruel option, that is to have your marriage annulled.

The difference between a divorce and an annulment is that, a divorce recognizes that a marriage existed but was terminated by the choice of one or both spouses, the annulment does not recognize that the marriage existed from the start. Our laws state that either the marriage exists and the couple must continue to abide by it or the marriage will be annulled, or declared that it never existed from the beginning because it was entered into based on a faulty premise. Those are the only choices. Marriage in the Philippines is genuinely unbreakable.

The Problem

People change. People lie. They get bored, distracted, tempted, exasperated or overwhelmed. They get nasty, lazy, irresponsible, impatient, intolerant, unfaithful and sometimes abusive. In short people are people. If they were always fun and loving there wouldn’t be much of a problem. So imagine (although most of the married folk won’t have to) having no other option but to put up with all of that for the rest of your life. To meet other people who are so much nicer, but be barred from having a relationship with them. I get it.  It’s hard to be married, and so I understand why people want to know that if it gets too hard, there is a way out.

The Point

Marriage is unbreakable because that is how it was built.  That is the way it needs to be. Deep inside, we all really want a marriage to be that way.  Imagine if marriage could be given a time limit, and someone were to offer you full commitment for 5 years or 10 years or even 50 years but no more than that. Or if someone would offer you a marriage until one of you wants to get out.  Would you take that offer at all? Or would you hold out for something more permanent? Something that would last for the rest of your life?  Marriage is the ultimate commitment that is why it needs to be unbreakable.

The only reason anyone should get married is because they have decided to commit their life to this one person to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from that day forward until death do you part. Now that can be a profoundly moving gesture of true love, that could drive anyone to tears. But this should never be taken lightly, especially in this country, because if you consent to this commitment nothing but death can break it.

Clearly marriage is not for everyone. Some people will never go there. Some people will make it then break it. 50% of couples who marry will end up separated. Some couples will stay married but let the marriage break them. This last case is the saddest of all, because marriage was never meant to destroy people.

Marriage was intended to pair a person off with a loving partner for life, so he can have someone to share blessings and burdens with. Marriage allows someone to raise a family with and to spend a lifetime with, to grow old with. When you come to think of it, marriage is a beautiful thing. It is something you commit to with full knowledge and intention to give yourself completely while having the faith that your partner will do the same. Troubles are shared and blessings are doubled. If this is what happens in a marriage, life can be bliss. Isn’t this what everyone aspires for?

The Proposition

If you are still single, before you take that leap, ask yourself are you committed to this relationship for life? If you can say yes without a doubt. Then ask yourself, are you absolutely convinced that your partner is equally committed? The first is a question of your commitment to this relationship, a decision that you will stick with it whatever the challenge.  The second is a question of faith in your partner’s commitment. Marriages break up when people give up.

If either of you can’t say with certainty that you will work out all your problems in marriage whatever they might be (and I mean whatever they might be), then don’t get married, because you have no idea what life is going to throw at you. At some point it’s going to get tough and the only thing that will get you past it is your commitment to stick with your partner until you work through the problem.

If you are currently in a marriage that isn’t going so well, consider this. When you married your partner, you knew that after you signed that document, only death can separate you two and still at that point in your life, you were brave enough to say, “I do.” So do it already. Don’t point a finger at your spouse. Remember,  you made that commitment too. So get with the program and own up to your part of the partnership. Decide to work it out. Don’t let the marriage fall apart and even worse, don’t let yourself and your family fall apart.

So I say, let marriages stay unbreakable. A marriage shouldn’t be made weak to accommodate the half-hearted and the fickle-minded. It should be made strong to match the whole-hearted commitments that must be brought into the marriage.  A “marriage” cannot be called a marriage until after a lifetime has been lived. I’m all for it because a good marriage, is a sanctuary for couples to love and share and grow. And it is the ideal place to nurture children and teach them about healthy relationships.

To all couples who are committed to a mutually fulfilling marriage and to all single people who are aspiring for the same, I wish you a life of love, bliss and plenty. Today is your day.

Happy Valentines Day to All!!!

Fran & Marlo Cowan, after 62 years of marriage, still play the piano in sync.