I rarely comment on a particular person, much less a beauty queen as Ms Teo Ser Lee. It is not about her actually, but a person who wrote in to Today (24 September 2008, Voices, page 29) to state that "meeting the right person for marriage requires a lot of luck to start with". She was commenting on the fact that Ms Teo, despite her undoubted beauty, remains unmarried at 43.
I don't know if the letter writer had in mind the play on the word 'luck' which Ms Teo's brother, the Honourable MP, Mr Teo Ser Luck, holds, that inspired her to spout this line of inexplicable err... nonsense. In my experience, and I believe in thousands of others, meeting the right person for marriage really has nothing to do with luck at all, good or bad.
In the first place, luck is usually used as a catchall to attribute causes that cannot be explained or, more likely, something that one is too lazy to explain. To me, that is as good as not saying anything. No, luck (whatever it is), has nothing to do with marrying the right person. When is a person the 'right' one, anyway? When the 2 decide that they should get hitched? On the day of solemnisation of marriage before God? In the first 7 years, until the 7-year itch kicks in (not that I believe in the 7-year itch)? After 15 years of marriage? Until the marriage survives till the golden jubilee? People have been known to divorce after being married for 20 years! Did the couple become 'unright' for each other only after 20 years? Clearly, the 'right' person is an elusive entity.
Rather, what I think is important in making a marriage last is not the first flush of love or infatuation, the good vibes (whatever that means again), or as many TV and movies suggests - a mutual 'click' and romantic fit. I have been married 15 years - not so long that I have become an authority on it, but not that short not to have understood something of the process of keeping married. Many years ago, after I was already married, someone taught me that a couple must have a certain fondness for each other. It didn't matter if they were otherwise incompatible in many ways. For example, I am an 'early to bed early to rise' type of person whereas my wife is a night owl. I love reading and writing, but my wife would rather spend her time talking to people (she is a people person) - mind you that is altogether different from gossiping, which she detests. My wife cannot keep money from flowing out of her bank account. I would rather take a bus than a taxi.
Really, if you look at the two of us, we couldn't be more different than night is from day. Yet I have grown very fond of her over the years. Towards the end of the work day, I would think of the dinner she would have whipped up that I will be going home to. Sometimes, she buys in, but I am no less appreciative of her effort. We talk about things, our day at the office, at home, about our friends and relatives, really nothing substantive along the lines of the important politics of the day or dwell deep into the philosophy of life. Yet I enjoy our conversation because it is laced with complaints, humour, care and concern, rage and irony. Sometimes I think she is a bit shallow in her thinking, but I always let it pass, remembering that I am not in a University lecture hall debating something critical to life and thought. Instead, I try to appreciate where she is coming from and often, underneath the apparent shallowness, she has a point. I look forward to days when I am on leave so that I can have a slow breakfast with her at the local coffeeshop.
But at other times, she gets under my skin and I'd complain about her in front of our son even - in her absence of course! We'd end up in a cold war - until someone gives in. We take turns doing that - giving in - though I tend to do so more often. Leave pride and ego outside the door, I always remind myself. This is not about me, its about us, about the family, and whatever differences we had, it wasn't that serious to warrant a permanent stand-off. We appreciate each other for giving in - not because anyone 'has won', but because it just isn't fun while it lasted.
I can go on, but suffice to say, marriage needs working on and done properly, fondness for each other will grow over time. So I regret that some people are still looking for love or that 'right' person. You will probably not find him/her if we must size up that person first with a whole kitchen list of must-haves. By the time this person appears, you'd only have a third of your life left to give to each other. The biological factory would have shut down, depriving both the joy of having children.
Don't be reckless when it comes to marriage, but then, choosing a life partner is not about finding that perfect person either. Non exists. It is what the two of you want for each other that is important, not what I want from the marriage that the other must fulfill.
Image Source: morgueFile.com. Author: Stijn Swinnen