Marriage relationships come in different forms and dimensions. For the purposes of this discussion, we shall categorise them into six broad groups:
- Money mates
- Sex mates
- Social mates
- Bickering mates
- Soul mates
These are couples who live in the same house or apartment or even room but have little in common. The only thing that unites them is that they live in the same house. They hardly talk to each other. Every discussion degenerates into a quarrel or a fight. Therefore, they have chosen not to have anything in common except when absolutely necessary. Discussions are done most times via the phone to reduce the rate of physical interface. Sometimes discussions are done through notes dropped on paper with pen. Even children are used occasionally as communication channels. The marriage has broken down but the couple still cling to it for various reasons.
- Money mates
These are couples held together by money matters. The man or woman may be financially dependent on the other. There are school fees to pay, rent to pay, foodstuff to buy, clothing and footwear to buy as well as holiday bills, medical bills, social bills and the like to take care of. Because one of them takes care of the financial needs of the family, the other partner holds on to the marriage. The breadwinner is tolerated because of this.
The partners barely talk to each other. The breadwinner does whatever he or she likes. The other partner knows but looks away. The reasoning is that nothing should be done to disrupt the financial relationship.
Consequently, most times, the breadwinner gets arrogant and abusive and exudes impunity. The breadwinner dishes out sexual recklessness, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and brazen disrespect to the spouse. This ugly state of affair continues ad infinitum except the other party decides to rebel or start earning money, or there is a swap of financial conditions between the two.
These couples are also detached from one another. The only highpoint of their marriage is sex. It is the glue that holds them together. Sometimes during discussions with those who are close to them, they say it: “If there is one thing that keeps me in this marriage, it is the sex.” It may be that both of them are good in bed or sexually compatible or that the couple have such libido that ensures that they cannot do for long without sex.
They know that life without an official partner will mean having to regularly searching for a sex partner or burning with desire when that sex partner is not available. But in marriage, one does not necessarily have to climb the mountain or cross the river to have sex. One also does not need to fear being caught.
For sex mates, quarrelling with one’s partner does not put a nail on the coffin of lovemaking. They can quarrel in the evening before bedtime, go to bed in a bad frame of mind, and still touch each other on the bed, make love and sleep peacefully. When they wake up they next day, they continue their loveless marriage.
- Social mates
These are married couples who hang on to marriage because of what society will say or think. They are no longer connected in any way. But for the sake of their children or their religion or their community or profession, they need to continue to be seen as married. Society sees marriage as a sign of success, responsibility and dignity. A divorced person is viewed as someone with a question mark. Some religions frown at divorce. Divorced people lose certain rights and rating in their religion. Certain professions give subtle disadvantage to divorced people. Politics is one of them. The reasoning is that someone who cannot manage one person may not be able to manage many people.
For some, it is the fear of not being available for one’s children as they grow. It may also be the fear of not being able to take care of the needs of those children as a single parent in terms of finances or time. It may also be the fear of being seen as an irresponsible parent for being absent during the formative years of the children.
Social mates, therefore, ensure that the public sees them together. They tolerate each other’s presence because they do not want to face the societal consequences of not being together.
- Bickering mates
These are partners who live like cat and mouse. They are ever bickering. There is no real happiness between them but they do not hate each other. They simply have hurt each other too much that they now assume that marriage is meant to be tolerated and not enjoyed. They do not believe that their partners can be better than they are. They quarrel in the morning, make up in the afternoon and quarrel at night. They wake up without being happy with each other but something may happen in the afternoon to make them happy for a while before they return to their cat-and-mouse mode, which is their factory mode.
Whenever they talk, they emphasize that “there is no marriage in which the partners don’t quarrel.” Based on their experiences, they have come to believe that constant quarrelling is an intrinsic part of marriage.
Interestingly, the cause of the quarrelling is not usually something earth-shaking. It is usually caused by personal traits that run against the worldview of the other. What one person considers as right is considered wrong by the other. These issues constantly irritate the other person. The person causing the irritation sees the other person as intolerant and finicky and no longer cares whether the partner is irritated or not. Interestingly, those things that irritate the partner get commended by outsiders. But the question is whether one is married to outsiders or to someone. The bottom line is that incompatibility in different aspects of life is to blame for this.
- Soul mates
These have two advantages over the others: They are compatible in critical areas of life and are committed to making their marriage work by ensuring that the happiness of their partner is paramount to them and that issues are resolved quickly before they become problems.
Soul mates do not take each other for granted. They do not disrespect each other. They do not intentionally hurt each other. They give each other the benefit of the doubt, because they are convinced that their spouse never means any harm to them. When their partner is not happy, they go to the root of that unhappiness and uproot it, because they understand that if their spouse is not happy, their happiness is incomplete.
They have a kind of spiritual connection that when you meet one of them on an issue, the response you will get is the same thing you will get from the other. This is because they understand one another and strive to ensure that the other person is happy.
Soul mates do not force themselves to appear happy for the cameras or the public. They are happy because they are happy. Their marriage is not defined by unhappiness that is punctuated by happiness. Once in a while, they may face some issues but they have built-in mechanism for quick resolution of such issues.
In conclusion, compatibility is critical to the success of marriage. But most importantly, the two people must decide that their marriage will work by not just being concerned about their happiness but also the happiness of their spouse.
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