(The following article authored by myself originally appeared on the magazine Yliopisto-Lehti)
“The purpose of marriage is not being happy”. My colleague stares at me with eyes wide open, not knowing what to say, when I state that while having lunch with her. “Then what is?”, she asks, opening a life theme I have pondered upon since childhood, while witnessing my parents, still married after a lifetime.
Since childhood, we are conditioned to associate marriage with happiness. Fairytales end as soon as prince and princess are wed and summarise a life together by “they lived happily ever after”. Later movies come in, protagonists divorce and claim “I wasn’t happy anymore”.
Who marries with the expectation that marriage will grant them individual happiness is doomed to swallow a hard reality pill. The goal of marriage is to create a family (with or without children) capable of living in harmony. In a way, the goal is marriage itself, and making sure it lasts until “death do us apart”. Long ages of unhappiness are sure to happen in a shared lifetime.
For me it was crucial to witness my parents’ marriage. There were happy times and intense arguments. Times when they were so in harmony, they seemed to waltz with each other in daily life. Others when they spoke different languages. It was always clear their common goal was building, preserving, fostering our family.
My pragmatic approach is in truth extremely idealistic. Individual happiness and couple harmony should be pursued as incentive, not goals. Love as you know at the start of the relationship is bound to end: what is left are values and the commitment to defend family.
These are the fundamental ingredients, despite not sufficient. Like in anything, you need a pinch of good luck.
So, no, you will not live happily ever after, but you will live together, which, as far as I am concerned, is much better.
Do you agree with my point of view? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment. If you liked this post, you may like also:
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