Eugenia, twenty-three years old, is a pretty and confident lady from a secure and well-to-do family. Her family doted on her since she was an only child – and she grew up with the idea that the world was her oyster. She then met Laud, twenty-six and just out of his degree course in Business Administration, on a beach in Accra, Ghana. Eugenia had just graduated from college and her parents gave her the trip as a graduation present; Laud had just passed his exams and used a chunk of his savings to treat himself to a “congratulations” gift. One look at each other, Eugenia and Laud fell in love. The chemistry was terrific. They both felt on top of the world now that they had gotten through school, and pleasant evening breezes didn’t hurt either. Only a few days into their romance, Eugenia decided Laud was the one. He was handsome, hardworking, and had all the right credential. He was right out of her girlhood picture of the perfect match. Laud was obviously taken with Eugenia too, when they discovered they both had plans to move to Miami and the idea hit them both simultaneously: they were so much in love, why not live together?
That’s exactly what they did. Only Eugenia had a not-so-hidden agenda. From the first week of living together, she began to apply pressure, her parents were not pleased that she was living with a man and were badgering her to get married. Laud was just starting to open a small firm and wouldn’t it help his career to have a wife. What Eugenia managed to do was maneuver Laud into marriage – not that he might not have come to want it on his own, but Eugenia, Laud later realized, was doing the pushing. Laud, who has visited consultant, began to realize what was going on, is now able to see Eugenia’s motivations more clearly: “Once we got married,” he said, “Eugenia began the same pressure techniques about moving out of Miami… I tried to explain that I wasn’t making enough money yet to buy a house, I’d only just started my small firm. But it was like she didn’t hear me and listened to me about anything. All that was at pleasure for her was fulfilling her own agendas and fantasies about what she wanted out of the marriage. She had married the marriage, she hadn’t married me.”
Eugenia was trying to force Laud into her own dream without consulting him. Eugenia and Laud face some difficult days ahead: she has to awaken to the fact that marriage means a commitment to an actual person, not an idea, and he has to face the possibility that once she does finally see him, they may each have second thoughts about their relationship. There’s also no guarantee that Eugenia will wake up to Laud’s reality; if she doesn’t Laud will have to decide whether he wants to continue in the marriage.
The problem Laud and Eugenia illustrate is very common. One very common and painful trap that many men and women fall into when they get married is that they marry the idea of marriage; they don’t really marry a human being at all. Or they may marry the life-style certain marriages make possible, with no real though to the person attached to it. Some partners are really attracted to life-styles, not to other people. Someone’s wealth, prestige, connections, family – there are a number of lures we may fall for other than actual man or woman. People married to this kind of fantasy aren’t really married at all; they have simply bought into an idea of marriage without any sense that there is a fallible human being attached. Waking up and realizing that you are in a myth, not a marriage can be painful: it means giving up some simplistic ideas about what you thought marriage meant, and it may mean having to get to know the man you have married and vice versa for the first time – maybe years after you said “I do”.
The value of looking at love in marriage isn’t about material possession; it goes down to sharing both bad and good times. Proverbs 31:10 says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth more than rubies”. Both partners in serious relationship (marriage) look out for marrying human being and not ideas in marriage. You can’t only get happiness from the ideas in marriage, but happiness comes from marrying the human being. A lot of people whine of not finding happiness in their relationship. Have you asked yourself the root of this entire whine? It may be that you demand too much from your partner or doesn’t support him/her spiritually, physically, morally, and affectionately.
Marriage was a surefire for partners to know they had had enough to eat, shelter over their heads and financial support to raise children. But deeper than that, marriage played a significant psychological role for the couples: It defined couples sense of self in a way noting else could. This is because marriage meant a “complete” life; the very act of being married provided a genuinely fulfilling, validating and psychologically rewarding experience for most couples.
The value of looking at Eugenia’s predicament isn’t in judging her inability to see and accept her husband and her life for what they really are. It’s in allowing her story to nudge us into recognizing ways we may be similarly trapping ourselves into falsehood marriages. You can’t get out of a trap until you see how it works. That’s the point, so choose a good partner who marries a human being and not the idea of marrying.