I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a case of being for or against the institution of marriage itself, but rather about finding the right partner.

Having just finished reading Committed – a skeptic makes peace with marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the mega best-seller and 2010 movie Eat, Pray, Love), I have come to some conclusions about marriage that I want to share…
In this sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, Liz and her Brazilian lover Felipe face a forced marriage if he is to be allowed to stay in America. Having vowed never to get married again (after their traumatic and tragic divorces), they didn’t bank on the US immigration authorites not sharing the same view.
Homeless and visa-less (on his part), they spend the ensuing months travelling South-East Asia while the wheels of the immigration process slowly turn…
This gives the anxious Liz months to study the institution of marriage and all the research on the topic that she can find. She also undertakes some of her own anthropological research among the cultures she comes across on her travels.
Terrified of losing herself again in the ‘sacrifice’ of marriage, she examines what marriage means among different cultures and what she has to lose – or gain – by marrying again.
As I got into this book, interesting as it was, it wasn’t the ‘evidence’ found in the research matter that made up my mind about what I think of marriage.
The references to the patient Felipe, dragged around Asia while Liz tirelessly made the most of every minute, made me realise something:
Marriage can be hell or it can be heaven: this depends entirely on the two people involved
It’s not a case of being for or against the institution itself, but rather about finding the right partner.
And while the woman’s temperament plays as important a role here, I’m going to focus on the other partner, (we already know ourselves) and tell you, from my experience, what to look for in a partner if you want a long, peaceful and secure marriage…
Felipe’s philosophy is “A woman’s place is in the kitchen – with her feet up!”
A great start to any marriage if you ask me. Not only does that imply that he’s willing to share the household chores, but he’s happy to cook while she sits with a glass of wine and her feet up, just keeping him company.
Other reasons why I believe Liz and Felipe will go the distance:
They respect each other’s need for space
She says in her book that there are women who need weekends away with the girls or a few days to recharge at a spa. While he may not, he completely understands that she does – one less reason for conflict in a marriage.
They agree on the subject of children
In their case, neither wants them: he because he has already raised two and she for her own personal reasons. No pressure here then…
There’s kindness, compassion, and a sense of humour between them
Life does get difficult and you WILL get on each other’s nerves but Liz and Felipe had a secret code betwen them: when things got tense one partner would say “We need to be careful here” – warning both of them not to say anything in the heat of the moment.
Harsh words are often never forgotten and can leave scars that never heal. They were both aware of this.
They both have a sense of adventure (and a sense of humour which is essential to pack when travelling)
Some people are happiest at home and never have the slightest desire to see another country: others have the travel bug for the whole of their lives and would rather kayak down the Amazon than have that new granite kitchen.
That’s cool – as long as you both feel the same way (or you have the money to do both). If not, how you want to spend your hard-earned savings can be the cause of much marital conflict.
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When searching for the perfect man, these are my 10 essential qualities to ensure a peaceful marriage (I’m passing this list on to my daughter when she’s old enough):
1. Kindness
2. A gentle spirit and a love and respect for God
3. Easy-going and slow to anger
4. A true gentleman to everyone he meets – from your mother to the waitress at your local Spur
5. Respect for you as a wife and a person
6. Respect for your need to work, travel, choose your own friends
7. Willingness to share household chores
8. Willingness to be impulsive when the need arises
9. The ability to make you laugh – at life and yourself
10. Passion – for life, work – and YOU
I’ll end with one of my favourite quotes:
“The true test of a man’s character is how he treats his wife when nobody is watching.” (Author unknown)