"Do you take this woman/man to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife?" is a commonly used phrase in western society's marriage rituals.
But I'm proposing it be upgraded and amended to reflect the truth.
It should be: "Do you take this man/woman, his/her family, friends and pets to be a part of your life for as long as you both shall live?"
You wouldn't be able to dissect the question and answer positively for some elements because, let's face it, when you get into a serious, legally binding relationship with someone, that is exactly what will happen. You will be inheriting the whole kit and caboodle.
We hear mother-in-law jokes all the time. Mothers-in-law are painted as the most cantankerous people on the planet and the belief is she can make your life with your spouse a living hell if she decides that you are not worthy.
I know one young lady who despite all the signs, red flags and blaring alarms that her mother-in-law did not approve of her for her son, she decided that her love could stand up to any test and so she went ahead and said "I do".
It was a lovely wedding, the mother-in-law attended, but sat at the back of the church with her invited guest — the groom's ex-girlfriend. She did everything possible to break them apart, including inviting her son over and having the ex-girlfriend as the only other invited dinner guest, she even stooped to using witchcraft. The biggest blow was when the couple had their first child she created a stink at the hospital claiming that the child was not her son's. The young couple held it together for four years, but love was not able to conquer all this time around. The pressure was too much and their marriage crumbled.
There are some wonderful mothers-in-law out there who support and encourage, but some bad ones do exist and they are not alone.
Let's not for one minute overlook the friends. Your friends know things about you that your spouse will never know. Chances are you have known them longer than you have known your spouse and their opinion is usually respected. If one of your friends does not like your spouse, the dolly house is on shaky ground. They may not be blood, but they can cause sufficient havoc to create misery in a couple's life. They can influence all sorts of deviant behaviour if they so decide that this person is not for you.
We can rise above the influence, but let's face it, it only takes a grain of doubt to start an avalanche of mistrust. And without trust a relationship cannot succeed.
Marriage is hard, don't be fooled, there are enough curve balls and footfalls on the path of togetherness and without a strong support mechanism it is even harder. It should be about a couple working it through, but no man, or in this case, no couple is an island.
Prior to marriage, take the time to assess your future spouse's family members, friends, co-workers and pets, yes pets!
A cat/dog that doesn't like you can destroy your property and scratch/bite the dickens out of you, so don't underestimate them. You all don't have to be best friends, but at least have a civil working relationship. Let your spouse know if you pick up on any 'vibes' that would suggest animosity down the road. All of this should be hashed out before the ring goes on the finger.
Anyway, that's my time for this week, catch you all next week same time, same paper. Please take your own paper or green bags to the grocery/supermarket. Renew, re-use, recycle and save mother Earth. Follow me on Twitter @ElvaJamaica email your comments email@example.com