LoyarBorak features discussions of selected issues in either written, video, or audio formats.
LoyarBorak goes all romantic in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, as thoughts shift to love, relationships, and marriage. This LoyarBorak is moderated by Marcus van Geyzel, and the Borakkers taking part in this session are Edmund Bon, June Rubis, Lim Ka Ea, and Syahredzan Johan.
Please borak along in the comments section below. If you’d like to be a Borakker, email us at [email protected].
This is the final part of a two-part LoyarBorak. Read Part One here.
Marcus: What do you think of the generally-accepted view that couples should go from being in love, to being in a relationship, to being “engaged” and then getting married?
It is basic human right to be married to a person of your choice.
Progress in a relationship is entirely dependent on the couple and it would be wrong to dictate the steps to take. But I am uncomfortable that culture, religion and society frequently impose the purported need and values of marriage on people. Many people are stuck in unhappy marriages. Many couples live happily without getting married.
Marcus: But how would you choose to be married, if to you, love is an illusion? What would the criteria then be for that choice? The same as how you would choose your friends?
Personally, I don’t believe in the institution and culture of marriage but I won’t knock people who do want to get married (sometimes, however, jokingly). Most, if not all, of what needs to be achieved through marriage may be achieved by not getting married.
I have not heard a reason that is not a selfish one for getting married — children to look after me when I’m old, continue the family name, afraid of the partner leaving the relationship. Much of our lives are dictated by social constructs which are unnecessary.
We came with nothing. We live life as much with something. We leave life with nothing.
Give me better reasons why should one get married?
I think this view puts a lot of people under pressure to follow society’s expectations. It is great if you truly, honestly want it for yourself, but not many people do. As well, there are couples who do want to get married but can’t because society says so!
For example, inter-religious couples who do not want to compromise on their faith, yet are in love and want to get married. Or couples of the same sex. How is that fair?
Perhaps if more people stand up, and are able to say, this is not for me, others will feel more empowered to make their own life choices.
After all, it is your life.
I’m an impulsive sort of person.
I don’t really believe in rules or what people view as “normal” progression of things when it comes to relationships between two human beings. Feeling and thought processes are two extremely complex matters and nothing is ever predictable when it comes to them.
I’m sure you can find couples who get married just after one month of knowing each other and remain married for more than 20 years. You will also find couples who were engaged for two years and then decide to go on their separate ways. There are many couples who are co-habitating and yet they seem to fight less than those who are married.
So, why create rules for something which you can never really predict?
As long as couples strive for an honest and loving relationship, rules shouldn’t matter.
Rules don’t change people. People do.
Well I more or less followed the same route, so I think there’s a nice progression by following them. I think there must be a suitable gap from the starting point (“being in love”) to the “end” point (“marriage”) so that both are comfortable with the progress of the relationship.
I think that is the rationale behind these steps.
Far too many marriages have ended because any or both parties were not ready for the commitment that is expected in a marriage.
In saying that, I do think it sometimes create unnecessary complications. Sometimes, couples can fall in love and get married, without the need for engagement, for example. Yet societal and cultural pressures dictate that it must be done the “orthodox” way. Not for the benefit of the couple but simply because other parties (usually the family) expect it.
Marcus: Why did you and your wife choose that route? Or was it your wife who made the decisions (joke)?
Yeah. It was the wife (just joking, sayang!).
With us, I think very early on in the relationship we had already talked about marriage. It was just a matter of time. For me personally, I wanted to make sure that before I marry, I was in a relatively stable financial position, not least because weddings these days cost a lot of money! We dated for five years before our marriage, so I think even if we hadn’t gone through the whole process, we’d still be happily married, simply because we’ve dated for such a long time before tying the knot.
But we went through the whole merisik, bertunang and bernikah phases (like any “good” Malay couple would) because of tradition and expectations from both sides of the family.
And I don’t think my wife is complaining, since she got a different ring for each phase.
I’m not saying that you need to date for a long time be happy, what I’m saying is that if you want to enter into a long term commitment like marriage, you better make sure you’re ready for it. Whether it takes 5 months, 5 years or 50 years, at the end of the day what is most important is that you have prepared yourself for this life-changing event called marriage.
Marcus: Describe a “romantic relationship” in your ideal world.
Feeling free. Living for the moment in the moment. Being yourself with everyone you are with.
The world will never be ideal and we will all die soon. So live as happily as possible with whoever (or more) you want to be with.
Marcus: So you don’t see a “romantic relationship” as a one-to-one, but rather as a relationship between you and the world around you?
Huh? Where did you get that from? Must be the “true lawyer” talking and reading between the lines.
Just as love, “romance” or what is “romantic” has been misused. It’s really about enjoying as much time and the moment as possible with whoever you are with. It could be one-to-one or not.
It could be a memory that fades away or lingers at the back of your mind.
In an ideal world, a romantic relationship would be with someone who loves and accepts me for the many facets that make up me, and vice versa.
We will challenge each other to be our best, and will be communicative, honest, loyal, and true. We share core beliefs, and are passionate about similar causes. We will stand up for each other in public when am faced under criticism, but in private, will have the integrity to tell the other person how we messed up.
We will strive to be continually conscious in our relationship, living in every moment. Together, we will become more spiritually aware of our connection to the Earth and our community, and work together towards a shared life of meaning and service.
We will also have fun.
Yet, that is in an ideal world, and in reality, life just happens and we have no control over it. Perhaps the next best thing is to be in that ideal relationship with yourself.
Romance is not about sending your loved one 1,000 stalks of red roses or declaring your love in front of millions of people.
It’s about giving up a part of you and offering it to the other person without expecting anything in return. It’s about giving that person his/her happiness despite forfeiting your own and it has to be mutual of course. Otherwise, it’s just shiok sendiri (self-indulgent).
What’s romance without all the painful tribulations faced by the couple and infused with life’s predicament and drama?
In Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage said to Elisabeth Shue, “I am a drunk and I know you’re a hooker. I hope you understand that I’m a person who is totally at ease with this.”
That sums up romance for me but in my ideal world; my love and I would be speaking like Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
I leave these words with you.
“I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”
A relationship in which the only people who matter are those in the relationship.
Free from all racial, religious or societal considerations. Free from pressures placed by family members or the need to keep up appearances.
In my ideal world, the only ones who decide where to take the relationship is the couple themselves.
Edmund is a virgin who believes in free love while tweeting at @edmundbon.
Ka Ea is happy to be in love.
Syah is a self-professed “poyo jiwang” who spends his days listening to The Moffatts and stalking Justin Bieber via @syahredzan. Do not judge him.