Cultural differences and marriage in the 21st Century

Posted by in Relationships on October 21, 2012 0 comments

I had a few chats with people this morning about how life and family is looked at in this day and age.

The first conversation was with a Greek man who has been with his wife for 20 years, married 16 of those years, and they didn’t move out of home from the parent’s nest until their wedding day. He always picked her up to go on a date, and dropped her home, even though she lived about 25kms away from where he lived. His mother even suggested to her parents that it would be silly for him to drop her off back to her place when it was late at night, but he didn’t want a bar of it. He wanted to treat her with respect and wait till their wedding night. However, his mother had drilled into him from early on that he will sleep with many women in his time, but never sleep with the woman who will be your wife… treat her with respect. So he treated her with respect in one way, but I’m sure he was playing up behind her back before they were married, as boys do….

But one thing which he mentioned that made me stand back, was that he knows that when he married his wife they were compatible, and he is thankful that they are still compatible, but he doesn’t know in 10 years or 20 years time if their ideas in life will change and they want different things, so he lives for the moment, not for living a life together to grow old together. And I think, in today’s day and age, that is an extremely healthy attitude to have. Many couples ‘vow’ that they will be together ’till death do us part,’ but in fact the constant fighting, anguish, financial hardship, different parental points of view, and heartache could actually be the death of their relationship or an actual spouse. If you don’t set high expectations in your marriage, and enjoy each day for what it is rather than counting up the years, you can never be disappointed when things get awkward. Those couples struggle with the fact that they said the vow of ’till death do us part’ but can’t cope with actually being together. It’s just so sad….

We talked about, as we were both parents, what our living expectations of our children will be when they are adults. I said that I now treat my boys as part of a team… we all help each other. If it’s homework, housework, getting meals ready, putting out rubbish… we all help each other. And I want to instil that into them so that when they do become adults, it’s not a rude awakening of taking on some of the responsibility. I know in my heart that no matter what, there will be a roof over my boys’ head if they need one. I envisage a life where we are all travelling, separately or together and come back to the same home whenever we feel the need. I know that we will all contribute to the running of that home, depending on our time there, and if ever my boys get married, and they can’t afford a home of their own, it wouldn’t be any trouble for them to live under my roof – with or without children, because they are my boys. In some ways, this way of life is getting back to the roots of how life is in many third world villages, European homes and Asian countries – families sticking together and helping each other out.

There is a westernised expectation that we can stand on our own two feet and be independent, but the cost of living is overwhelming for some and they just can’t afford it. Which leads me to the second conversation I had today, about the number of divorces happening out there, due to financial hardship. So many people are living beyond their means and are literally living a life of debt. Divorce makes it even harder, as now you need to have two homes, with two different sets of everything for the children. But people in general, prefer to be happy than stagnant and miserable. They choose to be the master of their destination than be pulled back by something that’s not working. Some are choosing to stay in their marriage until their children are adults, knowing that they get 50/50 of the split, but also, because their own parents are dying and leaving a Will to them (and they want to make sure they are financially separated before their parents die), so that even if they get 50/50 from their divorce, they will soon also get a proportion of their parental inheritance which will help them move forward more easily. It is a very calculating time for some who work out their exact moves. It is said, that many women plan for years in their mind of how they will leave their husbands – setting up separate bank accounts, putting away secret funds, working out what type of home they will live in, etc. But some, like me, just say enough is enough and can no longer live in that existence.

For me, I am all for independence, however I am also all for being there for my boys. While you are alive, you always want them to know that they can always count on you to be there for them, whenever they cry for help. After all, that’s what parenting is all about.. once you become a parent, there is never a time in your life again that you can be selfish… whatever you do, it’s for you and your kids…. but that’s another blog isn’t it? 🙂