21 Jun 2012

A parody on Marriage

A Parody on Marriage - By P.K.Odendaal - 21 May 2012.

Note added on 21 April 2015.
I do not want to upset you from the start, as it was only my intent to upset you at the end, but so exciting and depressing is this subject that I decided to upset you all the time as a marriage upsets many people most of the time or is that all people some of the time.
The fact is that a marriage requires each of us to compromise because we are not the same, we react quite differently and our interest are quite diverging. Therefore, if I compromise, I become a lesser version of myself and for most of us, specially those who are creative and innovative, a lesser version of ourselves will only make us unhappy. So, before we have even started, we are already on this slippery slope of a disconnect and conflict inside ourselves between what we are and what we want to be and the stark reality what we do not want to be and what we should be or are expected to be in the marriage.
End of note. 
No, love and marriage does not go together, like the now almost proverbial horse and carriage, although some of us are more inclined to put the carriage before the horse.
I normally enjoy writing satires, but marriage is just such a serious subject, that this has to be a parody, and I find myself in uncharted waters. However, what is said here, needs to be said, and it fell upon me to say it, albeit in a parodicidal way. You might not believe anything I tell you here, because it is as strange as fiction. It is about a serious thing called marriage and the ungrateful task of choosing the right marriage partner, for a marriage which is in any case a strange thing. However, if you listen carefully, you just might get some wisdom here which cries out in the streets.

The reason this is a parody and marriage is serious, has to do with the duality of life, and therefore of marriage. In fact, it is my intention to hide the uneasy arguments to let you feel uneasy, as one should feel in marriage. You will know this article is wrong or absurd somewhere, but you won't know why and where. And that is also how a marriage is supposed to be.

Love brings bondage.
The Existentialists, a philosophy now buried and rotten, points out that our personal human relations are poisoned by feelings of alienation (see Part 9 - We are the aliens) from any 'other'. Alienation and hostility arise within the family between parents and children, between the husband and the wife and between the children. Alienation affects all social and work relations, and most cruelly, alienation dominates the relationship of love.

I will set the stage, or stage the set, with the absurd theory of the absurd philosopher  Jean-Paul Sartre, who used an absurd interpretation of language to prove an absurd philosophy of Existentialism. So if you feel that in marriage you barely exist, and mostly suffer, whilst you should thrive, you can blame him. Here are his words :
Especially hopeless is the relationship of love. In love, too, what the lover wants is not merely the physical possession of the other, but to possess the other's freedom. He does not want to enslave the beloved; he would feel humiliated by being loved by someone who was psychologically conditioned to love him. Also, total enslavement of the beloved to him, a mechanical beloved, would soon kill his love. On the other hand, the lover would not be satisfied with someone who loved him because she had freely taken a pledge (of marriage) to do so. The lover does not want to possess the beloved as a thing, he wants to possess the beloved as a free person. But the desire of the lover is hopeless - how can the beloved be a free person if I possess and enslave her freedom.

We only need to listen to the words of a lover or of some love songs, to see this enslavement ... words like 'you belong to me' or 'you belong to my heart' or 'you are mine' or 'please release me, let me go' . This type of rhetoric usually means the end of love.
Although Sartre turned from all his earlier philosophies, this one makes too much sense, and we will take it as valid, because we can see its validity. Further, without knowing it, Sartre has set the stage for our Ultimate Lover, namely God. In fact, I have seen many people who think that God does not love them anymore, once they have made a mistake or committed a sin. The fact is that God's love is unconditional, and mine usually conditional, and when I feel I have transgressed against God or myself, I myself set this limit that God does not love me anymore. One cannot have a rich and fulfilling relationship with God if we return conditional love in response to His unconditional love. This also goes for friendships in general and for marriage in particular.

However, in interpersonal relationships this is the dilemma we sit with, and this is the reason almost half of marriages end up in divorce - not that the other half is exempt from this injunction. They only suffer in silence and will not quit. I come from the latter generation where we never cried and never quitted, even if things got really rough, and to posit a concept of happiness in marriage for us would be absurd. It cannot exist for us. The only thing which exists for us, is commitment and seeing it through.
Are we happily married? ... I don't think that such a concept even exists, as happiness is only to be found in the heart of a person and not in a marriage, the latter being an impersonal but important institution. People are always more important than the institution in which they operate. So please unask that question.

So you see, Marriage is a lose-lose situation and the question which it begs - that of happiness - is a non-existing Essentialism, a state subordinate to Existentialism.
As a second stage of the set, I need to quote the song by Charlie Landsborough : I will love you all my life by:

You're forever telling me I'm weak
When I'm critized I never speak
I prefer to turn the other cheek
But I will love you all my life

I can never do things right by you
I'm the kind of man who muddles thru
You can find mistakes in all I do
But I will love you all my life

Something foolish happens and you see
In the Middle of it all there's me
Seems I cause you so much misery
But I will love you all my life

All my life, All I own
Everything is yours alone
Everyday my whole life thru
I will spend loving you

Everybody says for you I'm wrong
You'll get nowhere Fast with me along
They keep telling me I don't belong
But I will love you all my life

All my life, All I own
Everything is yours alone
Everyday my whole life thru
I will spend loving you

I will love you all my life

What I should really address, is how we can make sense from marriage and its intricacies and nuances - and let me start at personal happiness. Yes we have seen previously that we are based on all we experience and all we think - it is within us. And if I think I can marry and have someone else make me happy, I have stepped into the most fatal trap of marriage, and for that matter of any friendship. That is why so many friendships and marriages are little more than parasitic involvements. But, you do not want it to go that way, so you depend on your own happiness.

The reason why I write this is partially because of my own marital experiences, which I will try and hide under a blanket of secrecy, and more importantly, because I see my fellow men and women suffer so much unhappiness by this institution of happiness.

Unconditional love.
Firstly, now and then I see very happily married couples, for which this article is not written, but which aspect I must address here. There are two types of love - the unconditional one which I will treat firstly - and then there is the conditional one. The unconditional one Shakespeare champions in one of his famous Sonnetts :

Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds.

I am a fool for unconditional love, and will fall for it everytime, however weak its thread. Just a flicker of unconditional love stimulates me immensely. I am prepared for the risks and pain that accompany such a wild dash into it.
It is the love of 1 Cor. 13

v:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, v:5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; v:6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; v:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. v:8  Charity never faileth

But it takes a lot of courage and pain to pursue this.
My friend Marisma has a blog on this type of love, which I find very deep, profound and satisfying. You can read it here :

Love is also beautifully echoed in The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran :
When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you, believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you, that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.

And think not that you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Insert inserted on 21 June 2012.

Sorry that I have left out one of the most moving contemporary love songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber from Love Never Dies

Who knows when love begins?
Who knows what makes it start?
One day it's simply there, a life inside your heart
It slips into your thoughts
It infiltrates your soul
It takes you by surprise, then siezes full control

Try to deny it, and try to protest
But love won't let you go, once you've been possessed

Love never dies, love never falters
Once it has spoken, love is yours
Love never fades, love never alters
Hearts may get broken, love endures
Hearts may get broken, love endures
And soon as you submit
Surrender flesh and bone
That love takes on a life much bigger than your own
It uses you at whim
And drives you to despair
And forces you to feel more joy than you can bear

Love gives you pleasure and love brings you pain
And yet, when both are gone, love will still remain

Love never dies, love never falters
Once it has spoken, love is yours
Love never fades, love never alters
Life may be fleeting

Love never dies, love will continue
Love keeps on beating when you're gone
Love never dies, once it is in you
Life may be fleeting, love lives on
Life may be fleeting, love lives on

Conditional love.
And then we have conditional love. It is vile and servile, self centred, manipulative, domineering and parasitic. It enslaves, like our quoted philosopher explained. Stay away from that one with all your might. And if you are forced into it, keep it down to a dull roar. Commit yourself to the relationship, but not to the emotion, because such a relationship will be full of emotion, and emotion is always irrational. After all, you want some sense in your relationship. It is the type of thing where you feel like eating up your partner with love one day, and the very next day you are very sorry that you did not do it literally.

These individuals are in bondage, and for them this article is written.
Lastly it is for the therapeutic value I myself get from writing these articles - maybe you can also share in this therapy, or identify yourself with a partner in crime.

I am quite sure marriage is a Godly institution, meant to make a man and woman happy and set the stage for the nurturing of their progeny, because each one of us needs a friend, confidante and lover. And on these premises we give ourselves out in marriage. But, what do we get? Enough grief for a lifetime. And it does not need to be so. It can be an institution of happiness, quite easily, but we need to do our homework and make the right choices. If you are like most men and women who made the wrong choice, read on, I wish to add salt to your wounds - after all - that is what we deserve for plunging blindly into this most important relationship of our lives.
If I am happy in my marriage, it is not for the reasons you might think - in fact - for exactly the opposite reasons. And that is also why I need to address this in a parodist manner.

Cures and Counsel.
First of all, never marry a beautiful wife. Everyone thinks that that is the right thing to do, but you cannot be more away from reality than this. It will cost you endless trouble, and trouble is not the type of thing you want in a marriage. You need to steer away from anything remotely reminiscent of trouble. There is enough trouble in a marriage as it is, and adding to it will just compound your grief. There is a beautiful song written by Jimmy Soul :

If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her, then she starts
To do the things that will break his heart,
Most folks make this fatal error. And if it is you - repent at leisure. You should have known better.

Secondly, you think she must have the same interests, intellect and values that you have. This is known as fatal error number two. You want someone totally different from what you are. She must complement you - not vie with you  - and have the qualities you do not have. She must be from Venus and you must be from Mars - almost literally. If she is from Venus, she won't have time to check what you are doing on Mars. It is said that two opposite poles attract each other. As I have already said, we are what we experience and what we think - and as for me and my wife, we live experientially and thinkingly in two totally different worlds. Two worlds much further away from each other than even Venus and Mars. Mercurius and Pluto would be more accurate, or even Alpha Centuary and Sirius for that matter. If you ask me whether this works - the answer is nobody?
The third fatal error is Love. One cannot live from Love alone, there has to be bread in the house. The old adage says that when poverty enters the front door, love exits from the back door - that is to say, if you married for love. If you want to love someone, get a girlfriend and do not marry. But love in a marriage is lethal. If you love your wife, she will use that to cause you pain when you do not do what she likes, and you do not want to be hurt - and vice versa. Not very nice Peter. Many marriage partners suffer immensely from this malady. It is quite unnecessary. Love is not a prerequisite for marriage, and in many cases it is an impediment. You should steer away from this. In fact, love clouds your brain, so that you cannot act rationally, and rationality is what you need for survival.

The fourth fatal error is wealth and money. If only one partner has that, he or she will use it as a weapon to manipulate and dominate the other - a fact which is known as a serious cause for terminating marriages in a few months, although I have friends who have suffered this malady for decades. However, it is very painful and causes frustration, animosity and even murder. It is from this that the old adage comes, wherein the man said he never considered divorce, but murder - many times. It cannot last. And if both partners have wealth or money, why marry? Marriage is supposed to give the wife security, and if she has that, what can you add to her happiness? About zero.
Another fatal error is to be emotionally committed or attached. It is okay to be emotional and essential to be committed, but a deep emotional commitment is lethal. You will find that this type of thing only leads to serious conflict in which you will sustain unhealable wounds. In life this is called being in the moment, or stopping to smell the roses - or putting your heart into something. Putting your heart into marriage is just to get it broken. There are many things in a marriage that one just has to pass over or pass by or not take seriously. If you are a very emotional person, take the marriage emotional, but if you are not, a total commitment is much better to remain unscathed - and so by the way - this advice also works well in friendships, which, after all, a marriage really should be. You can read my articles on friendship to get some idea of what a friendship should be about. As for me, I am totally committed in a marriage and a friendship. If you are not, you are bound to get divorced and then the adage : The first marriage partner is from God, the second from yourself and the third from the devil, becomes true. I would not know from where the fourth one would be.

Are you a handsome male? This is a non starter. She will only need you to breed her lovely children, who will of course be dumb like yourself, and then you will have to pack your bags, when that party is over. Still, you do not have to be as ugly as the wife you chose. She has some own pride and a very ugly husband will not earn her a lot of points in society - something to do with the quality of her choices and what was available before she ended up on the shelf. That is, of course, not applicable to your choice of an ugly woman. You can easily get away with the ploy of pretending to having been forced into marriage, due to an indiscretion or not realising that you have been hooked, when you have already been toast for long.
However, you, as the handsome male, will have gone, while she finds out that she has to do the school homework for the children, themselves having not the intellect to do that kind of thing themselves. And you, being gone, will not have to do the homework for them. She will thus not realise that you are intellectually unable to help them with their homework.

And that brings me to the seventh fatal error that you can make. Being naive. You are here happily going along with a fine relationship, but you know that it is not the woman you wish to marry. On the other hand, she and her family have already decided that you are the man for her, probably because you have some money or pretend to have some. They then start this conspiracy and war plan to get you hooked and before the pulpit, whilst you are totally unaware of any such ploys. And one day you will find yourself before that selfsame pulpit and wonder how you got there. Ploys which may work for you, is if you pretend to be poor and dumb, and I also know of one bachelor who pretended to be married, in order to get out of such a fix. Women are known to only marry for security.
I have a female friend, whom I shall call Tracy, for the purposes of this discreet discussion, because that is actually her name. She was adamant that she would only marry a man who would be a worthy father for her children to be. Needless to say, she is still single and already past the stage where she could change her tune, or have children, or marry for security, having progressed so well in her own career. A man looking for security may now want to take her. There are many of those men.

Did I say anything about affordability? If you, as a man, cannot sustain yourself with your own salary, do not marry, because you will then also not be able to sustain a family on your meagre salary. And then your wife will have to work and you will have to wash the floors and make the beds, and even cook as well. And if you are wealthy, why marry? Rather stay single and waste your money on drink and betting on horses. It is just as fatal a thing.
Intellectuality and wisdom in a woman is a non starter. It only leads to conflict with a husband who knows nothing. If she is intellectual, she will never be allowed to show it - and that can be challenging and dangerous. Dumb blonds should marry as soon as possible. They have nothing to loose and everything to gain - marry any man as soon as possible, even before he asks you. You will also never know whether you have made  a mistake -  indeed, you might never get to know anything. This is a blessing in disguise.

And then there are the vows. It is unfortunately the custom today to have the spouses say 'I do' very loud in church. This is due to many partners having gotten wise because this vow was not in olden times yelled out loudly for all to hear, and the spouse then used this as a way to get out of marriage without breaking a vow. That is why we have a divorce rate of 50% in some countries - from previously having none of those yelling the vows out loudly. I just cannot imagine that anyone who yelled the vows out loudly, would keep a straight face when they get divorced, or pay such heaps of money to the divorcee as supposed liquidated damages. I mean, why pay for something that did not work in the first place, whilst you could have gone to the Consumer Council to lay a complaint about not getting value for money.
The eleventh fatal error is not to have subjected the spouse to a rigorous test. I know this is not in vogue now, but companies spend lots of money to test a prospective employee with all kinds of psychometric test, and that is not even for a lifetime. So why should you not? I can think of a whole array of tests which might prove useful, depending on what you marry for. If it is for money, get his or her financial standing checked out properly by none less than a chartered accountant, and let the accountant find out what loopholes and mortgages there are on this estate. You will in any case have to do this when you divorce, so starting early puts you in a real advantage. Your spouse will also know you have done these checks and will be more cautious when he or she wants to let this estate vanish completely during an impending divorce. Remember - when two people go into business, as many marriages are, then, when that relationship dissolves, the one with the experience will have the money and the one with the money will have the experience.

If you like food, have her checked out at a culinary establishment, in case you do not want to eat out every day of your life. I am quite sure you can think of many other and varied tests that will be applicable to your style of life.
Another aspect which you might like to check out, is the gender of your marriage partner. Although these days not a prerequisite, it is best if you are of the opposite sex - I mean physically and emotionally - and I am not trying to be funny. I already spoke above of the fact that opposites attract, and nowhere is it more important than on this aspect. You want some attraction in your marriage if the other attractions should fail, and this just might be the solution.

Note added 24 July 2014.
I have had a very sobering thought recently, which may validate the customs of old.
When I was in Turkey some years ago, I was told that when a baby girl is born, the friends of the parents who have a son of similar age, who are of similar class and who are thus the most likely in-laws for the new baby, will send a cradle to her and the family, and if the family accepts that cradle, the marriage is clinched there and then. I thought that this was preposterous. I was also told that these marriages are relatively happy.
However, if I consider the marriages in my wife's and my own family including grand parents and grand children, I come to the shocking conclusion that more than 90% of these marriages of own choice were with the seemingly wrong partner and are relatively unhappy.
I therefore have to consider whether arranged marriages are not more successful, and I come to the shocking conclusion that they are, because in arranged marriages the partners are selected by mature parents who are well versed with what makes a marriage work and know that a large class difference might bring about conflict in such a marriage. However, when the young and immature children choose themselves and marry, they do not know these things and they choose mostly wrong.
I am thus convinced that arranged marriages are more successful than those of personal choice. What a sobering thought!


  1. Well said. It is the first time i read a realistic view on marriages! Prisoners get set free after doing their time, but some marriages are worst then a prison sentence and old age death is the only certain release.

  2. What an absolutely thought-provoking, profound and real take on our complex and eternal struggle with the heart, mind, hopes and intent of man.... and the graceful, unatainable dance of interdependant souls as the ulimate.