What I Have Learned about Marriage From Being Hit On by Married Men

This post was published on Feb 22, 2013.

Now that I’m in my late 20s, I’m starting to have more older people in my social circle. Along with that, incidents where I get hit on by married men.

Now, married guys are not my thing. Nor are guys who are attached, engaged, or in love with someone else (even if they are not attached). I’m all about monogamy; guys who are involved with someone, be it legally, physically, or emotionally would automatically be out of my consideration set. Not only would being with such guys be against my moral code, the fact that a guy can hit on me while being with another automatically eliminates him as someone I’d ever be interested in, because I’m looking for someone with strong values of honesty.

(To cheat would be to lie to and betray your partner, which is definitely not in line with honesty. And truth and authenticity are among two of my core values in life.)

So whenever married guys hit on me or try to get oddly close with me, I would put things straight. I would make it clear that I’m only looking at the relationship as a friendship and/or business relationship, and there’s nothing else I’m interested in, lest they try anything funny. (I would love to print screen such conversations and show you but I’ve deleted all of them.) I rather err on the side of caution than deal with sticky messes later on.

The Birth of a Thought

Being hit on by married men got me thinking about marriages. While I have never thought about getting married (I think about life in  a sequential fashion, and I don’t see the point of thinking about marriage when I’m not even with someone I love yet), I do think that marriage is an important milestone for many people.

I also think that in our society today, marriage continues to be synonymous with bliss, “ever after”, and the “sealing” point of one stage in life and the beginning of an issue-free life. Especially because most people see singlehood as a disease.

However, as I grow older, I keeping hearing stories of relationships in distress. Couples with irreconcilable differences. Engaged couples breaking up just before marriage. Married couples who remain married but have not been sleeping on the same bed for a while. People seeing other people behind their partners’ backs. Married people cheating on their spouses. Marriages on the rocks. Divorces. Couples breaking up after being together for an extremely long time; some of them once seen as ‘jade couples’ to model after; some of them, childhood sweethearts even. Friends’ friends getting pregnant from sleeping with married men then going for abortions, only to continue the affair thereafter.

Sunset at Elliot's Beach in Chennai

Sunset at Elliot’s Beach

Stories of Failed Relationships

Such stories have made me realize that just because someone is married or in a relationship doesn’t mean that everything is “happily ever after”. Far from it.

For example, my friend’s cousin got married several years ago. She met her husband through a dating service and they got together fairly quickly. Marriage followed soon after (within a year or two of dating), and following that, a baby.

On the surface, it seems as though everything is unfolding according to their life plans and according to the Singapore society’s expectations—get married by a certain age (mid to late 20s for the female and early 30s for the male), have a baby within two to three years of marriage, get busy with their careers while having someone—usually a maid—help with the baby, before planning for a second baby one to two years down the road.

However, the couple’s marriage is now on the rocks. Apparently, things haven’t been well for a while. The wife has been undergoing serious depression and unleashing emotional fits at everyone particularly her husband, while the husband has been drained from trying to mend the relationship. The maid is often singled out as the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong; the family has already changed over 10 maids in the span of two years.

The last I heard, the wife is insisting on a divorce, and the husband, now jaded, has acceded to the request. How about the baby, you ask? Not sure. Most likely going with the mom at this point.

Another example: A friend of mine was engaged to his high school sweetheart. He met her when they were in high school, fell in love, and got together. It seems like the relationship of everyone’s dreams, doesn’t it—being with your first love, being in a long-term relationship with him/her, and subsequently heading towards marriage. However, seven years into the relationship and right before the wedding, they broke up.

Why? Don’t know. Perhaps the relationship just wasn’t working out anymore.

These stories are among the many stories of I’ve heard or witnessed over the years, of couples whom you would have thought were heading toward the path of “ever after,” but got violently jolted out of this “fantasy” along the way.

Celes at Elliot's Beach (Chennai, India)

Me at Elliot’s Beach. And no, I was not with a married guy here.

Most Successful Relationships I’ve Seen

On the other hand, some of the most successful relationships I’ve ever seen are the couples I met when I was in Europe and U.S. in 2011. Incidentally, non-married couples with no concrete plans to get married.

At the time I knew these couples, they had been together for at least five years, some well over ten, and going strong. Between each couple was a strong understanding of each other, unspeakable camaraderie, open communication, and a deep respect for each other. Between each couple lay compatibility like I had never seen before between two individuals.

While none of the couples spoke of marriage nor had immediate marriage plans except for one (this was especially so in  Europe where marriage has little significance), these couples had some of the most conscious relationships I had seen before, including of married couples I know. It made me question the significance of marriage in a relationship.

It made me wonder: Beyond providing a stigma-free environment to raise a kid (this part I fully get), does marriage actually forward a relationship? Is it a milestone every citizen should work towards? Is it a natural milestone every couple should strive for? Will it guarantee a “happily ever after”? Of course there is never a guarantee for anything, but still…? Some questions to ponder over.

The Married Men Who Hit On Me

For the married men who approach me, I’m not one to judge. They are free to do whatever they want with whoever they want; I only see my role as to reject them if they approach me, not to judge them on some moral high ground. I disagree with their way of life, but I also know that their life is their life and everyone has the right to do what he/she wants, while biding by a certain moral code of course.

(Cheating would be a very gray area issue. IMO its not acceptable; some people might think otherwise.)

However, I can’t help but think that there’s probably something missing in these guys’ marriages if they are approaching women who are not their spouses. Beyond the typical, cop-out “men are just designed to sow their oats” answer, I believe the reason driving their infidelity is because there is something which they need/want in a relationship, be it a physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, but can’t get from their spouse or their marriage. And this leads them to seek for solace outside of their marriage.

Now, I’m not trying to justify their behavior. Neither am I trying to condone cheating or say that it’s okay—I just said that cheating is not okay in my book. I’m merely considering a possible reason why they are cheating or trying to cheat, because it’s through understanding of the problem that we can arrive at a resolution, not through finger pointing and playing the blame game.

I believe the reason why they cheat is because there is a gap that is festering in their marriage. This gap has probably been there for a while but has never been looked into. Cheating is merely a symptom, an effect, of a fundamental issue that has been plaguing the marriage/relationship.

Read: Ashley Madison: Why Cheating Is Never The Solution

The Lesson I Have Learned

Unlike how the post may sound so far, my purpose of writing this isn’t to debunk the notion of marriage nor its value.

In fact, I see merit in marriage. I see it as a beautiful union between two souls. I see it as a wonderful celebration of two people in love. I think love should be celebrated by everyone in as grandiose a fashion as possible, because it’s such a beautiful part of life. I do think that marriage should be something that one should work towards in life, if it is indeed what the person wants to have.

(While I’ve not thought about the place of marriage in my life or if I am ever going to get married, getting married to someone I love would be something that’d be nice to see happen one day, if it happens. I think it will be a beautiful day to look forward to, that’s for sure. 😀 )

Wedding dress

 Dorky trivia: I once saw this wedding dress picture while surfing for stock photography for an
article and couldn’t help but save it. Isn’t the dress beautiful?? It’d be nice if I get to wear it one day! 😉 

However, rather than obsess about getting married, getting married by a certain age, and/or getting into a relationship as soon as possible, perhaps what we should concern ourselves with are (a) whether we are being the right person for a wholesome relationship to happen (it takes two to clap) and (b) whether we are taking the right steps to meet the right person (for us).

Because when all you concern yourself with is just to married by a certain age or to find a girlfriend/boyfriend without deep consideration of what you want in a partner or whether you are emotionally ready to commit to someone, you are in effect setting yourself up for a failed marriage/relationship.

That’s because to obsess about getting married or getting into a relationship with someone when you have yet to find your compatible match is like putting the cart before the horse.

Putting the cart before the horse

Neighhhhhh! What’s wrong with this image here?

It’s not “wrong” to do so per se… it’s just… not thinking about things in the right order.

While the broadline elements (such as having a partner, getting married, having a kid, and so on) may be present if you follow such an approach and evaluate your life in a checkbox fashion, while you may be able to claim “bragging” rights in front of your peers and derive relief from saying “Oh look, I’m getting married!” or “Hey, I’m in a relationship! So stop asking me to find a girl/boyfriend!”, you will only be faced with a hollow relationship/life, because the fundamental ingredients (the people in the relationship) are not present.

And this—having the “right” ingredients, the “right” people in the relationship—is probably the most important criterion for any relationship to be a success.

On the other hand, when you become the right person—”right” meaning whatever you define as your ideal self; read Day 5 of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program on Discover Your Ideal Self—and meet someone compatible for you, everything will naturally fall into place.

Sure, you will still have to work hard at the relationship. Sure, you will still have your ups and downs in life and in the relationship. Sure, you will still face disagreements and conflicts which you have to work through with your partner.

However, these will all be problems that you will be able to work through with your partner as a couple, no matter how tough these problems may be, simply because the necessary foundations in the relationship—love for each other and fundamental compatibility in personality and values—are already in place. These relationship “big rocks” as I call them will be there to hold your relationship in place and help it soar to greatness.

*turns to look at you* And these big rocks, my angels, will be your magic bullet towards having a successful marriage or relationship in the long haul.

Let’s work hard at becoming the “right” person and meeting the “right” person, shall we? 😉 Good luck!

Some posts to get you started on being that “right” person:

Update Sep 2013: Since writing this post, I’ve found my soulmate, Ken Soh. Read our love story and how you can meet your soulmate: How to Find Your Soulmate (7-part series)

This is part of my Single & Finding Love series:

Images: Celestine Chua Pictures © Personal Excellence, Wedding dressHorse


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