I work with an international clientele and it is imperative I consider a person’s culture. I just can’t plop American values or standards onto whoever happens to contact me, it would be disastrous. One area where differences really show up is when the consult concerns a marriage.
Marriage means different things to different people. To some marriage is a sacrament, to be taken seriously. For others it’s pretty trivial. The phrase “starter marriage” has recently been coined to describe marriages that take place in a person’s 20’s that are not necessarily meant to last. In our culture, a marriage may be conducted as an experiment where in another culture leaving your marriage will get you shunned, shamed or worse.
In many cultures it’s not really feasible to divorce and if I am talking to someone in this circumstance, even if the marriage is very, very bad, it does them no good at all to suggest they do what the typical American woman would – leave the bastard!
Now I am not the sort to assume my way or my beliefs are better than another person’s. In short, I have an open mind so after years of talking to women who have fewer options when they are dissatisfied with their marriage, I have had a lot of time to think this through.
At one extreme there are people who divorce at the drop of a hat. They throw partners away like trash at the first sign of trouble which eventually catches up to them in a very painful way.
On the other extreme, there are women who can’t divorce and when I look at this group, it occurs to me that some in the first group would have fared better over time, if it had not been so easy to leave.
In other words, the next partner is not necessarily better and the person themselves might have been the one at fault for the problems in marriage which is something they may have figured out if there were pressure from somewhere to stay put and try to work the things out. As you get into your 30’s and 40’s, 50’s and beyond it gets a lot harder to partner and because of this, people start to look back and realize that what they had with “X” was not that bad after all. I am sorry but this is a very common story.
I was talking to satori about all this, explaining I just can’t tell a woman who has been beaten by her husband to leave him when she can’t leave him. That would be pretty stupid advice and in the process I thought about my own standard.
I take my vow of marriage very seriously. I meant it when I said, “until death do we part” but I made this commitment, FREELY. I chose to make the commitment as did my husband and we were both emotionally and intellectually equipped to make the choice. This means, I can’t get out but I feel okay about it because I volunteered. I also feel this is a pretty good middle ground between the two extremes.
How do you view marriage? Does culture or religion impact your views? Do your views serve you?