Monday, March 03, 2014

Choosing the life partner

I refer to the letter Marital partner choice - parents vs kids” by Depressed Father of Kuala Lumpur (Star, 26 February). As a father I sympathize with the writer for the sorrowful state he is in. Reading his touching letter reminds me of what a dejected elderly man in an old folk's home told me recently, "Life is a journey that must be traveled all alone, if you have company it is a bonus".
This is a hard and sad fact of life that parents of today like Depressed Father and many others like him must accept and be prepared. The writer may get some comfort to know that he is not alone in this predicament where his daughter he loved most dumped him and all his good intentions and deeds done with great love solely for her future well-being. 
A friend of mine related a shocking incident when one morning at the breakfast table his 36year old son introduced his girlfriend who spent the night with him in the house without his knowledge. The father was shocked and angry but didn’t say anything to the son fearing it may start a quarrel with the son if he did. What can the father do than to just swallow his pride?
Another friend had a daughter who after passing out as professional fell in love with a drug addict who did not have a decent job. She was adamant in wanting to marry him. When her father disapproved, she went against his wishes and left the house, the very place where she spent 20 over intimate years with her dad. Despite being deeply hurt by the actions of his daughter he continues to live in hope that she will return home one day. What else can he do?
The next case is about a friend whose daughter fell in love with a married man with a wife and children. When her father objected to the relationship she rebelled against him and was adamant that she will marry that man. The father was heart-broken that his only daughter whom he loved so much can openly defy him and willing do something which was morally and socially not acceptable to him. He continues to pray for the conversion of his daughter. What else can he do?
There is this case of a 26year old woman with a decent job and comes from a decent and respectable family with God-fearing parents. She refuses to get married but stays together with her lover who is a foreigner with uncertain background. Her parents tried all they could but she refuses to listen. All their dreams for his daughter seemed to have been shattered. Her father, like the writer, is totally devastated and became depressed and withdrawn. What can he do?
There are many more such heart-breaking examples and Depressed Father need not feel so depressed after all as he is not alone. We have come a long way as far as choosing our life partner and marriage is concerned. While it may be nice to go back to our old traditions regarding marriage and the choosing of life partners but such traditions have become totally obsolete today. We have come to a state where our daughters are well educated and want to make their own decision regards to their life partner and it is only right we respect their choice. The role parents in deciding who their daughters should marry is slowly being reduced from decision makers to advisors now and soon being just observers whose consent is not needed at all.
All we can do as the elders is to advise them based on our social norms, our morals values, and our own experiences in life. I admit it will be extremely painful if the children especially our daughters reject our advice and choose the wrong partner due to ignorance or any other reason. We fear their lives will be ruined but what else can do other than stand idle and watch?
All parents advise their children on their choice of their life partners. Their advice is based on practical experiences of their own and those close to them who have gone through married life for many years. They would have witnessed many happy and also many miserably failed marriages. They are in a better position to know what conditions would be compatible for lasting marriages and are less likely to break up.  But how many of their children will accept this advice?
With the alarmingly increasing divorce rates in even our most conservative communities, it is time to seriously consider the causes of marriage failures and take steps to keep the family units intact by saving marriages. For this we need the concerted efforts of all parties and sacrifices of those planning to start a family. Love for the spouse is all about mutual sacrifice not just about money, sex and success in life.
Children must be given the freedom to decide on their future but the advice of their parents on the choice of life partners should be seriously considered by them as their advice comes with great love and concern and it is wisdom at its highest level.  

Original article in Star below:

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