Put here because I like what she wrote. Of course it takes two hands to clap. The title could have been more gender neutral.
Bride for a day or wife for a lifetime?
Weekend • July 1, 2006
Frances Ong Hock Lin
RECENTLY, a friend called and asked me to speak to her grandchild who had run away. She had dropped out of school and was spending most of her time at the arcade. Her divorced parents were at their wits' end.
Another child from a single parent's home is now living in a girl's home because she was caught shoplifting.
While we cannot generalise that all children from broken homes will end up as delinquents, the risk is a serious consideration whenever couples contemplate divorce or separation.
While there are legitimate reasons for divorce — such as if one spouse is abusive or unfaithful — there is also rising concern that more people are getting married and divorced on a moment's whim.
If someone wants to be a taxi driver, he has to undergo training before he is given a licence. He has to know the basic tourist attractions and road names, how to handle passengers and to keep the taxi clean. Similarly, a tour guide is trained before he is licensed.
Upgrading courses are also conducted regularly.
Why is it, then, so simple for one to get a licence to marry? And if an employee is required to go for continuous upgrading throughout his professional life, why is it that a married couple is not required to revitalise and rejuvenate their marriage once they pass a certain number of years?
A friend of mine married her boyfriend at the age of 19 because she found out that she was pregnant with his child. One year later, she divorced him and left the child to be brought up by her parents while she went in search of a new boyfriend.
While in the past, it was expected that a man marry his pregnant girlfriend, the marriage usually worked because there was the network of an extended family to provide the emotional and social support this young couple needed.
Now, because of the predominance of the nuclear family and the stigma of divorce being not what it was in the past, perhaps it's time for society to re-examine the role of a single mother or father.
Two wrongs do not make a right, and forcing someone to marry because of the unborn child is cruel to both the parents and the child. The child could be offered for adoption or the father or mother should bring up the child alone.
Another friend did not do the irresponsible thing — he did not marry his estranged pregnant girlfriend. Instead, he continued to play his role as a father and waited patiently for the right partner to turn up. Six years later, he married someone he felt could provide a secure and safe environment for the child.
While it is impossible to mandate that all couples go for compulsory counselling before a marriage licence is issued, perhaps it would be good for couples to consider why they should take that uncharted step.
There are many reasons why couples choose to walk down the aisle.
It could be that their HDB flat has been built, so they need to get married in a hurry. It could be that the girl is dying to be a bride and so considers the bridegroom as optional extra.
It could also be that both had given in to societal pressure or lack the courage to break up a relationship because everyone was expecting them to tie the knot.
But there is only one reason that will see a marriage through for the long haul — and that is to make the other person happy.
So, let those women who fantasise about being a bride pause and ask: Why must I get married? Do I need to in order to be happy? What is the difference between being a bride for a day and a wife for a lifetime?
If all you can think about is the wedding gown, the flowers and the photo shoots, perhaps you should consider being a bridal model instead — it is less painful to break a professional contract than a marriage contract.
The writer is an educator and mother of six, who has been married for 18 years.
Read this, this and this too.
What do you think? Have we as a society become too complicated and cynical when it comes to marriage (and love)?