[FOUNTAIN]Till Death, or Whim, Do Us Part

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[FOUNTAIN]Till Death, or Whim, Do Us Part

There is a saying, "Open both eyes before marriage but close one eye after marriage." Getting married is something to take care about, but after marriage the partners should overlook flaws or mistakes and cover for each other as much as possible. They vowed, after all, to stay together "until their hair become white and weak like roots of green onion."

But is it as easy as people say? Even those who kept their eyes closed before marriage open both eyes wide after the vows. The British writer Oscar Wilde said that marriage is based on mutual misunderstandings. The German poet Heinrich Heine said that marriage is a turbulent sea in which no compass can find its way.

Scottie Wolf, who was an American pastor, made getting married a lifetime hobby and is in the Guinness book for the most marriages. The Reverend Mr. Wolf swore, "Till death do us part," every time he got married, but even tiny irritants drove him mad. He divorced one wife because she ate sunflower seeds in bed. Another breakup came because his wife used his toothbrush. Before he died alone in a nursing home in 1997 at the age of 88, he married 29 times and divorced 28 times.

Mr. Wolf's last wife married him as her 23d husband. She is also on the Guinness Book for the most marriages by a woman. Does this mean that the first divorce is hard but the rest are easy?

According to Dr. Judith Wallerstein, famous for her studies on the negative effects of divorce, the divorce rate for a newly wedded couple is 40 percent for both men and women, but rises to 60 percent for second marriages. Third marriages fail at a rate of 75 percent. These are of course statistics for the United States, but they indicate that remarried couples need more understanding and care for each other.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi explained why he has been living alone without remarrying by saying that divorce is 10 times more energy-consuming than marriage. After ending a horrible marriage, the idea that one can marry again whenever one chooses may be unrealistic, for after divorce people look for flaws and faults with both eyes open. It is difficult to fall in love again.

The National Statistical Office announced that last year 330,000 couples married and 120,000 split in Korea. Almost one in three marriages will fail. The divorce rate already has surpassed those of developed countries like Germany, France and Japan. People say it is impossible to figure out what goes on in a marriage just by listening to one spouse, but evidently these days married couples lack the patience to ride out the difficulties that arise in marriages. A social system that can minimize the negative side effects of divorce needs soon to be established.

by Bae Myung-bok

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