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The making of a successful marriage

By Nasim Hassan, Delaware, USA

        Human society developed and refined the institution of marriage over time. Although scientific achievements have drastically transformed the world, yet the primordial nature of man and woman  remains unchanged, with instincts of joy, grief, love, hate, jealousy, sex and want, among myriad other innate traits. The people still need stable family environment and friends to share their life experiences.

        As a first generation immigrant, I was always surprised at the divorce rate in the USA. In contrast, the local South Asian community has a lower divorce rate is low, although they are fast catching up also. The unstable and unsuccessful marriage has unfortunately has become a rule rather than an exception in America. The problem is showing up now in the second generation of immigrants who are born and brought up here.  Since not only it greatly impacts the lives of young men and women but can also cause disruption in the lives of their children - the custodians of our future in, it is essential to reflect on ways and means that mat contribute to a happy and stable family.  

Cultural Uniformity
        The first generation immigrants generally marry within their cultural background and most of them have stable marriages. The successful marriages between people of diverse backgrounds require broad vision, maturity and freedom from bias. As the marriages between diverse cultural groups have started to occur in the second generation of immigrants, the divorce rates too have started to rise. For couples who share the same or similar cultural background it is easier to appreciate each other's likes and dislikes. Consider the case of a man who never had a dog as a pet. What in case his spouse wishes to keep a dog because she always had one while growing up? Such cultural disparities may foster problems in marriage.

Role of Religion
        It has been observed that religious people have successful marriages. This refers to both partners. If one of partner is religious and other does not share same ideas, it becomes a difficult relationship. The immigrants are more religious than their counterparts in the native country. The people back home in India, Pakistan and Mid East believe that if a person lives in America then he or she must be modern and liberal in outlook.  A lot of marriages fail because of this particular misconception. The humanity in various parts of the World developed marriage as an institution and religion sanctified the relationship.  The religion provides a code of ethics and standards of behavior that need to be followed.  For example, the religious edict saying, " Thou shall not commit adultery" lays the foundation of
relationship in marriage for both partners.   This factor alone can reduce strain in a relationship as it gives certain level of assurance of commitment to the marriage.   

Recognition of mistakes
        The three miracle words, " I am Sorry " work wonders in marriage.  Simply acknowledging one's mistake can resolve half of the conflicts in marriage. It is the silly ego that often destroys the  peace in many homes. Small misunderstandings can lead to in irreconcilable differences. It is very common to find fault in the spouse to get even rather than to admit one's own mistake and to go on with life. While " I am Sorry " rule is great, to forgive is a divine virtue and is an essential ingredient of a happy and prosperous marriage.

Economic Conditions
        Financial independence does help in ensuring a stable marriage. The financial strains on the other hand can cause greater pressure on the couple. It may, although not always, result in strains on married life. Depending on the outlook and the background of the couples, while some of them enjoy their common struggles in the early years, others may not cope with the lower income level at the start, particularly if they do not watch  their buying habits. The key is to keep the expenses within limits. The temptations are unlimited, with the commercials of new cars, latest gadgets, and unnecessary luxury items. The credit card
Indebtedness may soon make a new marriage dysfunctional.

Support System
        A social support system also ensures a happy and to stable marriages. It is a network of friends and relatives to fall back on if the couple is unable to resolve the problem.  An early positive intervention by a kind relative or friend can save a lot of trouble.. By discussing the problem alone can put it in a proper perspective.  In North America, there is a great emphasis on individual growth and independence.  This factor alone prohibits sharing of concerns and aspirations with friends.  In the Eastern society, the extended family and friends provide a network that keeps marriages on track.  The lack
of this support system has started to appear in the second generation of immigrants.  The Americans can at least go to a psychiatrist to identify the problems. The immigrants do not do that; they abhor to seek in any kind of psychological help and face double jeopardy. In South Asian communities, parents, brothers and sisters can play very positive powerful role. But they must respect the privacy of the couple and listen to them in an unbiased way and avoid taking sides.  

American Work Environments
        The working environments in the USA are very different, compared to anywhere else in the World. The non- stop restructuring, new technologies have a great impact on the society.  In order to keep up with the changes, people have to move in search of jobs. The neighborhoods get transformed in a matter of years.  When the couples move, they get away from friends, relatives and familiar environments. The American born people are perhaps used to this kind of life.  Most of the Americans quickly get settled in new environments, make new friends and never look back. This is not so easy for our younger people. Going away from their families and friends at times invariably results in loss of the family and social support system.  The big dilemma is now how to reconcile the demands of career with the needs of a stable marriage.  A simple advice for people on the move is to develop new friendships, while maintaining old relationships.  It is not difficult, thanks to Internet, instant message system, and cellular communications. While it facilitates maintaining an ongoing communication with parents, other family members  and  friends, it helps in finding new friends in your area.  

        In a new place, telephone directory can be very useful to discover people of similar culture and background and to locate places of worship and community center. Just as other communities register with their churches and synagogues, our young people can gain from becoming members of the local Islamic Centers and Associations. Not only does this help in fostering a happy and successful marriage but it also helps in providing a socio-cultural and religious environment so essential for children.







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