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Do you believe in marriage or a live-in relationship?


I think it depends on one's culture and perspective. If one is from a culture where marriage is seen as very important, an essential part of family life, then one would not be able to avoid getting married, otherwise a lot of people would be upset about it and one would feel excluded and rejected. But in the 21st century, where more people are remaining single or living in relationships (like in the UK) than getting married, it seems that an increasing number of people don't care about marrying anymore and prefer to live together and many of these relationships are working.

In the UK living together has risen by 30% over the past decade, while marriage has declined. It is not such a stigma anymore to live together or to have children out of wedlock, so many people now please themselves in the kind of home they have. For a variety of reasons, more people are forsaking marriages, perhaps because of a lack of commitment, or for the freedom it gives to break apart at any time without worrying about the high cost of divorce. Whatever the reason, it seems to be the trend of the future.

Personally, I was married for 33 years and enjoyed it to a great degree. I liked the security it gave, the sharing and companionship, and the feeling of belonging without having to keep wondering where the relationship is heading. I have also enjoyed my freedom since leaving the marriage and would probably not get married again, all things considered. But, a part of me believes that when we love someone, unless we are prepared to show that commitment, whether for one day or 10 years, we should be married, otherwise what is that love really about?

If I met the right person, and he wanted to get married, I would certainly consider it because it would be lovely to pledge myself to someone I want in my life, for however long it lasts. I do not need a marriage certificate to show me that I love my partner, or vice versa, neither do I need to be married to appreciate the relationship. But a marriage also allows friends and family to share in that joyous occasion by declaring our love publicly, and we are all here for each other, not simply to live in a selfish way. The public pledge together gives a very strong message about how we feel for each other and the commitment we have. So I think being married would certainly give the edge for me, though I appreciate that the choice of not being married rests with the individual.

Does a ring really make you feel better?


Q. I worked with a girl at the bank last year who was having some minor problems with her boyfriend who wouldn't propose. Would it really make you feel better to have that ring on your finger telling the world that you are loved and wanted by someone?

A. A ring might help to clarify the position for society at large, for family and friends, but it does not clarify anything for the couple, except to emphasise the commitment between them and focus on the direction.

People live together without marrying for many reasons but the main ones are because they fear commitment or they need the 'perfect' moment to do it which, of course, never seems to come. Yet at the heart of love is commitment: whether for a moment, a day a month or a decade. When we truly love and care about someone, we want to show them how much they mean to us by giving that public display of their value; to show off our prize in a secure way. What is surprising is that people will live for years without getting married, yet the actual togetherness is a form of long term commitment, anyway, which is no different from a marriage. The only thing missing is a ceremony and a ring!

I can understand, especially after all those years, someone seeking to know where they stand in a relationship that just seems to go on and on without any focus or direction. One would find it difficult to really plan anything because one is never sure if one will still be in the same situation a few months or years hence. But a marriage gives that certainty. It says "We are committed for the long haul, even if we fall by the wayside", which then allows the couple to feel more secure with each other.

Personally, I wouldn't live with anyone for more than a couple of years without knowing what the real situation is. If they are afraid of that commitment then they can continue on their way because that does not suggest true love. That suggests pure fear and pleasing themself. It is quite stressful in some instances, and really rather selfish, if one partner doesn't want commitment and the other does. I think when I love someone, I truly love them enough to commit to them, once I see how we are doing. I wouldn't want that kind of anxiety of carrying on and on not knowing where we're heading because the basis of any lack of commitment is simple fear.

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Help! I am afraid of getting married!!


Q. I am about to get married at the end of this year. But I am worried about life after I marry my boyfriend. His bank card has no money, I mean 0! I have to give him my money these two months, because he has no money in his bank or his pocket. He started a business with his brother and I assume that he put all of his money into that business, but i never asked the amount. Should I ask? He is living with his parents, and I think I will have to live with them too after we get married as we don't have enough money to afford a new house. His father likes gambling! This is the biggest thing I am worried about because he has already lost one house through gambling. I love my boyfriend, I think he loves me too. Please give me some advice! Thank you very much!

A. If you are afraid of marriage then DON'T do it! That is your instincts telling you what you should do and when people ignore those instincts they usually have some suffering afterwards. When it comes to relationships, the signs are ALWAYS there at the beginning whether the couple will work or not. It's just that some people tend to ignore those signs because they so desperately want that fairy tale ending, or want a husband/lover/ spouse, that they would ignore anything to get it. But people do show us who they are as early as possible and, if we are taking note, we will actually see the negative signs for ourselves.

This gentleman not having any money is not the problem. That is his life and he has to sort it. The problem is that you are already giving him money and you are not married yet! Any man that you have to give money to at the start of a relationship is a red flag for the future. He is already dependent upon you for some kind of support which will NOT get any better when you are married. In fact, it will get worse because then whatever you have becomes his as well! So you might find yourself mainly working to support him while he find all sorts of reasons and excuses why he has no money.

The most important thing about getting together with someone is that you must feel very happy and comfortable about it. You must feel that both of you are equal in the things that matter, that at least he has a job too, not just you. You are obviously not happy or comfortable with him so please don't get married regardless, because you will live to regret it. Our instincts are our subconscious which knows far more about us than the conscious mind is aware of. Trust those instincts. Do not go against them as they are there to protect you.

By the way, don't judge your boyfriend by his parents, unless you don't mind being judged by your parents. His father liking gambling is nothing to do with him. All you should focus on is your guy and his actions. Don't get caught up in his family issues and burden yourself with irrelevant stuff. Focus on your boyfriend and his readiness to take on responsibilities, and he clearly isn't ready yet. People don't get married when they are still living with parents and don't even have any kind of income. They make a life for themselves first then think about marriage. It sounds as though you two have a lot to discuss to put your mind at ease, if you really love each other. Better to ask all the difficult questions now than after the marriage when it is too late. So write down everything that is bothering you, list the top priority ones then talk to him about them. if you are still in doubt or anxious, leave that one alone. It really wouldn't be worth it.

There is nothing to fear about marriage. It is a glorious time of commitment to the person we love. We only fear it when we burden it with unrealistic expectations and feel deep within us that we are making a mistake or doing the wrong thing. Sounds to me as though your guy could be leaving one home where he is looked after for another convenient one. Is that what you really want?

Time to get out of that relationship which is clearly going nowhere, and is already draining your resources, and find someone who deserves you. Someone once said: "If you settle for less than you deserve, you'll end up getting less than you settled for".

Think about it.

Which is the best age to get married and start a family?


There is no ideal age to get married and start a family, especially in our modern era. Marriage is a long-term commitment and it really depends on whether the two people want to make that commitment too early. The only necessary criteria for deciding to get married are mainly three:

1. Whether the couple are MATURE enough to take on that responsibility, whatever their age. Whether they can deal with the emotional needs which will come into play, especially when children are on the scene, and which will be there for a very long time afterwards.

2. Whether they can afford the responsibility of getting married and looking after themselves independently without being a drain on others or without expecting others to help and the responsibility of looking after the new human beings who will come into their lives.

3. And whether they WANT to settle down early together and have children.

One a person reaches adult age (18), having a family does not depend on the age of the people involved, but whether they can cope with the emotional and practical demands and responsibility that a living as a couple and having a new family bring with it.

I got married when I was 21. With hindsight, I do not think I was really ready for settling down yet as I didn't look at my life in 'forever' terms. My husband wasn't quite ready either as he was in the Air Force and posted abroad. But we were very much in love and wanted to be together. Perhaps if we were more mature we might have done things differently, but one can never dictate life. We had our first child two years later and the good thing about that is our kids grew up with us at the same time so we were closer to them when they were teenagers, as we were still very young ourselves, than if we had had them later on. The marriage lasted 36 years and we still care a lot about each other, so there are no regrets.

There is definitely no ideal age to marry, regardless of what their families might wish for. I guess it is really down to the individuals involved whether they are ready to take the plunge or not. However, it seems that young men, on average, are getting married after they have passed 34 years old and young women after 31, obviously, when they have established a career and set up their future. With the growing independence of women, marriages are not regarded as essential as they used to be, so many people are now deferring getting hitched until they're older.

From Dating to Marriage: Rules for Success


The main rule for success from dating to marriage is: DON'T CHANGE THE RULES!

It is amazing what transformation in a couple the two little words 'MY husband' and 'MY wife' can bring. There they were, getting on fantastically during the dating process, and suddenly they are married and everything changes, then the marriage itself is blamed for what happens next. But what really changes people are three things:

1. The security of having a spouse: People become more comfortable with their dating partners and cease to do the little things which they did on the date to make that person feel wanted and loved. They begin to take the spouse for granted and become complacent in how they treat their partner. Resist the temptation to sink into complacency and security. Always keep the relationship fresh. Reciprocate that person, affirm and value them as though you are still dating and take nothing for granted. Yes, one can feel secure at not having to look for anyone else. But having a wife/husband is not the end of the loving or appreciation process. It is just the beginning.

2. Possessiveness: Just because you might have a wife or husband does not mean you own a human being. You weren't cloned at birth. You are still two independent, feeling, thinking people with your own aspirations, emotions and feelings. Expect to share a lot as a couple, but not everything in your lives. Give each other space for the individuals to continue to develop and you won't feel so claustrophobic or dependent on each other. Furthermore, you will always have something new to experience with each other. Acknowledge and respect the two people in the marriage, the same two who were dating. Nothing has changed from that time except the public commitment you made regarding a private love between you. You can feel proud of your new spouse without crowding them.

3. Taking Vows: Marriage shouldn't change anything between a couple because it is simply a public ritual to confirm a private fact, a public affirmation of the feelings felt by the couple. It shouldn't change the way they act towards each other, in reality. However, the act of marriage seems to affect a lot of people emotionally, especially in perception. They believe they have to change, to become more controlling, possessive or restrictive in their behaviour. Worst of all, expectations of partners begin to become unrealistic. The same expectations during the dating process should be carried over into marriage. Pointless expecting someone to change their behaviour or behave differently once they have tied the knot. The same person you have been dating will remain the same after the vows, and will develop even more into their personalities too. Please remember that important fact and keep those expectations at bay. It will save a lot of disappointment and frustration later on.

The main thing to remember is that whatever worked for you both during the dating stage will work perfectly well during the marriage state, except that you will both feel a little more secure with each other and the love you share will now have the foundation to grow to even greater levels if you both allow it.

How can I become a better husband?


Good question, especially from a guy, as it's women who seem to ask the most questions!

There's no rocket science to being a better husband (or wife/partner). Everyone in this world desires to be significant, appreciated and respected - that's all. If you can make your wife feel all of those three elements, you will be the best husband in the world. It is when we neglect the person because we are already married or settled with them, when we take them for granted because we believe we don't have to woo them anymore, or when we are too busy and neglect their needs that we lose them eventually.

1. The first place to begin is to show your spouse value and appreciation. Do not ever take anything for granted. Tell her each day how much you love her, how much she means to your life and how thankful you are to have her sharing your existence. If you cannot tell her, do at least one thing every day for her that will demonstrate that love and gratitude. NEVER take her presence for granted. Always try to show her how much she is valued and how much she enriches your life. It's not the big things that matter in a good relationship, it's the little things we often don't bother about that are valued the most, like a birthday, a bouquet of flowers, a loving text or just calling from work to say you were thinking of her. Better still, find out what matters to her and try to act upon it.

2. The second most important action is to pay her respect and to trust her implicitly. If you don't trust her, you don't respect her and if you don't respect her you certainly don't love her because respect is at the heart of true love. When we respect our loved ones we are sensitive to their feelings most of all, we care about how are they doing and we care about what they have to say. If you feel she is 'nagging,' if you have no time to listen because you are 'too busy' and if all you care about are your own opinions, there is very little respect in the relationship. Respect should be mutual, it should be given freely and it is always at the core of loving your spouse. Again, if you cannot trust your spouse, there is no real love, only jealousy and suspicion. Trust, like love, is complete and unconditional. If you really feel you cannot trust your partner, then you should not be living together because a relationship is for mutual enhancement not for anxiety and stress.

3. The third aspect to help you become a better husband is to give care and attention whenever you can. Attention is very important to a spouse because that's what makes her feel significant and desired. A lack of attention because their partner doesn't care or is 'too busy' is what leads many spouses to have affairs outside the marriage, to seek that attention they are missing. Make time for your wife. It's the quality of time you spend together that will matter in the end, not the amount of time you both work. Try to give as much care and attention as you can to your partner, it will reap much dividend in the end because she will always feel special.

4. The next important aspect is communication with your spouse. You need to be communicating at all times and LISTENING is the greatest part of any interaction between a couple, not just talking. By listening carefully you can often pick up certain cues which are not deliberately mentioned. One can note fear, anxiety, dread or panic. Never dismiss any fears just because you may not feel the same way. Talk them out and give an alternative, if you have one, but never downplay how someone feels just because you may not share that feeling. Make time at the end of each day to communicate with one another, to find out about that person's day, to make them feel significant by caring about their activities. In this way, the person won't feel neglected and you will also learn a lot about each other in the process.

5. The final step to improve your relationship is to avoid too much control. We live in an age now where women are quite capable of looking after themselves. If there is too much control from their spouses, it is likely to be resented and rejected. When everything is controlled by one partner it makes the other feel useless and the relationship soon becomes claustrophobic because the couple are not given enough space to be themselves. If there is trust and love, there is no need to be controlling because the desire to control is a sign of a lack of trust in others, the feeling that one has to do everything one's self to feel effective or to get things done. That is a huge sign of insecurity and lack of confidence in others.

Valuing your spouse, paying more attention, lessening the control element and communicating and trusting more will definitely make you seem a better husband. If your partner is doing the same things too for you, your relationship should be most enjoyable and fulfillingl!

Why do mothers interfere with your marriage or relationship?


Many of us have experienced the interfering mother-in-law syndrome and feel some kind of exasperation about it. But mothers interfere with their children' marriages for five basic reasons.

The first is an attempt to cope with the empty nest syndrome by remaining as visible as possible in their children's lives. When siblings leave the home to start lives of their own, it is often a time of deep sorrow for parents, especially mothers. Their role immediately changes from that of being active protector, guardian and mentor to a detached onlooker, sought only when needed. This can be rather emotionally traumatic and excluding for some parents. It is often a difficult time of transition as they are not quite sure of the new role they should adopt, or their value to the newly weds. To keep that value intact, they begin to interfere through unsolicited advice, criticisms or observations, believing that to be the best way of maintaining their 'usefulness'.

Second is their desire to continue to exercise control. Some parents are very controlling and find it really hard to let go. They always see their children as 'children', never grown up, or mature enough to make their own decisios. They believe they have to make the decisions for them, and really find it hard to accept their kids' new status of having a life of their own. The desire to still be the protector and guardian overrides their tact and common sense. Instead they seek every opportunity to have an input in their children's lives, no matter what damage they might be causing. Control also comes from a desire to have everything done 'perfectly' and perfection means just one way of doing things: the mother's. That's the way the mother did it, have aways done it and, if her children does it differently, they are regarded as not knowing what they are doing and need her 'help'. It doesn't seem to matter if those kids wish to do things their way. With perfectionists, only the mother's way counts and that's most important to a controlling mother.

Third is to compete with their children in order to maintain their status and identity. Having a family gives a woman status, and value, especially for those who stay at home to look after their family. That is the only role they know. Take that away and there is a loss of value, of identity and a feeling of being insignificant and unwanted. Interfering in their children's marriages keep that value, makes them feel useful and involved and maintain their sense of purpose.

Fourth, to stave off loneliness. Mothers are more emotional and outgoing than fathers. They really miss their kids when they leave home. The sense of loneliness, of being on the outside looking in, can often feel bewildering and isolating. Mothers try to avoid that feeling of being on the outside by making themselves useful to the couple, especially with unwanted advice and their unwelcome presence.

Finally, when they are unhappy with their children's choice of mates. By keeping anchored to the marriage in some way they believe they will ultimately influence its direction. Many might secretly hope that their son or daughter will eventually 'see sense' and ditch the partner and might even deliberately give input or advice to aid this wish. They are likely to feel they are protecting their child from this person who is certainly not suitable. By constantly interfering it keeps them involved and playing the role of much needed protector, as well as being available 'in case anything happens'.

Altogether, mothers interfere for primary emotional reasons: to be valued, wanted and useful. Interfering maintains their purpose, it continues their control, if they are the controlling type, validates their expertise which they are keen to pass on to the newly weds and maintains their sense of identity as a significant protector in the lives of their children.

Why did things change so much after my marriage?


Change in any relationship is inevitable because the two people involved are continually evolving from one stage to the next in their lives. They are bound to behave differently as they mature and their perspectives change. It is difficult to remain the same in a marriage because, almost immediately after the ceremony, the perceptions and expectations of the couple change in an unrealistic way, especially the desire to change each other into the longed-for ideal.

Many women mistakenly believe that once the ring is on and the vows are taken, they can change their men into the perceived ideal. They would like to make their men more romantic, loving, caring and appreciative. They live in the hope of changing men after they begin to live with them, to make them into the shining knight they seek. They perceive men as the clay which they can shape to their idea of perfection over time, but this is often futile as the men resist it at every turn. After all, if women find it so hard to change themselves, how can it be any easier to change their men?

For many men it is the opposite. They live in fear of the women they marry changing at all. They wish their partner to stay the same throughout the relationship, to be the exact individual they loved so much in the attraction phase: for them to stay slim, svelte and beautiful, always. But that is not possible because we all have to change as we get older and age soon take its toll. Men change too, hence the bald heads and wider girth they acquire later, but many do not acknowledge this change. They are usually too busy focusing on their partners' growing lines and sagging parts to notice anything about themselves. In fact, by living in denial regarding their own physical development, it provides the rationale to keep them from changing themselves in any way.

Additionally, the more we try to change someone, the more likely he/she is to resist and to perceive it as an assault on who they are and prefer to be. Changing others then becomes a futile process but one which, ironically, occupies a major part of our lives. Gradually we learn that only by changing ourselves and our perceptions will we get the change we seek in others. But often, by then, it is too late.

Why some black women don't marry


Some black women don't marry because of cultural pressures and expectations around their partners. There is a lot of fear around marriage because of the specific cultural behaviour that characterises being black. With the high number of black children without stable fathers, black women stereotypically perceive black men, rightly or wrongly, to be feckless, insincere, immature, unreliable and uncaring. They believe they are likely to be hurt once they have committed themselves to a black man and would rather have the freedom to dictate their lives in ways they feel best, than to be 'trapped' in a long term relationship that appears to be going nowhere or might leave them open and vulnerable to be hurt.

Some black communities have a history of one-parent families, broken relationships, multiple partnerships and infidelity. The men, in particular, seem unable to sustain long-term relationships with a single partner. They are often looking elsewhere for someone else, perhaps to prove their prowess, to boost their low esteem or to remind themselves of their ability to attract other women. This makes many black women feel insecure and vulnerable when they give their heart to the men they desire.

Research has shown that it is also black women, mainly, who are forging ahead in careers, providing the steady money and progress in the home. That not only makes them more desirable but also exposed to being taken advantage of, providing a nest and security for men who might not be as industrious or ambitious. This only leads to greater hurt and stress which many black women are now increasingly trying to avoid.

For all these factors, many women fear the long-term commitment which marriage brings, They would rather struggle on their own, or have casual relationships, than settle down with anyone in order to 'protect' themselves. They believe that by remaining unmarried, they not only preserve their attraction and desirability, but they also protect themselves from having the 'wrong' type of men around them. The men too are often reluctant to marry black women because they perceive them to care most about money and material things without being really loving and that adds to the ever decreasing wish to marry within many black communities.

In today's world where almost everything has to be 'perfect', getting a partner is no different. He has to be perfect too and, in the eyes of many black women, their men are far from perfect. They appear to be selfish, irresponsible and unfaithful and those three attributes tend to deter women who might wish to take the plunge. Many black women also believe they do not need a man in their life to enhance them, especially if they have a career, with their own money and are happily taking care of themselves. They look at the perceived 'angst' relating to a marriage, then look at their single lifestyle with pride and quietly say 'No contest', while they remain firmly single.

Why marriage is not for everyone


Marriage is not for everyone because it depends on what the individual is seeking for her/himself, whether they are confident or insecure and whether they value domesticity over a career. Moreover, the whole concept of marriage, of bringing two virtual strangers together for life or whenever, embodies and promotes three main elements: commitment, possessiveness and security.

This is the hardest part of marriage for many people. There is much fear around commitment, of having to be beholden to, responsible for or attached to one person forever, or for a very long time. Many people cannot cope with this total giving of themselves until eternity and find it very difficult to even entertain the idea. Men, in particular, fear commitment and would often do anything to avoid making marriage vows, preferring to go from one relationship to another, until they they are ready to have children. In fact, 10 years ago, men used to leave their family homes in the UK at an average age of 30 to seek a partner. Now they are staying with their parents until they are 34 years old, enjoying as much single time as possible. Commitment can be very claustrophobic for very confident people who don't care about security or anything too long-term and so this element would put off a lot of people from marrying.

The very act of taking public vows and pledging one's self to another stresses the possessiveness of the new relationship - that the parties being joined together actually belong to one another. Two completely different people now turn into 'my wife' and 'my husband', their individual earnings and possessions now combined for mutual use. From then on, they are viewed as one entity by others, each of them stripped of their individuality and uniqueness to become Mr and Mrs. By belonging to someone else, their activities and desires are immediately curtailed to fit the new situation. One is hardly likely to go on holiday without the other, for example, and many couples spend their lives trying to please each other while denying what they really want for themselves. It was not too long ago that women became the physical possessions of their husbands, as goods and chattels to be treated however the men dictated, hence why there was so much domestic abuse and sheer mistreatment and why so many modern people resist the state of marriage. The very idea of belonging to someone would put off those who value their individuality.

The one thing a marriage offers, above all, especially where children are involved, is security. People who are married know that they can rely on their partner because their public affirmation of each other carries a legal base and public recognition and is thus protected on all fronts. There is also the security of having a partner, a mentor, a carer, a lover and someone who is always there for you in good times and in bad. Many people do not care about this kind of security and prefer to forge ahead on their own so they would resist what they might regard as a 'strait-jacket' to their individual freedom. Confident go-getters tend to resist security. Often pioneers in their lives and work, they regard security as restricting and limiting hence their likely preference for remaining single in relationships they can control.

Marriage certainly does not suit everyone because it is a rite of passage agreed by society, not a mandatory status. It is not seen as desirable by many independent people who do not wish to pledge themselves to other people for the duration of their lives and is often avoided at all cost.

Should it be compulsory for couples to sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage


No, this should not be necessary at all because a marriage is not about money. It is about two people desiring to share their life together, without any coercion. Any emphasis on money sends out the wrong signal as to why they would wish to be together. However, something d required to safeguard the gains, property and achievements of both parties when they are together.

The need for such safeguards is understandable considering all the divorce settlements which have been disproportionate to the actual length of the marriage and earning power of the individuals concerned. But if there is a clear understanding by everyone, at the beginning, that only the duration of that marriage would be taken into account in a court of law, there would be no need for pre-nups, neither would there be all the angst surrounding unfair payments.

A marriage should be seen to start from the day the couple actually meet one another, not the day they sign their certificate. That emphasises the break with the former lives of the couple and also sets a definite time of duration up until when the marriage ends. Any divorce would then take into account only that period of time the couple are together, which would negate the need for any pre-nuptials. If that is fully understood by all parties, or laid down in the law, there would be no need for lawyers because any claims would be restricted to anything earned and shared within that duration, and not on all the property and possession of the couple.

For example, in Sir Paul and Heather McCartney's case. They have only been together for 4 years. If it was clearly understood that she would be entitled to 50% of anything he made in that 5 years, which is much fairer, especially as she wasn't around when he was making the rest of his money, then no one would feel aggrieved about such an arrangement. Everything would be confined to that period of time they are actually together. This kind of agreement should make everyone more comfortable about getting married without the need to rob such an important moment of its romance by clinically concentrating on possessions, or who should get what.

How long would you stay in a bad marriage?


No one should stay in a bad relationship for four main reasons:

First, whatever you are experiencing in that marriage will make you worse in anxiety, stress and ill health over time. We are not meant to be constantly unhappy. We are here to be happy so that when there is a crisis, we can then react with more confidence and skill. When our bodies are constantly up in adrenalin and negativity, it erodes our capabilities and gradually makes us stressed. Eventually, stress can kill.

Second, a relationship is supposed to make you happy, not sad. Two people do not get together to make each other unhappy, to argue all day long, or to be nasty to each other. The purpose of any relationship is love, affection, communication, respect and enhancing the quality of each other's lives. By pooling resources, people get a better existence. If your relationship is not serving that purpose, then it is not a relationship at all. It is just two people living together for convenience, and at the expense of each other. That is no way to live.

Third, the longer you stay in that state, the more unhappy you will get, the more you will lose your own ability to love as you gradually get bitter, angry and resentful and the more you will be like your partner. You are not getting the results you desire in the relationship because you are waiting for him to change (as you say 'he refuses to fix it'). But the only person who can ever change satisfactorily is yourself. No one else. Once you change your behaviour, the other person will change too. Why should he change if you are treating him the same, accepting his attitude and reinforcing that bad behaviour too?

There is no payoff for him, in his eyes, so he will just make you promises and keep doing what he has always done, just as you are doing what you have always done too. But in such a situation you will only both keep getting what you've always got. Your future matters the most. It is not about him. It is about you and your child, so it is up to YOU to make decisions about your life, whatever the consequences are, and do them. He would have to change too because you wouldn't be acting the same way anymore!

Finally, the bad relationship you are experiencing will also affect the emotional well being of your child. Your daughter is learning by your actions and is not being exposed to a lot of love just now because kids are more sensitive to parental unhappiness and conflict, no matter how you might try to hide it. It is best to be in a loving situation by yourself than a constantly conflicting one with someone else which your child has to be part of. It will gradually damage her own development too if all she has to see is your unhappiness and his bad behaviour.

If you are unhappy, your mind is trying to tell you something: that you are ready for a new start and a new life. Once you have talked a lot and there is no change, it is time to act. Nothing else will give you what you want except action on your part. We all deserve happiness and if you stay in that relationship, everything will deteriorate around you rapidly because nothing can get better in such a situation. Furthermore, you will merely be fighting against yourself by ignoring your own needs.

Leaving a bad marriage takes courage and is certainly not easy to do when one thinks of all the practicalities and where children are involved. But as one who had to leave a bad marriage after 33 years, I can guarantee you that once you make the decision, the doors will open for you and it won't be half as bad as remaining where you are, believe me. But only you can make that decision and in your own time.

Has marriage become a virtual prison for some people?


There are over 6 million people in Britain registered on dating sites. Considering the small population compared to other countries, that's a staggering amount of Brits using websites to find a partner - and we won't even mention the number of Americans on theirs. From a single woman's point of view I can see the benefits: it is private, as one does it from one's home and computer, much safer than going to a club or pub on one's own, there is more control over whom one sees or chats to and there are plenty of choices according to one's preferences and expectations.

In fact, it is so discrete, there was even a titled Earl not so long ago on one of the posher sites, for any females who fancied being a 'Countess'! However, the only fly in the ointment is the increasing number of married people using those sites. For the very reasons quoted above, they seem to find them ideal. They can have a clandestine relationship, anywhere they happen to be in the world, thanks to their laptops, without anyone ever knowing, particularly the unsuspecting wives or husbands they live with, and so quietly have their cake and eat it.

There appears to be three types of married members. The first type seems to just need someone to talk to. They are not interested in meeting, are often articulate and wish to have new stimulation and the flattering attention of someone else. The second type are clearly unhappy in their relationships, are desperate to do something about it and are seeking support, affirmation and advice in taking the next step. Many of them are 'separated' inside the home or have acknowledged that the relationship is over but lack the courage to finalise it by themselves.

Those two types one can understand to some degree but it's the third type that worries me most. The ones that are reputedly looking to spice up their life either with similar married others or single people who don't mind that kind of liaison. Seeing the comments they make on their profiles, one wonders why they bothered to get married at all, especially the ones like this man's: "I am married, intend to stay married, but I am looking for 'FUN'!"

As this kind of sentiment is repeated often in such profiles, it got me thinking about the current perception of marriage among certain folks. To them it is obviously a place for soberness and unhappiness, for grim reality, almost like a prison, perhaps, and a place for behaving 'properly'. Above all, a starchy, limiting place you leave to get the real 'fun' outside. These days, I avoid the word 'fun' altogether on dating sites, as it now carries a completely different connotation. It seems 'fun' is what you have when you do not wish for any commitment, when you think of no one except yourself and what you get outside when you are married! What a depressing way to view the most important relationship in our lives? But let's examine this perception of 'fun', for a moment.

Real fun does not come outside marriage or without any kind of commitment. That's a short term situation which suspends any long-term marital problems very briefly but which are always recurring until addressed. Furthermore, in many cases, such 'fun' makes the marriage/relationship worse because it shows the cheating partner what he/she is missing at home. Worst still, it sets up a trail of guilt which drains the relationship of its trust, openness and gaity.

The origin of real fun

Real fun comes inside us when WE are happy with ourselves, when we are honest, sincere, transparent in what we do, and respect the person we are with enough not to cheat on them. It is the most magical and enjoyable time of our lives when we are with the right person. We just want to be with them all the time, to ring them up, text them, love them and laugh with them. That happens at the beginning of almost every relationship, in the heady days of courting and romance. However, the fun starts to drain from relationships when partners stop wooing each other. Once married, they mistakenly believe they don't have to treat their partners lovingly anymore as they become overwhelmed or distracted by domesticity and career issues. Gradually, a state of neglect seeps in.

They stop thinking of each other's needs, stop loooking after one another, stop doing things together, stop taking time out for each other, stop praising and communicating to one another as all attention switches to the kids and other extraneous matters. Soon resentment creeps in as they start witholding affection and sex, start dissing each other, start carping and fault finding and blaming each other instead. In short, they begin to take their partners for granted and treat them badly creating constant emotional stress and low self-esteem, often in a desire to control or to dictate only their needs.

Of course, many people in such unhappy situations often find it difficult to say how they feel, to talk through their fears or their pain. Being afraid of living alone, they exist in a kind of internal loneliness and fear while they rob themselves of a life. Too many people seeking a 'quiet life' and not keen to 'upset' the other person ignore their basic rights of expression and deliberately conceal their anxieties, their pain or problems from their partners.

Some are trapped by monetary considerations because of their material assets, should they divorce - things taking precedence over their quality of life. They stay put, pretending all is well and being 'model' partners, while busily cheating outside. They might get that 'fun' they lack in their home, yet it is no 'fun' at all in any real sense as they always have to return to the unresolved issues they have. Furthermore, the deceptive nature of such fun merely causes added emotional stress and greater feelings of inadequacy.

The Top 10 reasons why people divorce


There are, of course, many reasons why people divorce. But there are 10 top ones which seem to crop up regularly between couples, and they can be divided into two clear categories.

1. The PHYSICAL reasons which tend to be self inflicted, for a variety of reasons, but mainly through a lack of knowledge, skill and training in social interaction as well as a lack of self control.

2. The EMOTIONAL ones which are not foreseen because they are either lying dormant until a particular time, they emerge in an emotional crisis or they answer a specific need within us according to where we are in our lives.

There is always hope of fixing the physical reasons through counselling, conflict resolution or open, honest discussions between the couple. But the emotional reasons are almost impossible to fix because many people are often unaware why their actions have changed or are unsure why they are behaving that way. In fact, it is safe to say that a marriage is more likely to be lost if it is beset by the top emotional reasons because it is often difficult to find workable answers to them through simple ignorance and the natural desire to look after the self.

Top Physical Reasons for Divorce
a. Lack of communication: Long marriages, in particular suffer from this. A couple gradually realise that they are mismatched in communication. They hardly talk to each other, they stop sharing activities, they do not discuss important aspects of the relationship and, worst of all, they are not intellectually compatible. Soon they stop trying to communicate and avoid opportunities to do so. In essence, being unable to connect with one another, they mainly tolerate each other in an air of resignation rather than finding anything in common they wish to share.

b. Money problems: Any recession is a bad time for a marriage. A partnership can be fine when everyone is comfortable, there is enough money to go round and all is well. But recession and its effects test a marriage to the limit. Gradually the couple has to utilise their own emotional, physical and intellectual resources to keep things on an even keel. That is not very easy to do when there are bills to be paid, children and household expenses and a partner might have lost a job. Such fraught times strain the strongest relationships and it is not long before the blame and resentment creep in.

c. Alcohol, gambling and drug addictions: This reason is both an emotional and physical one, but, as it is usually self-inflicted, it mainly belongs to this category. For whatever reason, people become involved in drinking too much alcohol, gambling too much or involved in drugs, for example. Often they might have some problems and these activities ease the discomfort and anxiety for a while. Such activities often start off on a socially acceptable level but, with increasing use, partners soon find that they become a kind of crutch to lean on when they become addictive. The fact that they have dramatic effects on the household, especially in the amount of money being spent on them, spell disaster for any couple.

d. Problems with in-laws: This is one of the top perennial problems for divorce because, for many parents, no one is ever good enough for their children, and for many partners, who might be still attached to their parental home, the level of insecurity all round often prove very frustrating to deal with. Some parents are very interfering while some partners can be quite controlling and, without a happy balance, the couple are not really given a chance to guide and realise their own future together, with parental support. Gradually the pressure becomes unbearable.

e. Lack of resolution in marital conflicts: No one provides a manual for the perfect relationship after one is married and it is no easy task expecting two virtual strangers to get it right first time. There will be many interactive bends to negotiate. When the couple lack the social skills to do it, everything soon becomes an issue. This is because most people are so keen to be 'right' they forget about the relationship which gradually goes by the wayside.

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Top Emotional Reasons for Divorce

a. Being abandoned: This situation arises mainly through infidelity and betrayal and is very difficult to bear when one is on the receiving end of it. This stems from a strong emotional need inside the offending party for something that is missing from their life, or something they feel they have to do to prove themselves. Either way, infidelity usually leaves a lot of pain and hurt in its wake which then destroys the marriage.

b. Adult Evolution: This one is a real subtle killer because most couples are not even aware that individual evolution is quietly working its way inside them. We are all on a journey from one destination to another - from birth to growth to death. If we stayed the same forever we would never age or increase our life experiences. It follows that we will always be changing, never remaining static. Hence someone who is married at 30 will not be the same person when they are 45. Yet many couples take long term vows as if they will be the exact person with the same needs and aspirations in 20 years' time!

But the difference is even more stark if people educate/train themselves and simply want different things as mature men/women from what they wanted when they were younger. Further more, it is not in our nature to keep to the same thing on and on. Change is an integral part of life and nature. Soon we do get bored with partners, especially if the relationship has become stale, predictable and full of neglect.

c. Emotional, verbal and physical abuse: Abuse of any kind is never good. Sometimes people tend to focus on physical abuse as the worst part of any relationship but the verbal and emotional (intimidation) aspects can be even worse, if they continue relentlessly over time because they rob the people on the receiving end of dignity, self esteem and respect.

d. Lack of reciprocity: Give and take in any marriage is crucial if it is to work on an equal basis. If one partner is all for him/herself and is not reciprocal in actions, it means that only one person will be giving, and doing most things, while the other will just be taking. Nothing can be sustained in such a one-sided manner for too long.

e. Unrealistic expectations: These are found in every relationship but it depends on the extent to which they are in use. Some women come to their marriages expecting to change their men soon afterwards into their 'ideal' while some men expect their partner to physically remain the same forever! Neither expectation is possible but these are classic examples of the expectations we bring with us to relationships which are never likely to be fulfilled, instead of coming with an open mind and being prepared to compromise and negotiate. Often takers are so entrenched in their expectations, the other person's desires cease to matter. Of course, in such situations, conflict and divorce are not far off.

Marriage: Why is it failing relentlessly?


Marriages are failing in a big way because of a basic lack of trust in them, the increased choices that are available to everyone and the costs associated with divorce. However, it seems that four other common reasons are helping to reduce the desire to marry in a big way.

1. Basic Boredom

The demographic nail in the coffin of marriage stems from the state of society itself. The majority population is ageing rapidly and, within the next few years, the average life expectancy for a man in the UK will be 87 years old and 93 years for a woman. We cannot write ourselves off at 50 years anymore, otherwise, what on earth are we going to do with the next 30 to 40 years? Of course, this increasing longevity means that people in long relationships get tired of one another and a lot of unhappiness ensues because of one main paradox: We get used to our partners over the years together and want to stay married for that feeling of security and the strong, developing emotional bond, but are as bored as hell when the relationship is not fulfilling. This is because our natural physical, intellectual and emotional evolution keeps the desire to experiment at a significant level in our quest to develop individual potential.

Very few people are bold or honest enough to acknowledge the fact that they're bored, and even fewer are courageous enough to do something about it. Instead, they find all sorts of reasons for the problems (while they studiously avoid the obvious) and many seek solace elsewhere. This desire for new challenges is then satisfied externally while they blame themselves or their partners for their growing unhappiness, workaholism or infidelity, and surreptitiously live a lie. The trouble with lies, those handy fig leaves to the vulnerability of relationships, is that they can only be maintained by even more lies which inevitably, and painfully, become exposed.

2. Workplace Gender Competition
The increasing competition in the workplace has brought its own pressures too. The bid for job parity and opportunity in a technological world has caused a re-definition of women's roles, one which has devalued the homemaker in the process. But modern woman no longer needs male protection. The burgeoning market of part-time work, home work, short-term contracts and consultancy positions are proving ideal for women, but a threat to men, who feel increasingly devalued in an uncertain market as their skills become obsolete. The financial and physical freedom women now enjoy has created higher expectations and aspirations leading to greater self-development and individual rights. Being a single woman no longer spells lonely spinsterhood or life in an isolated nunnery. It is more likely to mean wider choice and autonomy, greater eligibility and a much more affluent, independent lifestyle.

3. Fear of Being Hurt

Both men and women now strive for far more flexibility in their life and less commitment in this ideal single state, one which is supposed to minimise potential hurt, while some of the most miserable people boast the most about avoiding future hurt. But they also avoid a life, without realising their loss. To get to any kind of hurt, one would have experienced the pleasure. Many people miss out on the essence and enjoyment of life in their bid to avoid the pain which is a necessary part of human development. Every kind of hurt teaches us how to deal with the next one we encounter, gradually developing our coping and interactive skills.

Thus, the people who avoid hurt the most are the ones least likely to address the causes of that pain because it is always easier to blame someone else than to look to themselves. They might not get hurt by remaining steadfastly 'single and in control', but they won't have much fulfilment either. By not taking any risks with other people they are likely to remain unappealing, frigid fossils in the rut of perfection while their emotional lives atrophy and wither.

Satisfying our emotional needs is as essential as sating the physical and intellectual ones. A well-rounded, personal development is not possible without all three elements being addressed. No matter how much we try to avoid others, human beings are social animals with an intrinsic need for others, hence why we are connected physically. Having or giving no love and affection may be fine for a while but, like any machine that needs maintenance, if such a situation continues indefinitely, it is likely to make you unhappy, and unhappiness ages you fast, makes you vulnerable to illnesses and shortens your life, but such digression is for another time.

4. Changed Expectations
With increased independence for women has come a change in what is expected from a marriage too. many years ago, a woman was at the mercy of a man in a marriage. Even her possessions became his when they married and many women were abused because of that gross imbalance in power. marriage was clearly a man’s prerogative. Women were mainly expected to stay home, to have sex even if they didn’t enjoy it and to do as they were told, like the children they raised.

Our modern age has created new expectations of what a marriage in that both parties are now seeking almost perfection in what it should deliver. The key word is ‘happiness’ and if one party feels there isn’t enough of that, there is no patience to work through issues as in the past, or no stigma to keep them from being divorced, so partners vote with their feet. Expectations tend to be much higher in our new disposable technological world, which is likely to prevent them being fulfilled, especially when each party has his/her own expectations. It makes for a minefield of frustrated desires, especially as women now exercise their rights of refusal, and much unhappiness all round as men become bewildered in how they should react.

Should all marriages be licensed for 10 years, initially, and be renewable after that?


This might sound an odd question in view of the nature of marriage and its function.

However, most young and older people are frightened by the permanency of the vows and the idea of being stuck forever in a 'bad' relationship from which they might not be able to extricate themselves. Ten years seem appropriate too, especially when the duration of the average British marriage is now seven to nine years and falling, and the average American union is even less. It would mean a quick dissolution, if it didn't work out, without too much money and fuss involved, especially if it has to be renewed to continue. The time involved is just long enough for stability but short enough to focus minds and hearts wherever there is a danger of one party taking the other for granted or betraying a trust.

Renewal of the licence would not only be at the wish of both parties, but it could also be a time for public renewal of vows and commitment, if required, and would prevent people being stuck too long in very miserable and stressful situations. Moving on would appear less traumatic, if anyone is unhappy, and without too much hassle or guilt. People might even communicate more, knowing that the end will be inevitable if there is no give and take. No doubt, there will be many critics of this proposal, but if there are fewer marriages now, anything which lasts ten years and offers some joy and greater comfort for the family involved has to be much better than no marriage at all, or more divorces.

What do you say to that?

Five reasons why marriages are in decline


Marriages are significantly on the decline in the UK. Thirty six years ago, 480,285 marriages took place. In 2007, only 231,450 weddings were registered, down a massive 52% during that time. In fact, the year 2007 produced the lowest marriage rates since they were registered. One writer in the Guardian attributed the gradual fall mainly to a lack of trust in society among people for each other. That could be one factor, but I doubt if it comes anywhere near the five major factors which are keeping marriages at bay in our technological world.

The first and main reason is that today's men and women are caught in transition.
The old authoritarian order where men were regarded as head of the household and could literally dictate whether a woman was taken or remained a spinster for life has been gradually swept away. Both sexes are now caught in no man's land rapidly re-writing the rules. Women, in particular, are enjoying new freedoms, able to take care of themselves without needing to marry to do so. They have their own income, their own houses and their own cars, the kind of assets men would boast of when trying to woo a woman.

Many men now feel inadequate in that respect and are unsure of their approach. Worse still, too many lack confidence in how to interact with women. The goalposts of macho security have long moved and, fearing being rejected by the new independent women, many men prefer to look but lack the courage to make any connection. The result is a lot of lonely people busily skirting around each other, superficially looking keen and eager, but, in the absence of modern protocol, are often scared witless as to how they should proceed with that contact.

The next key factor is a fear of being hurt.
Men on dating sites even have handles that say 'Please don't hurt me!", which sounds so wimpish and cowardly. One feels the urge to say: We've all been hurt, just get over it! But men, in particular, take hurting very badly and many lives are actually dictated by that fear of being emotionally scarred. Yet, by focusing on being 'hurt', they forget that pleasure comes before any kind of hurt and so they'll miss out on the pleasure too. Which is why many of them are increasingly lonely, angry and bitter at the state of their lives. A person living in fear is not a happy one. They spell doom and gloom because they are simply waiting for the next worst thing to happen to them.

Of course it does, in a self-fulfilling way, because when we fear we bring that fear into reality through our expectations and a lack of trust. If they believe that the next woman they meet will cheat on them it is only a matter of time before this happens because the way they treat that woman, mainly with suspicion and negative expectations, will soon piss her off enough and send her into the arms of another. Most men need to recognise that life goes in a balance: pain and pleasure, up and down, good and bad, birth and death. We cannot have one without the other and the quicker we cope with each event and leave it behind, the more effectively we cope with hurting too.

The third problem for modern couples is a perfectionism in choice of partners.
Most people now will not make do with 'second best' in their eyes. Unless their choices are exactly right in every way, fitting the perfect imaginary identikit, they will not marry. She must have certain characteristics, especially being "young, slim and beautiful" and he must be "tall, handsome, solvent/wealthy", and certainly not bald! Of course, as there would be a premium on these perfect beings, with younger women wanting even younger men, there are a lot of unhappy people whose unrealistic expectations are being ignored.

Many people foolishly believe that they are actually shopping for an unchanging product when they are seeking a partner, one that comes to order. But human beings are emotionally diverse and are ever changing. Often by focusing on some aspects to the detriment of others, one is likely to miss something else of value that person might bring. The only two things that should matter in a connection is: Do I like this person? And the degree of chemistry between them.

The next major factor is a practical one: fear of divorce costs.
Marrying is pretty simple to do if one doesn't desire a big splash. But come the divorce and it can be traumatic because everything has to be shared. When there is bitterness and resentment included as well, that usually mean lawyers, and lawyers cost. That is why many people baulk at weddings. They project themselves further down the line and the sheer thought of the expense of divorce puts all thoughts of marriage in the shade. For some people it is all too much.

Finally, there is the sex factor.
In the past, most people, especially women, 'saved' themselves for the man of their dreams and so if men wanted sex, they could only get in being married. Now with freer sex between couples, there is no need for marriage, especially when one puts that together with the desire to have children significantly decreasing or being deferred to a later age. Many men are now having children in their late 40s and early 50s, putting careers firmly in front of families. It means the desire to settle down with someone and to have a family is lessened to a large degree for younger people. Many do not see the point in getting married at all, especially if they believe that they cannot afford to keep a family.

Fifty years ago marriage was the important foundation for society. It validated the family unit, it confirmed procreation, it established men in caring roles and gave security to women who often had no other outlet for their talents. Today, with increasing self awareness and independence, the reasons for marriage are becoming obsolete, except in religious or traditional spheres. One thing seems certain: so long as people fear being hurt, seek perfect partners and lack the confidence to interact with one another, the decline of marriage will continue until something else, perhaps, gradually takes its place.

Why Marriages Are Now in Dramatic Decline (UK)


Marriage is a three-ring circus....engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. Sorry, joke! But if the most recent divorce statistics are anything to go by, it is obviously based on fact. Nearly 47 per cent of all marriages in the UK now end in divorce, with far fewer people marrying. That is almost one in every two unions.

A little more than 40 years ago, over two-thirds (68 per cent) of UK households were made up of married couples, but the latest figure is just over 38 per cent, and falling. In fact, 2005 saw the lowest number of marriages recorded since 1896. Additionally, the proportion of people cohabiting together informally has risen to 38 per cent.

For example, our union was a matrimonial dinosaur in an era of quickie relationships, quickie divorces, the advance of the career woman, the acceptance of infidelity as a virtuous act and the relentless increase in childhood trauma and screwed-up emotions. My ex and I came from hugely contrasting backgrounds and two different continents, with entirely different outlooks and personalities. United by a love of reggae, Bob Marley's music, and being very independent individuals, we married across cultural boundaries in the 1960s when it was not fashionable to do so. Our union was thus problematic from day one. The real surprise is that we confounded all the experts who did not expect our interracial union to last too long, let alone more than three decades.

Unrealistic Aims

However, contrary to the evidence of even longer partnerships, living happily ever after is an unrealistic ideal, given human nature, current emphasis on the individual and the multifarious distractions of our modern age. People marvel at the rising number of divorces, but, there are so many factors working against marriages now, it is a wonder there are any long-term unions at all! It might surprise couples to know that they are more victims than active provocateurs in any problematic relationship because the seal for their fate would have been set the day they set eyes on their partners. But that's another article!

Take the length of time people actually stay together, a key element in any relationship. It is really pointless beating yourself up because your marriage lasted only 12 years, for example. If you think about it logically, up to 60 years ago the mortality rate was just over 60 years. One hundred years back it was in the fifties and two hundred years before that you were lucky to be alive at 40. If you got married then, the vows were truly for life because you would be dead within 10 to 15 years! No one had time to get tired of their spouse. Men, and even women, could look to enjoy two or three legitimate partners in their lifetime, if they made it to the age of 60 or beyond. So, being together solidly, and happily, for 10 years now is perhaps much better all round, and could even be a bonus to your health, rather than being unhappy and resentful for 20. A relationship, especially a bad one, affects everyone in the family and takes a huge toll on your life and we all know that this life is not a rehearsal. It is the only one we've got. So spending it in miserable regret, resentment and longing is like looking a gift horse ungratefully in the mouth!

Pressures Squeezing Marriages

With divorces rapidly chasing marriages for equal parity, the institution of marriage is under real threat. There are too many pressures squeezing marriages from all sides for them to remain the best choice for future happiness, and many people are 'calling time'. They are turning to the single life and cohabiting 'sinfully' instead. The bride may be beautiful, the ritual engaging and the ceremony lavish, but such ingredients are no guarantee of future bliss. In fact, there is almost an inverse correlation between the size and cost of the wedding and the length of time the relationship actually lasts, as shown by our example.

Twelve sceptical witnesses saw us pledge our love in a registry office in June 1969, followed by a shoestring celebration befitting the lowly economic state of a student nurse and a young technician who were very much in love. Our marriage then spanned 33 years, many of them loving, enjoyable and some downright delicious. Three of my friends, who spared no expense on their bash, called it a day many moons ago, averaging six years between them. Again, you can't get more lavish than our royals, and look what happened to them!

Perhaps there is too much emphasis on the ceremonial form and too little on the vital substance of co-existing together. Long marriages also echo a bygone age of quiet repression and authoritarian angst. The unions of today, as brief as they are, tend to be more reflective of the fickleness of human nature and the reality of modern life.

Same Gender Marriage...Is It Okay?


Q. What is your stand in same gender marriage? Do you agree that it should be legalized all over the world?

A. It is not for me to decide whether someone should get married or not, unless I am the other half of it! However, my personal belief is that same gender marriage is about love and I much prefer to make love than war. Whatever people wish to do together, so long as there is no coercion, no deliberate offence to someone else and they are both happy, I say good luck to them.
It really is none of my business what they do in private, but fairness and equity is my business. We seem to make a lot of noise about love and human affection when they do not conform to expectations, yet are strangely quiet when it comes to the atrocities of the world that pander to hate. We expend a lot of energy agitating over whether gays should marry or not, yet people are dying every day, leading terrible hopeless lives and that does not seem to concern us as much.

As long as someone doesn't impose their chosen lifestyle on me, I wish them luck and the best wishes in all the world in achieving what makes them happy. Life is far too short not to make the most of it in the ways we desire, instead of according to other people's narrow values and expectations. I am all for same sex marriage, if that is what the parties want. However, it should be called something else, as it does in England (civil partnerships) so that there is no perception that the couple is heterosexual and saves any explanations on their part too.
For example, if I am speaking to someone in England on the phone whom I have never met, the minute they say they are in a 'civil partnership', I know they are gay and can treat them according to how they wish to be treated. No questions, comments or clarifications are required. I don't have to make the usual assumptions if they had said they were 'married'. It also give gays the power to define how they wish to be addressed and perceived. So marriage for gays has been working very well in the UK for since it came into being.

In fact, civil partnerships are now a seamless part of British society and gays don't have to feel excluded from other married couples. Most of all, they can wear being gay with pride without having to feel any different from other members of our community, and that is the way it should be. gays are never going to go away. They will always be there. So, yes, gay marriages should certainly be legalised all over the world. Only people's fear, bigotry, desire to control and inability to reconcile their religious beliefs with the actual reality are getting in the way of that.