Relationship Advice

When You Marry for a Reason Other Than Love

There is only one kind of real marriage, but there are countless kinds of wrong marriages: Marriage is not for joining estates, securing social position, woman and dog in stormescaping from your family, or because you feel left out in a "couples' world." To marry for a reason other than love is to sacrifice your happiness.

You long for a total bond with a person. You long for the one who is right for you. But you're afraid of admitting your feelings to friends because they'd tell you that this is wishful thinking -- that you believe in fairy tales. They would say, "Grow up. This is life, not a movie." But there are people who have exactly the kind of relationship you want. They have found their other half. These couples know they are supposed to be together. They feel they have entered a whole new world, a world they didn't even know existed. What they have far exceeds the conventional "good marriage". They belong to each other.

If you truly loved a person, you wouldn't need the person to change in order to be perfect for you. You can't turn a wrong person into the right person no matter how much duct tape you use. If you wonder if a certain person is your other half, that person is not.

When you love the idea of a person -- not the real person -- you aren't in love. If you truly loved a person, you wouldn't be thinking "but" or "if only". woman and dog in stormThis may not seem to matter when you are dating, or even after you become engaged, but once you're married, your energy and patience will wane, and the "buts" and "if onlys" will get bigger and bigger and bigger.

No hard work, no compromise, no amount of counseling will make an empty relationship work. You may have an amiable wrong marriage, but you have still married the wrong person.

If you loved chocolate, you wouldn't have to work at loving chocolate. Isn't it obvious that you don't have to work at being with the one who's right for you? Listen to you heart. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. Stop pretending. Before you marry, search for the "but", "except" or "if only". If you find one, you have a sure sign you are with the wrong person.

We are tired of hearing that all couples fight. People who tell you that, don't know what love is. Slamming doors, hurling accusations, bringing up things that happened five years ago, smashing plates, name-calling, shoving, slapping, hitting each other, the silent treatment -- these are not the actions of two persons in love. Marriage is not a battleground.

If you're dating someone and having these problems, face up to it. It isn't right. It will never be right.

A lot of good people get into wrong relationships for innocent reasons. They don't know what real love is, but they want someone. They want someone so much they are willing to pretend it is all right.

They want someone, almost anyone, so much that they will lie to everyone and to themselves so they can be married. They lie to escape loneliness, to escape pressures, to be like everyone else. When they don't tell the truth to themselves, they end up living a lie. They marry someone with whom they can't even communicate.

If you can't talk to your spouse about anything and everything, if you can't speak to your spouse from your heart, then to whom can you talk? If you have to talk to a paid stranger, doesn't that tell you something is wrong?

When you married for better or for worse, the worse refers to life, not what the wrong person decides to put you through. Self-preservation is not selfishness.

There are people attacking divorce as if it were the problem. They don't understand that divorce is just a reaction to the problem. The problem is two people who don't belong together.

People are not getting divorced because they are immoral or selfish. It's because these people have been suffering in bad marriages for years and years. Now things are changing, and some people are getting out of these marriages. But they still don't know how to get it right. Until you know what you are doing wrong -- and why -- you can't get it right.

Some people say you are taking the easy way out, and being selfish when you end a wrong relationship. It takes a lot more character to end a wrong marriage than to stay in it. It's not easy, but for the children's sake and yours, it is right. Your children will always be your children, the responsibilities of caring for and rearing them don't end with the divorce. But if you don't show your children the kind of relationship you want them to have, you're training them to repeat the same scenes in their own marriages. If you stay in a relationship with a cheater, you teach the children that there are no consequences for doing wrong. When children are taught for 15 or 20 years by someone who's doing it wrong, they will do it wrong, and teach their children to do it wrong.

It's not a forced event. It's not something you can make happen or stop from happening. It is nature at its most mysterious. It could be that the two of you have been dancing around each other for a long time, waiting to connect. Just because you missed it the first time, doesn't mean that the attraction goes away. You somehow know you were born to come to this. It is destiny. You must be together. Anything else is inconceivable.

We are talking about the person with whom you are completely yourself. Only a very few let this happen to them. Most destroy their chances. That's why so many people say, "I never experienced this," or "This hasn't happened to me." They are not letting it happen.

Your other half is the person who touches the deepest feelings you have. This is the person who will love you just as you are -- just as you want to be loved.

This doesn't mean you will live a charmed life. What it does mean is that you have found the rest of you, and that no matter what situations come into your life, you are not alone. You and your other half can deal with life together.

There's an old song called Torn Between Two Lovers. No. If you are torn between two lovers, neither is the right one.

When will you find your other half? You don't find you other half when you are desperately searching. This happens only when you have dropped your mask.

If you want the one person who is exactly right for you, then you have to be you. No saying or doing things that are not you, no pretending to be someone else. If you don't want someone who lies or plays games, you can't do those things either. How can you be known by the one for you, if you are acting like someone else?

When You Marry for a Reason Other Than Love by Wayne & Tamara Mitchell. Reprinted with permission from Bonkers magazine (Cover feature March/April 1999).
• Cartoon Illustrations for the article: © Annie Tempest - The O'Shea Gallery, London -