Monday 18 December 2017

Marry in haste ... or read at your leisure

Alain de Botton. Photo: Julien Behal
Alain de Botton. Photo: Julien Behal

John Masterson

We only ever see marriages, other than one's own, from the outside. The glue that keeps people together, or the banana skins that put the couple under pressure, mostly take place in private. We have all seen close relationships and wonder how they ever stay together. And we have all been witness to break-ups that we did not see coming. It does seem to be much easier to fall in love than it is to stay together long term.

While pre-marriage courses may lift some of the blinkers from lovebirds' eyes, I suspect they do little to identify the long-term difficulties the couple will face in trying to mesh their lives together. Sure, they may discover that they have wildly different ways of handling money. They may differ on education and religion and it is no harm to discuss these things in advance. But the real meat of what our individual personalities require in a long-term trusting relationship, remains hidden. The things that will eventually drive us to distraction are not on view during the early stages of romance. They have been absorbed in our childhood years. They are very strong but buried deep.

We do not really know how we will deal with the close friendship our partner enjoys at work. Or how they will cope with our need for holidays with the entire extended family in tow, with our differing standards on disciplining children, with each other's friends, even with time spent on Facebook and Twitter.

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