A few months ago I saw someone posted on facebook a photo of Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim with his wife, Datin Seri Wan Azizah, and their three youngest daughters. It was a beautiful photo, and many men commented about how they wanted to become Dato Seri’s son-in-law, saying things like “When will I be able to call you father, Dato Seri?”.

This post is not at all related to politics, or Anwar Ibrahim, or his daughters. It’s about something that I have always wanted to write about, but haven’t gotten an idea how to start, until I read those comments.

Are these men really up to it?
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I hope I do not offend anyone, as I do not intend to do so. All I wanted to talk about is about challenges in life, and the companion we need to travel with.

You see, the divorce rates are rising, and among those marriages that are still intact, you’d wonder how many of them are truly harmonious. I believe that part of the reason is people feel frustrated as they do not get what they wanted or expected from the marriage, having been fed and supported through their lives by their parents, given everything they ever wanted. There are also some who probably could not stand the challenge that life throws at them, failing to be there for the partner when trouble comes along.

There are men who left their wives after she miscarried for the second time, or after finding out that the wives’ parents are having marital problems/health problems, and worse still, divorced their wives when they found that the wives have breast cancer (or any other illnesses), rather than being there for the wives.

“I am suffering, I have my needs too,” said some breast cancer patients’ husbands. Or later, ex-husbands.

Then there are parents who could not stand seeing their sons suffering, or facing difficulties in life. They want the best for their sons and the definition of “the best” is for him to not face any challenges. So they became unhappy, some mothers even told the sons to divorce their wives when she failed to get pregnant after two years of marriage! Some said, “My son has never failed any exams, until he met you. He was so stressed because of you,” to the daughter-in-law (these are not just Malay drama material, these are real life issues).

What hope do these men have if they marry into such a troubled family life like our ex deputy prime minister’s?

Just imagine, you met a girl, nice and pretty, you wanted to marry her. But her father has personal issues, her mother is trying hard to cope with her father’s issues on top of being unwell and ageing herself, her brothers and sisters are on the verge of breaking down because of the troubles the parents are in, when they are supposed to be growing up happily.

The family is breaking because nobody could trust the father anymore, although he was the one who raised all of them with all his love, fed them, educated them.

This girl you wanted to marry, it is likely that she is part of the reason why the family is still intact. She might be the one who have told her siblings that they should love their parents no matter what. It might be her who have supported her family financially, helped out when parents were unwell.

When you marry her, you might want your own family life, but would she be happy just leaving her family behind like that?

She’d want to be her mother’s confidante as she always was. She’d want to be there for her brothers and sisters when things become too much to bear.

She would need your full support when the father runs into problems again, she might become needy and emotional, and she would need more of your time than you’d want to give. She would need your listening ears, as difficult as it is to fit that time into your busy schedule. She might even cry further if you said the wrong things and complicate the already troubled matter.

She may not be able to join your parents in all family events, because sometimes even with a long standing issue, there might be some new problems that come along and she would want to be there for her family.

Would you let her go, even if it means not having her home-cooked meals for a few days?

Or do you think taking her away from all this, would make her happy? Would you calm her down by saying, “my parents love you, why can’t you be happy with my parents? Why should you miss your own parents when mine could give you everything?”

Her father might not be the best of man, a man with not the kindest behaviour, someone who has been labelled all sorts of things by his own family or neighbours or even the whole country. Her father might have gone to prison, and there are possibilities that he will be incarcerated again. You might believe that he is indeed a bad man, you might think that he doesn’t like you.

But he is still her father.
He is still the one who raised her with all his love, fed her, educated her, despite his own shortcomings, despite his own weaknesses to all things wrong and illegal.
He is still a big part of her past that made her the person you wanted to marry, or already married.

The moment you married her, he became your father too, and he should be treated with respect and love, like your own father.

The moment the two of you are married, her problems become yours. You can’t take that away from her because those made her the lovely person she has become. In fact, without all those troubles in life, she may not have become such a mature, amazing person that you fell in love with.

Marriage is about companionship, a friend told me. Nobody said marriage is easy. Nobody said LIFE is easy, but the journey in life becomes easier, the baggage becomes lighter when travelled with a trustworthy companion.

So, are you up for it?

Are you that trustworthy companion, or just an additional baggage that she has to carry around with her?