Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Commitment, Love and Marriage

Sadly for many, these do not seem to go together or at least stay together. All too often its only 2 out of three sometimes only one.

Anita and I were lucky that first we loved each other and second got married because we wished to make known that "love and commitment to each other" to all our friends and family. For us marriage was something about putting a name to that commitment and making it a clear statement to all who knew us.

In the early days of us being together it was challenging for us to be together, us living in Finland and me being Australian. She suggested we get married back in about 2006 so that we could be more easily together. I wanted us to be married for all the right reasons, not the reasons of State and Boundaries.

So I began taking steps which would allow me to remain in Finland on my own rights without needing my residency to be based on being married to a Finnish National. I felt that was the best thing to do because:
  • it erased all doubt as to why we were getting married
  • it gave our friends and families time to grasp that we were actually comitted to each other
  • it allowed us to simply be ourselves and not worry about any external forces (like being a foreign national and being able to reside)
When we decided to get married, our wedding was was something which was enjoyed by everyone who came.

I do not think that I could have imagined a more perfect event. Anita was so filled with joy and anticipation, it was clear on her face in every picture (such as this one of her father bringing her to me).

At the reception she (and well everyone) was simply happy and celebrating, filled with the anticipation of our future together and confident that it would be on the whole happy.

Everything from my friends visting from Australia for the wedding through to the interactions of the families just went well. All the pictures we have of the wedding showed happy smiling people. The weather was just what we wanted (-20°C) with puffy powder snow everywhere (this way her dress would not get dirty or wet and it would be a proper Finnish white wedding). You just couldn't ask for a better day.

Why get married? Its about promises and integrity.

For us the reason to get married is to make a clear and public announcement of love and promise of intent to be commitment to each other. We wanted to make it clear that we were committed to each other, that we had not only love for each other, but a willingness to make our lives work together.

Integrity is about:
  • consistency of actions,
  • values,
  • principles,
  • expectations.
I regard integrity as the honesty and truthfulness behind actions. Making promises in public (in front of everyone who makes up your life) makes that promise clear and unambiguous to everyone who matters to us, rather than leaving it as something implied or assumed.

Perhaps its lost on many modern / city / social media humans, but once upon a time people had ethics. A promise meant something. A promise was not just words, but the words were both the meaning and the bond to fulfill that promise.

The mark of a man (and by this man I mean human, not male or female as it is so commonly taken to mean in English) is their ability to stand up to their word. A promise is a promise, it is not like the worms of law where lawyers do battle over contracts and what someone is or is not bound to do.

My bond, my promise is not about law, but it is about honour. Shallow and hollow people make promises and fail to keep them, for they have no commitment to anyone,  themselves either.

Anita and I did not like 'pomp an circumstance' (me being an Australian Australian and her being a Finn) so we didn't feel like doing the "tired traditional wedding vows" which mean very little to many and equally little to us. Eventually (either Anita or I, I can't be sure) we stumbled upon this set of vows, which at first glance looks like it is flippant and trivial, but if you read the words carefully (as we did) the meaning suited us perfectly.

Minister: Will you take her as your wife? Will you love her all your life?
me: Yes, I take her as my wife, and love her all my life.

Minister: Will you have, and also hold Just as you have at this time told?

me:  Yes, I will have, and I will hold,
        Just as I have at this time told,
        Yes, I will love her all my life
        As I now take her as my wife.

The essential components of this are that I promised to love her all my life. Simple isn't it. No extra clauses to get interpreted, no get out of it clauses ... my promise was and still is to simply: to love her all my life

That was my promise then and it remains my commitment right now.

Being a man of integrity I will honour that commitment for as long as I live. I will love Anita all my life. After all it isn't hard to love her.

What is hard is not having her by my side.

Life is full of the unexpected. Certainly when we were married the thought of either of us dying was distant. In fact we had discussed aging together and ways to deal with the disparity in ages between us (I being older).

In our minds it would clearly be me who died first leaving Anita alone. It was my fervent wish that Anita not be left alone and uncared for after my passing.

The thought of her being left bereft, abandoned and desolate was (and is) simply painful to me.

I had plans and stratergies for this which I had great confidence in. I was sure in my heart that when she passed away she would be be surrounded up till that point by people who loved and cared for her. She would not be abandoned and would be supported up to the last moments of her life.

Strangely this is exactly what happened, altough not in any way as I had hoped.

So with my wedding anniversary looming tomorrow I just wanted to share something of the lessons I learned in my love of my wife, for those who are getting married and those who may be already married.

Love every day, love your partner every day, settle your fights and work towards being happy together.

cos you never know what will get in the way.


Charles Maclauchlan said...

I like your post, Chris. The first picture of Anita is just incredible. (the one with you in it ain't bad either ;-)
I'm not ure about the numbers, or the "trend lines" but it does certainly seem that the institution of marriage needs some help. Quite often here what passes for "liberal thought" isn't that at all but rather just an excuse for bad behavior. Oh well a topic for another day. I can tell you this though, in the 45 years Paulette and I have been together there's been one occasion, and perhaps 2 where she would have packed it in and left if not for that initial commitment. So, it does matter. Quite a bit actually, at least to me.

On the eave of your wedding anniversary I wish you peace.

Noons said...

Commitment and ethics means a lot to me. I grew up in a society where a handshake is considered the highest form of contractual commitment for any business or social deal: it's simply sacred, period, end of story.
It was a shock for me for quite a while to discover that other societies don't share that. But I got used to it.
What still rattles me is the lack of commitment I see in many marriages, where the kids end up being the ones who pay for it. When I and Isa decided to have kids, we did so in full knowledge and commitment that none of us would ever leave - other than force majeure - while the kids were growing.
I am continually surprised at how many examples I've seen along the years of folks who simply ignored such vows, separated, and to hell with the kids! It just doesn't grok in my brain to do that. Call it ethics, responsibility, commitment, whatever!
One of the things that surprised me a lot in your relationship with Anita was to also see that sort of commitment happening. Celebrate your anniversary in peace, mate.