On Marriage

by Amalia

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

— Kahlil Gibran

This is the poem I usually write to my newlywed friends. I love it!! I hope this poem would serve as a reminder, that even though you are bonded and united in marriage, it is important for both of you to maintain the spaces in your togetherness; i.e. to be able to maintain your identity and individuality. You cannot expect your wife or husband to be exactly like you are or to be like what you want her or him to be. That’s a space which needs to be maintained so that one’s individuality can grow and flourish. Once that part is realized, I’m sure both of you would grow stronger as a couple.

I think, for me, this poem is not only about marriage. It can be applied in a relationship too. I do have some friends that once they’re in a relationship, they turn into a totally different person that I cannot even recognize. But once their boyfriend/girlfriend is not around, they become someone I previously come to know. I find it quite sad. They’re willing to change themselves for the sake of the relationship and I’m sure that’s not what they want themselves to be. They might not realize it now, but they will, eventually! How long can you pretend to be the other person, really?

What I found is that, many Indonesians (or perhaps Asians) act like that towards their boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe I’m generalizing too much, but hey, that’s what I discover most of the time. It’s as if one of them own the life of the other and control every single thing about him/her. And they’re not even married yet!

I’m lucky enough to have this rule strictly put in place from day one when it comes to boys and relationship. Basically, nobody has the right to dictate and control me and to force me to act/agree on/have something. Sure, you can always remind me if I do something wrong, but please provide me with strong arguments. Who are you to control me?! You’re not even my husband! 😀 If you can’t even do that, then you won’t be able to respect whatever opinions and qualities I have. You don’t like me for who I am! So, sorry boys. Au revoir!