[FOUNTAIN]Rules for a happy marriageThis is a story from the Plutarch book of Roman heroes. A general, Marcus Aemilius, divorced Pappilia, the daughter of a consul. On hearing the news, a friend asked, “Wasn’t your wife well mannered and lovely. Didn’t she have children?” He spoke as if he couldn’t understand why they had divorced.
At these words, Aemilius showed his shoes to his friend. “Isn’t this lovely?” he said. “This is a new pair of shoes. But do you know which part of my feet it is hurting?” He continued, “Some divorce because of some serious faults, but some separate because their characteristics and habits can not get along together and hurt each others’ feelings. Sometimes these situations become serious and lead to discord.” This is true. It is hard for others to know what happens between a married couple, just like one doesn’t know whether another person’s shoes are comfortable.
There is a saying that an argument between a married couple is like slicing water with a knife, meaning they are meaningless fights. However, this applies to only those who have a predestined bond. On the other hand, there is a saying, “If you have a bad spouse, both of you will become lifetime enemies.”
The reason Arthur Schopenhauer, the 19th century pessimistic philosopher, lived as a single man could be because he was afraid he might meet an enemy. “Marriage is cutting one’s rights in half and doubling one’s duties,” he said. This implies how difficult married life is.
But the number of people living together until death is decreasing. Instead, it is a worldwide trend that more people are separating, wishing they had never married.
Recently, the Dubai government, one of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates, made 49 commandments for married couples. The government has launched a campaign to address the problem of the breakdown of families, which was getting serious and driving up the divorce rate. There are many things to learn from the 49 commandments. It advises “Unfaithfulness of the husbands is the cruelest thing to wives,” “Satisfy feminist desires of wives” and “Verbal violence is forbidden.” To wives, it advises “Husbands do not like gossip. Do not nag at your husbands,” “Do not provoke your husbands. Husbands lose their self-restraint when they are aroused.”
Wouldn’t it be good if Korean couples followed this advice? If they put some effort wouldn’t they be able to overcome the difficulty that Marcus Aemilius had? The late Korean scholar Lee Hee-Seung said, “When you get married, kill half of your individuality and leave half as it is. Killing half of it means sacrifice and leaving half is love.”
by Lee Sang-il
The writer is deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.