top of page

When is Enough Truly Enough in Marriage?



Several weeks ago, I had a heartfelt conversation with a friend who is currently addressing challenges in her marriage. They chose to separate rather than rush into a divorce, hoping to work through their issues gradually. Not long after, one of my mentees confided in me about her decision to divorce, a mere few months into what should have been a blossoming marriage. These cases are not unique; they reflect a common topic in my discussions with relatives, including daughters, sons, nieces, and nephews. These conversations reveal a growing ambivalence towards and uncertainty about the value of marriage. What was once considered a sacred institution is now seemingly losing its charm and importance.

 

An unexpected advocate for marriage

I believe that marriage is a valuable institution and more than a commitment. As a child, I did not aspire to marry, and those familiar with my younger self would concur. Those who knew me then are often surprised at my long-standing commitment to this union.  Some even jest that if I could embrace marriage and thrive within it, then truly, anyone can. My journey into marriage has unexpectedly grounded me, providing a much-needed structure amidst the fluidity of my professional life.

 

Marriage has offered me a stable base, a haven to return to from the whirlwind of international consultancy. The comfort of home, after extended periods in impersonal hotel rooms, cannot be understated. Before the global shift brought on by COVID-19, my routine involved fleeting weekend visits home between assignments. Marriage offered me an anchor for my nomadic life.

Without this home base, I imagine I would have continued my travels incessantly, moving from one country to the next without pause. This would have undoubtedly disrupted not just my life but also the lives of my children, affecting their own routines and stability.

 

This personal experience underscores the transformative potential of marriage, beyond the conventional notions of companionship. It highlights the profound impact of having a place and a person to come back to, underscoring the importance of stability and routine in a world that is increasingly transient.

 

The age-old question of marriage

Well, now that I have shared my personal journey, let us look into the concept of marriage as a time-tested institution. To marry or not to marry? This timeless dilemma continues to provoke discussion and deep reflection. Does marriage represent an obligatory milestone, a rite of passage that one is expected to undergo after one completes their education and steps into early adulthood? The pressure to marry is often more intense for women, partly influenced by the relentless ticking of the biological clock. This pressure comes not only from personal aspirations but also from the expectations set by family and friends. The idea that marriage is the next logical step is ingrained in many cultures, yet it is a decision that requires careful consideration beyond mere tradition or external pressures.

 

Across various cultures, marriage is celebrated not just as a personal union but as a communal milestone. However, this celebration often comes with an unspoken assumption that marriage is a logical phase in life's journey, overshadowing the individual's personal choice or readiness for such a commitment. This cultural narrative can mask the fact that marriage, at its core, should be a deliberate choice made by two individuals, rather than a compulsory step dictated by age, societal status, or cultural expectations.

 

In today’s society, the perception of marriage is changing. While it remains a valued institution for many, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of personal agency in the decision to marry. Current conversations about marriage cover not only the romantic and family aspects but also issues related to personal development, career aspirations, and individual fulfillment. The path towards or away from marriage is as diverse as the individuals considering this important life decision. That topic will be the subject of another article. For now, our focus shifts to the question of whether to divorce or not to divorce.

 

Marriage beyond the fairy tale

Entering into marriage often comes with expectations of perpetual joy and harmony, reminiscent of the endings in fairy tales. Yet, the journey through marital life is far more complex and varied. It is a path that differs significantly from couple to couple, challenging the notion of a one-size-fits-all marital bliss.

 

Reflecting on premarital counselling sessions I attended – not my own, but those of friends – one particular piece of advice from a Bishop stands out. This advice seemed odd at the time: opt for twin beds rather than a double bed. His reasoning was that, in times of disagreement, the ability to physically separate the beds could serve as a metaphor for maintaining individual space to resolve conflicts. He cautioned against sleeping in separate rooms, as he believed this could exacerbate the distance between partners. Initially, I found this very amusing, but with the passage of time and the wisdom that comes with it, I have come to appreciate the underlying message. No relationship is without its flaws, and sustaining a healthy marriage requires continuous effort, commitment, and the resilience to weather both the highs and lows together.

 

The adage that "Marriage is not a bed of roses" aptly captures the essence of marital life. For some, marriage begins as a blissful journey, akin to a bed of roses, only to encounter thorns as time progresses. Others may find that the beauty and fragrance of the roses overshadow any lurking thorns, maintaining a balance of joy and adversity. There are those for whom the thorns seem more prominent, causing discomfort and pain, while some perceive their marriage as entirely a bed of thorns, fraught with difficulties at every turn.

 

In every scenario, the metaphor of roses and thorns serves as a reminder that marriage encompasses a spectrum of experiences. It is an institution that, while offering moments of profound joy and companionship, also involves challenges. These shifts can occur for myriad reasons, from the everyday stresses of life to more profound issues of compatibility or communication.



 

To divorce or not to divorce? 

In the journey of marriage, as in other areas of life, each person holds their own views and possesses varying thresholds of endurance. Take Alice, for example, who chose to leave her marriage at the first sign of trouble. A single thorn wounded her so deeply, causing significant pain and leaving a lasting scar that she resolved never to return to what she once perceived as a garden of roses.

 

Lyz, on the other hand, frequently found herself nicked and scratched by thorns. Although these encounters caused her discomfort, they were not enough to deter her from her marital path. She persevered, accepting the occasional wound as part of the journey.

 

The catalyst for this discussion is the story of my friend, who faced her share of thorns with her partner. Together, they committed time to remove these obstacles, exploring methods to make their marriage journey smoother, such as through counselling and self-reflection. It is important to remember that a rose inherently has thorns; the aim is to find a way to coexist with them or to map out a less painful path.

 

Esther's experience paints a picture of resilience, bearing scars and bandages from numerous thorny encounters, some severe enough to necessitate medical attention. Despite the pain, she presses on, motivated by the welfare of her children.

 

Betty's situation echoes Esther's, as she too walks a path lined with thorns. She endures the brambles of her marriage largely out of necessity. Without a job or independent income, she relies entirely on her husband and feels she has no alternative but to continue.

 

Prossy's situation is particularly striking. She is surrounded by a garden is overrun with thorns that inflict visible, severe wounds. She appears unaffected by the dense thicket of challenges that would typically halt others in their tracks. Observers are left bewildered by her ability to move forward, seemingly oblivious to the pain.

 

My mentee's philosophy takes a distinct path from conventional wisdom. Confronted with the emerging challenges in her fledgling marriage, she holds a firm belief that attempting to mend what is broken, especially on an emotional level, can sometimes cause more harm than good. This perspective led her to the decision to step away from her marriage. She argues that in certain situations, efforts to repair emotional rifts can inadvertently deepen the wounds, leading to greater pain for both parties involved. Thus, in her view, when the emotional fabric of a relationship is torn, the kindest and most pragmatic action might be to part ways, preventing further emotional distress. This approach underscores a broader philosophy of self-preservation and emotional health, prioritising individual well-being over the societal expectation to 'fix' a marriage at all costs.

 

Concluding reflections at NITE TANZARN IntellectNest

How does one manage a marriage that has its share of thorns? When do you draw the line? When is it time to say enough is enough? When do the thorns become too much to bear? Should you tally the thorns until they become too numerous to count? Is a single thorn, whether blunt or sharp, sufficient to reconsider the union? Does the severity of the thorns come into play? Should you exit the marriage at the first sign of trouble, or is it better to seek professional guidance? Perhaps a temporary separation while attempting to address the issues is a viable option.

 

The approach to these challenges is deeply personal. Some cannot tolerate even the slightest prick, while others endure multiple wounds for the sake of their children. Some may have a higher threshold for pain, not feeling the thorns as acutely. There are those who accept the thorns as part of life, while others hold the institution of marriage in high regard, despite its flaws. Then there are those who remain out of fear of societal judgement.

 

Marriage is a dynamic journey, filled with its own set of challenges and rewards. It is a partnership that evolves over time, shaped by shared experiences, trials, and triumphs.  The key to managing challenges lies not in avoiding them but in facing them together, with open communication, understanding, and a willingness to adapt and grow. Couples may find that seeking external support, such as counselling, can provide them with the tools and perspective needed to address and overcome their difficulties. In essence, the journey of marriage is about collaboration, resilience, and growth, as partners navigate their shared path, learning and adapting along the way.

205 views37 comments

37 Comments


Beautiful piece. Marriage is beautiful if both are willing to make it work. Some examples of those with less thorns would have made it better.

Like
Replying to

Hi Tasha

Thank you for your kind words and valuable feedback. I agree, marriage can indeed be beautiful when both partners are committed to making it work. Reflecting on your suggestion, incorporating examples of marriages with fewer challenges could provide a more balanced view and offer hope and inspiration to many. I appreciate your insight and will certainly consider this perspective in future posts.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

Like

Guest
Feb 03

The thorns in my marriage are very prickly and I have walked away, in my mind, several times. I do not have the physical courage to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Like
Replying to

It sounds like you're facing a challenging situation. The courage to make significant changes often starts in the mind before it manifests physically. Seeking support from trusted friends, family, or professionals can provide strength and perspective during such times. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and finding a path to peace and happiness is important.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

Like

Guest
Feb 03

At what point should one draw the line? I have just barely been existing in my marriage for close to 20 years now.

Like
Replying to

Deciding when to draw the line in a marriage is deeply personal and often complex. It might be helpful to consider seeking professional guidance or counseling to explore your feelings and options. Remember, prioritizing your well-being and happiness is crucial. Reflecting on what you truly need and want from life can provide clarity.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

Like

Guest
Feb 03

Great piece and well-written. Coincidentally, I am reading this article on the Silver Jubilee of my marriage. It has been 25 years since we embarked on this journey filled with many roses but also thorns. Thank you Nite. Betty

Like
Replying to

Congratulations on your Silver Jubilee, Betty! It's truly commendable to navigate the complex journey of marriage for 25 years, embracing both its joys and challenges. Your experience is a testament to the resilience and commitment that underpin long-lasting relationships. Thank you for sharing this significant milestone with us, and may you continue to find strength and happiness in your partnership. Cheers to many more years filled with both roses and valuable lessons from the thorns.

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

Like

Guest
Feb 02

As far as marriage goes, I believe that, all parties in the marriage must want it to work. That is when bliss is achieved. I know many people are in marriages for the children. I believe enough be ames enough when there is perpetual physical amd emotional abuse because it can lead to death.

Like
Replying to

Thank you for sharing your insights. It's indeed crucial for both partners to be fully committed to the relationship for it to thrive. The point you raise about staying in a marriage for the sake of children is a common scenario, yet it's the well-being and safety of all involved that must take precedence. Situations involving continuous harm, be it physical or emotional, certainly call for serious reflection and action, prioritizing personal health and safety.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

Like
bottom of page