Reconsidering love: a multifaceted approach to marriage

Over the years, I’ve fervently professed my love to my wife of 18 years, believing her to be the most beautiful soul in my life and our bond unbreakable. While this holds true, recent experiences have prompted me to reconsider the notion that love alone sustains a marriage.

This reflection stemmed from a couple we encountered in Upstate New York years ago. Obi (not his real name) and his wife seemed inseparable, embodying the perfect union reminiscent of high school sweethearts. Yet, barely two months later, he confided in their separation, leading to divorce. Their seemingly unbreakable love succumbed to insurmountable differences.

Witnessing Obi, a Nigerian chemical engineer, and his wife Nadia, a Puerto Rican ICU nurse, navigate significant cultural tensions further challenged my belief that “love conquers all.” It led me to contemplate the dynamics of successful marriages and question the prevailing narrative.

In contrast to today’s emphasis on love above all else, my ancestors in Africa viewed marriage differently. Love often emerged later, if at all, while considerations like family lineage, societal standing, and work ethic played pivotal roles. While selecting a life partner based on these seemingly outdated criteria may raise eyebrows, a closer examination reveals the wisdom embedded within.

Today’s societal norms often guide us to prioritize love above all else. The prevalent narrative implies that enduring love will see couples through challenges like financial troubles and incompatibility. This narrative is further reinforced by some individuals clinging to the fairytale notion of marrying their first love.

However, enduring marriages involve more than just love. Love, like any living entity, requires constant nourishment to thrive. This is underscored by the 40 to 50 percent divorce rate in the United States, highlighting the need to consider factors beyond love. In Africa, where divorce rates vary widely across countries, cultural norms and societal attitudes also contribute to the complexities of marital relationships.

Financial strain significantly contributes to marital discord, often pushing love aside as couples prioritize financial stability. While love’s transformative power enables acceptance of certain differences, fulfilling basic needs, a significant portion of which involves financial stability, plays a crucial role.

Couples grappling with financial instability experience stress, challenging even the most resilient bonds of love. Open conversations about financial goals become essential for navigating these challenges successfully. Moreover, financial stability significantly influences a family’s overall well-being, impacting educational opportunities, health care access, and the ability to provide a nurturing environment for children.

Recognizing the importance of financial considerations in marriage isn’t an indictment of the institution’s sanctity but a pragmatic acknowledgment of its multifaceted nature. Couples who collaboratively address finances, communicate effectively, and make informed decisions tend to navigate the complexities of married life more successfully, revealing the intricate interplay between love and financial stability in a lasting marriage.

Choosing a life partner involves a delicate dance of compatibility, shared values, and an unwavering commitment to growth together. It requires looking beyond the surface to find someone whose heart resonates with your soul, a companion for life’s beautiful journey. A successful marriage goes beyond merely sharing a bed; it involves sharing dreams, challenges, and celebrating each other’s victories as if they were one’s own.

In the pursuit of a life partner, seek someone who brings out the best in you, a person you can’t imagine living without. The journey is richer when shared with the right person, someone who adds value, joy, and makes the adventure worthwhile. In navigating the complexities of choosing a life partner, finding someone who sees beauty in scars and potential in flaws becomes essential.

Ultimately, the best life partner isn’t solely the one who professes the most love but the one who aids in personal growth, helping each other become the best versions of themselves. In reconsidering the significance of love in marriage, it becomes evident that successful unions require a multifaceted approach that encompasses financial stability, understanding, compatibility, shared values, and an enduring commitment to nurture the love that binds two individuals on their journey together.

Couples value not only love but also seek continual support and encouragement. My wife and I have both transformed into each other’s cheerleaders and confidants, understanding that flourishing marriages demand more than just love – they require mutual effort through life’s ups and downs, navigating its complexities together. The notion that love conquers all troubles is the most significant myth of matrimony.

Osmund Agbo is a pulmonary physician.

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