Thursday, July 31, 2003


Quick entry before I take off back to Seoul... A little more than half my close friends are married now. As I wrote before, this was the tenth time I've been a groomsmen and I've been an usher at least another ten. I've gone through the first wave (22-25 yrs. old), second wave (27-30 yrs. old), and beginning the third wave (32-35 yrs. old) of marriages among my friends. So I've been involved in many discussions about their married life and all the joys and pains that come along with it.

Digressing a little, some of my friend's spouses I could care for less. For this unfortunate minority, fate, chance, or whatever you would want to label it gave them a bad apple. The type that rots and spreads to the apples around them. These friends slowly become worse in character and/or personality. Naturally, my friendship suffers because of this and we become more distant over the years. I just accept the situation and move on because a person wouldn't expect or ask a friend to choose their husband or wife over himself. Quite silly if a person would even think this. If they do they're probably on crack.

On the other end, you have friend's spouses that you love. You see them make your friend a better person, happier, or just a great complement to them. Life is great for them... until you talk about the in-laws. Not all, but for some friends this is a difficult subject matter. Sometimes the other spouse does not know the degree of frustration, anger, or pain the husband or wife goes through with the in-laws. Sometimes they are bonded by the common view and sufferings.

This is where the emphasis on the importance of family background comes on shallow ground. Especially in Asian families, being from the "right" family or socio-economic background is greatly emphasized in a potential spouse. From this notion, it is assumed they are already at another level of proper manners, principles, and character. Of course these are generalizations that are hoped for. This might be true to some extent, or a person is given a head start with such upbringing but it is far from guaranteed. There are some that focus less on the socio-economic factors and more so on the parents and what type of people they are. This too is far from being a good indicator of your future spouse.

The focus should be on the person whom you fall in love with and whether you have enough information and experiences to decided whether you want to commit to that person for life. I bring this up because the flipside of the prior paragraph is the reality that some of those friend's spouses that I love have the most difficult parents and in some cases psychotic parents. Sometimes you don't really know until after you're married. Many times you don't really spend that much time getting to know the in-laws until after the marriage, so the controlling tendencies, extreme mood swings, poor listening skills, inability to apologize, and other negative behaviors and characteristics aren't manifested until months or years later. Of course this is not just in-laws but situations involving a person's own parents.

One close friend recently went through a difficult period of not speaking with his in-laws for almost a year because his father-in-law became so overbearing in their marriage. Demanding a certain amount of time with them and would get upset if they had to cancel plans due to work or for other legitimate reasons. Obviously his wife also was in agreement with my friend and just wanted to cut off communications for awhile. She had some issues and difficulties with her father's controlling nature growing up, but it seemed to be augmented during their marriage. Another friend had difficulties with an extremely insensitive and materialistic mother-in-law. Her behavior upset his wife so much I became disgusted with the mere sight of her. My childhood friend admits that if his parents were in the same city same him and his wife it would be a huge source of stress and misery.

Looking at these cases, I almost want to say that a person's parents are no indication or reflection of a potential spouse. Of course this is not true. As with much of life, there are bits and pieces from various areas that make up the whole, but you really shouldn't examine the parents if you're in the stage of testing the waters but focus on who he/she is and what stirs inside his/her heart and soul.

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