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11Jan

Dear Elizabeth Gilbert, Me Thinks You Are Wrong

Making Love Work Is Taking Responsibility

Making Love Work Is Taking Responsibility

When I read your book Eat Pray Love, I loved it. Not because you have the greatest writing technique on earth or because I thought it was deserving of a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize for literature. I loved it for the simple fact that you told your story, your way. You shared your pain and journey with the world. Reading the first few chapters, I thought, how bold of her to look deep within and say, I am not happy with this marriage anymore and you decided to do what’s right for yourself. I admired your journey, because you were courageous and took on the unknown. While I have no knowledge of Eastern Religion or insight into the places you visited in your first book, it was fascinating to learn new things through your book. Above all, it was ironic to see an adult going through a rites of passage journey at a new junction in life.

So, when I picked up TIME magazine this weekend, dated 18 January, I was excited that you have written a follow-up, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. I was looking forward to checking it out on Amazon.  However, when I got to the interview you gave and the fact that you said, allowing same sex marriage could actually save the institution of marriage because and I quote, “What I think it would do is make marriage relevant again, in a way that it’s seeming to not be as much anymore.” You are right when you say marriage does not seem to be relevant anymore. But I disagree that allowing gay marriages is what will make it become more relevant. You have a right to that opinion and a right to voice it. However, I boldly say that you are wrong. There is nothing that says or proves marriage between gays or heterosexuals makes one more relevant than the other. Gay marriages are just as dysfunctional as heterosexual marriages given the opportunity. We are all human beings and one thing we have in common is the fact that we experience the same kind of emotions; pain, joy, sadness and every emotion you can think of.  When there is dysfunction in the mix, the reality of abuse and domestic violence respects no one.

I believe every human being has a right to be who they are and what they are. You might not agree with it but you must respect it and no one should deny you the right to be yourself. But we cannot use the argument that gay marriages make marriage more relevant as the basis on which we implement and allow same sex marriages. It is our basic human right to be who and what we are.

The media want us to believe that it is the coolest thing and the best kind of marriage there is but they don’t talk about the challenges that come after the victories. I will have you know that domestic violence takes place in gay marriages, and endures every other kind of abuse and challenge faced by marriages between straight people. Nothing makes marriage between a gay couple ‘super dupa’ different from marriage between a straight couple. Hence, for you to suggest that allowing gay marriages will make marriage relevant again is A BIG LIE, which is absurd, ludicrous and laughable and it belittles the union of marriage. Take the case of Little Britain star, Matt Lucas who ended his much publicly celebrated ‘Celebrity gay couple marriage after 18 months on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.’ The fact that he was gay did not protect him from the challenges all marriages go through.

Truth is, we are a microwave generation and I’m not talking about our ability to surf the web or make quick meals but every area of our lives. We want everything on the go. We don’t sit down anymore to think about the pros and cons of our actions or take into account that our decisions have consequences, be it good or bad. We are lazy at relationships and don’t work at them anymore. We have replaced letters with emails. Which is great and makes life easier but how long will you keep sending emails to check on a friend let alone your other half? We have replaced face-to-face conversations with phone calls. I am not saying banish phone calls, sometimes, some things are best said when are in each other’s space. We see each others faces, feel our emotions, you know, get naked though with the clothes on. And of course, if you are already married, then you can take the clothes off after the talking, makes it much more juicer.

Like Egg, Your Marraige Will Break Down If If You Don't Take Care Of It

Like An Egg, Your Marraige Will Break Down If If You Don't Take Care Of It

We want everything now, forgetting that the reason some of our parents are still together after 40 years is because they worked at it come rain or sunshine. The same way we sign a prenuptial agreement because we don’t even trust ourselves that we will make it work; is the same way we dip it low with everything and anything that has a penis or a vagina, regardless of the fact that they are married or in a relationship. We don’t know how to set boundaries and respect them anymore. We have lost respect for ourselves and all values out the window. What happened to telling the truth and when people break other people’s homes, we tell them, it is wrong.

Rather, we have a media circus that celebrates the misery when a marriage breaks down by giving low-life’s who come forward to tell the world that they slept with married men, the front page of a magazine. Divorce is granted like you are signing a bank cheque. Sex is readily available at the click of a finger or button. We no longer have any boundaries. You don’t need to be a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist to have morals. As individuals, we should all have boundaries and non-negotiables, things that we will not do because we have a conscience. I should know a man who is married or in a relationship is off limits. Same way a man should know that a woman , who is married or  in a relationship is off limits. We must learn to manage our emotions. The excuse of, we could not help it does not cut anymore

We forget that after all the acting we did during dating and courtship, the wedding celebrations, dancing into the night and that first night of great sexathon, when you only came up for breath; well if you were not disappointed, is when the real work begins. If you have never lived together, you are like two flatmates learning to share a house. The woman is the UFO, unidentified female object and the man is the UMO, unidentified male object. If you were living together before marriage, the dynamics changes whether you like it or not, this ‘living together’ thing is now for real.

We are raising a generation of kids who have lost track of the number of men and women, mum and dad have been with. Yet, they say they love us but are too selfish to look past their own needs and make an effort to create an atmosphere that helps nurture us.  So that when we grow up, we don’t repeat their mistakes. I know sometimes the breakdown of a marriage is out of our hands especially when we have given it our all. I am not for one second suggesting that you stay in an abusive relationship. Get out of it and run for your life.

Marriage does not have to be relevant because the married couple are gay or straight. Allowing or disallowing same sex marriage should make no difference to the relevancy of marriage in today’s society.  Marriage should be relevant because it is marriage, a union between two people. You took your vows, you made and entered into a covenant and allow me commercialise it, a binding contract. Why break it without an effort or a fight to resuscitate the life that has left it? Marriage in my opinion should be relevant regardless of the sexual orientation of the two people in it. And that is what we need to start doing, by taking responsibility and making our marriages work.

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16 Responses to “Dear Elizabeth Gilbert, Me Thinks You Are Wrong”

  1. Jibo! says:

    societal values decayed over time causing for family values to crumble

  2. Belinda Otas says:

    I think we just got lazy

  3. Temitayo says:

    First, I love this layout. And your opinion of the book is an interesting one. I haven’t read the book. Marriage–like anything that works–should be worked at. It’s such an irony that technology which seems to make humans closer is just really fake, not the real thing. These lines of yours say it best: “We are all human beings and one thing we have in common is the fact that we experience the same kind of emotions; pain, joy, sadness and every emotion you can think of. When there is dysfunction in the mix, the reality of abuse and domestic violence respects no one.”

  4. Belinda Otas says:

    Thanks for the comment Temi, that’s really nice of you. And thanks for the compliment on the layout.

  5. Ogo Ogbata says:

    Nice one. Although I don’t think it’s responsible enough that people simply tell their stories, they must tell stories that build up rather than destroy. Haven’t read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ however, if we applaud writers who say it’s okay to abandon one’s marriage when the going gets tough then should we be surprised when they make assertions that further demean marriage?

  6. Belinda Otas says:

    I agree with you that we should tell stories which build and not destroy. In her case, she was unhappy and didn’t want that life anymore. She also tried counselling and all that from what I remember. It has been a while since I read the book. But it was not working. Yes, she could have worked at it but not everyone thinks like that or believe in a higher source to see them through it. I don’t think leaving your marraige is right if you have not given it your all. That is jumping out of the bag with an excuse but when you know you have done everything and it isn’t working, then you do have a decision to make. Whether or not one’s marriage worked the first time is still no excuse to make assertions that further demean marriage. I mean, she is re-married now. So, she should know all about the hard work that goes into it.

  7. Leine says:

    ” We are lazy at relationships and don’t work at them anymore. We have replaced letters with emails. Which is great and makes life easier but how long will you keep sending emails to check on a friend let alone your other half? We have replaced face-to-face conversations with phone calls. I am not saying banish phone calls, sometimes, some things are best said when are in each other’s space. We see each others faces, feel our emotions, you know, get naked though with the clothes on.”

    That’s it right there, that’s what the problem is. I knew that you had to work hard at relationships, but I wasn’t even sure what that meant, the constant effort to connect with your partner. Thank you for this entry, a real epiphany for me, for my personal life as well, I haven’t learnt to do this, so in my next relationship, it will be hard to develop these habits, but I am determined to take the time and make the effort to see the other person’s face and feel their emotion, not just at the beginning of the relationship but throughout.
    Thank you (I may have to steal this quote and write it in my diary 🙂

  8. Eve says:

    I love your writing style. you kept it real, without getting so overly religious that you lost the intellectual argument. Well done!

  9. Belinda Otas says:

    Thanks Evelyn, dear. Really nice of you to say that. It was important to maintain that balance, you should see my first draft!:-)

  10. Belinda Otas says:

    Oh Leine, baby, you can have the quote. I’m very proud of you for being so open and honest. It is a journey and if it helps, I’m still learning.

  11. Ogo Ogbata says:

    “…not everyone thinks like that or believe in a higher source to see them through…”

    Perhaps those who engage in or support homosexual marriage have also ‘tried their best’ with heterosexual relationships and decided it’s not working for them? Without believing or at least acknowledging the existence of a ‘higher source’, there is no basis for the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.

  12. Belinda Otas says:

    You have a point but not everyone thinks the way you do. We live in a “Liberal World,” so we do have to acknowledge that people have an array of lens through which they see the world and dissect things.

  13. Ogo Ogbata says:

    That is my point, Belinda. People ‘see the world’ differently. Including Elizabeth Gilbert whose views you disagree with.

  14. Belinda Otas says:

    @ Ogo, then we have to learn to disagree with the different viewpoints in a respectful manner. We all have valid points but won’t always accept one or the other…

  15. Ogo Ogbata says:

    We should certainly disagree politely but we don’t ALL have valid viewpoints. In your own words to Gilbert in the article above you said, “You have a right to that opinion and a right to voice it. However, I boldly say that you are wrong.” I’m glad that you can boldly take a stand for right and wrong cos not many do in our modern PC society anymore.

    My only concern though is that often we human beings cherry pick when it comes to morality and play by double standards. If we celebrate (or make excuses for) people who have even but a little disregard for marriage then should we gasp with shock when they take that disregard to new heights/depths? Without biblical values there is no basis for the sanctity of marriage so those who don’t live by the bible will naturally say whatever they like about marriage and are free to do as they choose in my humble opinion. Likewise without using the bible as a reference point (the same bible that condemns divorce/remarriage after divorce etc), no one can make a ‘strong enough case’ for monogamy, heterosexuality and moral living generally.

  16. Belinda Otas says:

    Thanks Ogo, but if you read my comments again, I believe you will see I say, we can’t all agree but can respect thpse points raised…and if something is wrong, then say it in a way that does not lead to fire flaring up but in love…there will always be different point of views on things and we all have double standards…one man’s meat is another man’s poison…we are all hypocritical about something…that’s just part of human nature…valid points because they must feel strongly about what they are saying, same way you do about what you are saying…it would be wrong to say out loud that they are stupid after all.

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