March 28, 2018
The wedding is for a day but the marriage is for a lifetime. And therefore, to start on the right note, the main focus needs to be on planning a ‘life’ together and not merely planning an ‘event’ that will be over in a day. If this is the mature mindset with which the couple approaches the event of the wedding, negotiation on logistics and wedding expenses will also become easier, because the focus will be a on building a life together.
Maturity and Simplicity
Moreover, keeping the wedding very simple (sans too many rituals) and inexpensive, will ensure that the number of non-negotiables between the couple and their families will be kept to a minimum. This would also prevent arguments from taking place and tempers from escalating over the ‘symbolic event’. If either of the in-laws want things a certain way, then it is the couple’s maturity and unity that will help make decisions more smoothly. Maturity in both is key.
In the case of inter-religious marriages, a registered marriage instead of a religious ceremony, followed by a wedding reception or a small dinner party for very close friends is the wisest way. However if there is an insistence on religious ceremonies, then both types of ceremonies can take place with ‘mutual respect’. This does not necessarily indicate problems going forward, as long as both respect the other’s religion and freedom of choice to follow their religious practices and traditions, and if both have mutually and happily agreed upon how to raise the children going forward.
If things are kept simple in terms of the wedding, and if roles are divided between both in terms of who is in charge of which aspect of the event, the groom/bride could opt for those aspects that he/she finds easy to execute. If both demarcate the aspects that they are comfortable handling, arguments will be minimised. The other should also ensure that he/she does not question or interfere in or control how the other executes those aspects of the event. This ability to negotiate and demarcate roles comes handy in the course of shared daily living, where both can amicably divide their roles and responsibilities to ensure that life runs smoothly.
A prenup is definitely a good idea today, given all the bitter divorces taking place around us nowadays. Parting ways need not be so ugly and painful, if only both can easily reach settlements that are mutually acceptable. A prenup can ensure such ease and reduce the angst, if and when both cannot pursue happiness together. Moreover I am observing in my premarital clients, that not having a prenup today, is resulting in a lot of distrust and suspicion in both, as they see ugly divorces happening all around them. He suspects that she might take him to the cleaners in the unfortunate event of a divorce, and therefore holds back financial information, and she suspects she may be out in the cold if things sour, and insists on keeping her own income to herself and not wanting to spend equally for a shared life, thus resulting in a ‘my’ money ‘your’ money scenario. However, if there is a prenup it can result in getting all this distrust and suspicion out of the way right at the outset. A prenup also ensures that neither one feels financially cheated, and therefore they are able to part relatively amicably with mutual consent. Explaining these benefits of a prenup to the couple will prepare them to maturely welcome it instead of reject it or stigmatise it.
At the premarital stage, a free and frank discussion about sharing expenses while building a shared life will also bring out the financial values and lifestyle choices of both. It will also bring to light whether the spending and saving style of both match or not. Categorising needs, comforts and luxuries, discussing long range financial goals, and investing for a retirement plan, are all valuable premarital conversations which can simplify daily life of the married couple. If there is a strong disagreement at this stage due to a mismatch of financial values and lifestyle choices, it is best that both step back and reconsider the alliance.
To conclude, marriages are simplified if both are able to have mature and mutually respectful premarital conversations about sensitive areas of shared living, if both are able and willing to co-create a togetherness space called marriage, and if both are willing to equally contribute to make it mutually fulfilling in every way. However life is uncertain and brings forth many challenges. Happiness is not negotiable and both have an equal right to happiness. Therefore, simplifying marriages also means accepting at the outset that in the journey of life, there will be good times and bad, and if after genuine and sustained efforts on the part of both, they are not happy as life companions, then both will part ways amicably, freeing oneself and the other to engage in the pursuit of happiness.