How to Make Marriage Work
One of the questions that I am asked frequently is how to choose the right person for companionship and marriage. Trying to find the perfect partner is expecting the impossible. One reason why marriage can be tumultuous is because you have to share so many things in this relationship. The issue is neither marriage, nor is it about a man and a woman, husband and wife. In any situation where you are forced to share a lot with other people, you will face similar problems.
In a marriage or cohabitation, you usually have to share the same space, the same everything. Consequently, every day, you are treading on each other’s toes in one way or the other. In other relationships, if someone is overstepping the boundaries, you can create a distance. Here, you do not have a choice. The greater the overlap, the greater the possibility of friction.
There are many couples who are living beautifully together, who are profoundly in love, and who are fantastic companions to each other. At the same time, this relationship can assume the ugliest forms. One contributing factor is that generally, no one gets to know the ugly things that are happening behind closed doors. If someone on the street steps on your feet, you will react in a different way, because everyone is watching. But in this relationship, no one is watching, so anything can happen.
What is needed to make a marriage successful is not the perfect person – there is no perfect person on the planet. What you need is absolute integrity. Whether someone is watching or not, you should act in the same way. Who you are should not change depending upon where and with whom you are. Once you have established your way of being, interacting with another person can be a joy. Another aspect is that if you try to extract something out of each other, and you or the other person does not get what he or she wants, there will be constant conflict.
You as an individual have to evaluate if this is just a passing interest, or if there is a strong need to have someone by your side. Not everyone has to get hitched, nor does everyone have to live alone. This is something that individuals have to look at for themselves. You should only get married if there is such a strong need in you that without a companion, you cannot live, and you believe marriage will be a stepping stone for your wellbeing.
There is nothing wrong with getting married. But if you get married without you having the need to do so, then it is a crime, because you will cause misery to yourself and at least one other person. We would advise everyone to get married if the human race was in danger of disappearing, but the human population is exploding. If you do not reproduce, you do humanity a great service. Leaving that aside, the important thing is this – not everyone needs to get married.
When someone asked Gautama the Buddha, “Should I have a companion?” he said, “It’s better to walk alone than to walk with a fool.” I am not that cruel. I am saying: if you find a similar fool, then something can be worked out. But based on your need – not because of what society is saying, not because others are getting married, not because you worry about being alone.
What is your intention for your companion? It should not be something like, “If I’m getting lost, let me have another person who gets lost with me.” Companionship or marriage does not solve existential problems. It just takes care of some of your needs. If you have strong physical, emotional, or psychological needs, then you should look for a companion. You should not get married for social and financial reasons alone.
Another point to remember is that you get married because you need support. This support may be physical, emotional, psychological, social, or financial – whatever it may be, you do not get married out of charity for the other person. You get married because you need certain things. If the other person is willing to provide them to you, and you live in gratitude, then there will not be too much friction.
Do not look for the ideal man or the ideal woman – there is none. If you understand that it is your needs that make you seek a companion, find someone who is reasonably compatible with you. If you accept, respect, love, include, care for, and take responsibility for each other, it can be a beautiful relationship.
Two lives can become one
The hope of every lover.
The longing to be enjoined
with another life is a longing
for completeness of life’s experience.
The Beauty is not togetherness
but of near perfect alignment
Like the shadow and its source
being alike in moments
of rare perfection. But alas
life is of the moving sort.
As the light source moves the
shadows will not align with
the source. They wax and wane
with every passing moment.
The opacity of your Being brings
shadows of umpteen kind.
In knowing the transparence
of One’s Being, shall you know the
shadowless existence of perfect Alignment