I WAS attending a wedding overseas, and everyone was smiling when the priest was saying how much work went into keeping a good marriage together.
However, we all stopped smiling when he warned, “As many as half the couples who have tied the knot in the United States, end up in divorce, so let’s hope the both of you are going to stick it out through thick and thin and really make it as a couple, right into old age!”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise at his ill-timed comments on this special day, but it spurred me to do some research on these disturbing statistics.
I wondered if it was just a figure of speech, but as it turns out, he was spot on.
Researchers estimate that 40% to 50% of all first marriages in the US will end in divorce, with divorce rates rising even higher on subsequent marriages (Source: American Psychological Association).
Closer to home, Malaysian statistics are just as alarming.
The number of Muslim couples getting divorced have risen in the last decade from less than 21,000 in 2004 to almost 50,000 by 2013 (Source: Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia).
In fact, there was an article in the local English daily a few years ago stating that there was a divorce happening every 10 minutes in the country.
Undoubtedly, there are a whole host of factors that contribute to marriages ending in a divorce, from commitment issues to infidelity, financial stresses, incompatibility, cultural differences and so forth.
However, for the couples that do remain together, it does not necessarily mean they are happily married either.
Some stay in it for their kids, because they feel financially dependent on their partners, or there’s a sense that it’s “expected” of them by society or their cultural background.
A lot of the reading I was doing on the subject seemed to suggest that some couples should never have gotten married in the first place, but they ignored all the “warning signs”.
This was as simple as not paying attention to the gut feeling or that little voice in your head when you are about to do something you do not want to do.
I was recently speaking to a friend who made the fatal mistake of not paying attention to her gut instincts from the moment she said “I do”.
She had this heavy feeling in her chest and a subtle sense of pressure, which was the first telltale sign that she was making the wrong decision.
Her parents were in full support of the union and filled with pride that she was marrying so “well” because her future husband came from such a wealthy background.
She ended up making excuses and convincing herself that she was doing the right thing.
But she could not shake off the feeling that someone else was already in his life; she brushed it off anyway.
Sometimes, your gut instincts and how you feel deep down can be the most important antenna in your life when it comes to making major life decisions.
It boils down to whether or not something feels “right”.
When you make decisions that feel right for you, then you would not feel heavy.
After ignoring the warning bells in her head and certain incidents that gave away subtle hints that he might be seeing someone else, she got married anyway.
Her rationale at the time was that the wedding preparations were already under way so she felt she would be letting him and his family down if she did not go through with it.
Her parents were also very supportive of the match, which added to the pressure of proceeding with the wedding.
Two years later, their turbulent marriage ended in divorce after she discovered he was having an affair all along.
Looking back, she wished she had paid attention to her gut feelings from the start.
It takes courage to say “I do” but it takes even more strength to say, “I don’t” to spare yourself from entering into something you might really regret one day.
There are no guarantees in love. It may take mere seconds to start a relationship but years of pain and sorrow to end it, so you better be 100% sure about your decision before you walk down that aisle.
Tying the knot is the easy part when romance is in the air and people are still young and attracted to each other, but growing old together really does require trust and respect and a great deal of understanding and acceptance of the other.
Marriages that can stand the test of time needs both parties to be fully committed and willing to make their relationship work.
Jojo Struys is a regional TV host, wellness author and speaker. She will be conducting a destress workshop at the Murfest Festival at 10.30am today, incorporating breathing techniques and tools to combat stress. Check out murfest.com for details.