I wish we’d recognise that marriage is a lumbering elephant.
We want the fleeting sharp tang of romance, and we mistake it for love and the making of a solid marriage, but marriage doesn’t have the soaring-in-the-sky quality of a brilliant flamingo. Elephants don’t fly.
We want a partner to share in all our sorrows and happiness, but an elephant doesn’t do that either. It just is an elephant. It gives a nice shade when it chooses to stand between you and the sun, but then, it has to make that choice. You don’t want to be caught beneath its bulk if it decides to take a snooze. You don’t want to be anywhere near it if it is in the mood for a muddy bath or a dust shower. Or when it’s raging mad because a tiny arrow’s dug into its hide. Same applies when it’s terrified too.
Marriage is just an elephant plodding along, going nowhere but to the next pond or grass or field. And although there are times when it takes to its heels, it doesn’t do that for long and even then, its sturdy legs come down hard on the ground. But remember, it walks with immense grace.
And we are the blind men and women forming our opinions of marriage. Each of us, we hold a different part of the elephant’s body and we call it by different names. We call it romance and love and affection and trust and adjustment and respect and space and such things. Sadly, there are names that we don’t want to admit, least of all to ourselves, ownership and pride and showpiece and a maid-for-all-purposes or a man-for-all-the-muscle and many of those iffy things that break the spirit of our marriages.
We all expect something out of our marriage. And we don’t realise that some expectations are an impossibility. We want our spouse to be like us in some ways and unlike us in other ways. We aren’t keen on recognising this fact.
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You love that lady for her values because they match so much with yours. But, try living with her and you find that she’s not the extrovert that you are. She’s the complete opposite. Your life is filled with people, you’re calling on friends and receiving guests and hosting dinners when all she wants to do is curl up on the window’s ledge by herself. It becomes a daily problem and it seeps your love away a drop at a time.
Or he’s the big muscle man you wanted between you and the world. He’s able to take on the world and that’s just what you desire. But, turns out, he wants his way and even if he lets you have your way, he just won’t do the things you love doing. Turns you lonely quite fast.
Or he’s the perfect man that everyone says he is, but that perfection isn’t your idea of perfection.
Or she’s beautiful with a soft voice, playful as hell, but do you burn in jealousy?
Luck seems to be ours if our partner shares the same good thing that we want to share. But, that luck is rare to come by. That’s probably for a reason. There’s more to learn when that luck doesn’t find us than when it does. So, we may as well get going with the learning.
We could begin to see what we are and what we are not.
Then we try to see what the partner is and what the partner isn’t – as much as we are capable of seeing.
We’ll still not see everything. We cannot see the worst or the best side in ourselves and in the partner until we are put to the test. But, the traits that lead up to it will be there. Deal with what you can see and you’ll be more capable of dealing with the later shifts.
So let’s make a change in our way of thinking. Let’s not try to change the partner’s ways, but try to accept these when we ought to. Let’s not attack the other, but try to see the partner’s viewpoint and leave it at that. Let’s not wish for what we don’t have, but see the good in what we have.
Let’s not label marriage as this or that. Let’s recognise it for the big lumbering thing that it is and let it bring out the best in us. Aren’t we on our best behaviour when we face an elephant, untethered and without its mahout? That’s not adjustment, that’s rising to the marriage.