I haven’t really lived all that long, but if I was prompted to pick out the most joyous occasion in my life, there are rather many events that bring a smile back to my face. Though those moments are probably different for everyone, the first things that pop into my head are of course marriage, and childbirth. How could I forget the tearful moment of those vows, “Will you love them… …In sickness and in health… forsaking all others, keeping yourself only unto them”? Also, nothing could replace the joy and wonder of the life newly born after the long labor.
As times have changed, so have marriage customs. Though Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre successfully lived as pioneers of arranged marriages, there don’t seem to be many following in their tracks. This is probably because marriage is an eternal vow, not just a momentary contract. Though premarital cohabitation is growing extremely fast in numbers, there seem to be two sides to cohabitation. One in which two individuals cohabit temporarily without the premise of marriage, and the other where two individuals live together, married de facto, but without having had the ceremony. Though optimal marrying age is increasing and bachelorism is trending, something else that’s noticeably grown is gay marriages. Moreover, because there are more forms of marriages, depending on circumstances and interests, novel designs and locations may appear. Of course, others stick to bachelorism to the end.
Life is a yearning for the ‘road not traveled’ but it is also conviction in one’s own path. To me, a Catholic, marriage is accepted as a holy call just as celibacy is. It is merely that some choose celibacy and some choose marriage, all paths are holy – for they are all a sacred call to life. I respect the path of a bachelor which I could not travel, and long for its freedom. But the married life has its own freedom and bountiful appeal. For those who hesitate to marry for various reasons, as a mentor and someone who’s experienced it, I’d like to recommend them to take heart and challenge themselves to the life of living together. Even when you have nothing, because you have love, I believe that anything you wish could be built upon it.
There are lots of things I’d like to say about married life and love, but at the same time I’m out of words. After all, words are of no use to a couple blinded by love. If every advice remedied all the ills, nobody would be unhappy – and if at some point their fire of love has been extinguished, no advice could rekindle it: because people live by their own way. Still, as an upperclassman in life, I’d like to share three insights about love and marriage that I’d experienced with the soon to be wedded couple.
Alain de Botton first said “We are not wholly alive until we are loved” [On Love], but I want to say that we are not wholly alive unless we love. I want to tell that you have to be a discoverer and an inventor of love so that you can love each other more. From the new start called marriage, the mutual love and respect must be renewed. Day by day, you must each discover and invent a newer, more beautiful love, as well as each other. With mutual respect for each other, each day should be more loving than the last. In living, there is no absence of pain and sorrow. However, the sad and hurtful pasts are merely memories. Just as the sun rises each day, I implore you to put efforts into making time to create a new love every day.
Secondly, it takes two to improve a marriage. No one person should expect or demand another’s sacrifice, and both must put in efforts for each other’s betterments. The husband for wife and the wife for husband, both must provide generous assistance to each other to be a better person. In order to do that, a democratic relationship where everything is discussed, and decided on together, must begin at home. Do remember, children are not only monitors who watch their parents’ every move, but also the imitator of all that you do as well.
Third, the structure of marriage must be a triangle, the most complete of them all. The two points at the each end of a triangle are each a wife and a husband. Then who represents the point at the top? I see many cases where young parents today place their children upon the pinnacle. Depending on the parents’ love and skills, children can mark many dots along the line above their parents. It’s just that the point at the top ought to be a place to uphold the unseen god (in my case, the Christian God). Though invisible, I hope that in all the things you do, you realize that there divine God beyond man, and feel reverence for both human, and life. I sincerely hope that you carefully adjust the distance between each other to keep this triangle structure from breaking.
For the path the two of you have set foot on together, I send all of my blessings, cheers, and applause.
Translation: Jung In Kim