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Learning new lessons

My involvement with Zhenzhen has come to a close. By the time I was ready to get into a relationship with her, she had already moved on. She had her misgivings about it after all the time of messing around, as I’d hurt her by keeping my distance. She had also met another man who, the first time they met, asked her to marry him. She said to him she’d think about it. Her ‘thinking about it’ was talking about it with me, and potentially playing one person off against the other. I wasn’t interested in marrying her though, preferring to actually take the time to get to know someone rather than asking them to marry me the first time I met them.

But marriage was important to her – because she was a student here, and her parents were paying for her life over here, and so she felt obligated to them, and they wanted her to get married before she was 24 and she was currently 22 and reaching ‘old age’. So she succumbed to the pressures of her culture and got engaged to the other guy (a kiwi in Christchurch, south island).

She apparently felt very strongly for me (I couldn’t call it love) but was hurt by my actions at keeping a distance, when she wanted to be close, and because of her hurt she felt she couldn’t trust me to be ‘stable’ with her. Understandable. But I was hurt at her own actions at choosing marriage with someone she hardly knew and didn’t love, rather than continue getting to know me and re-kindling the trust.

This coming weekend she’s moving to Chch to be the ‘good little wife’. Two desperate people coming together. Her, desperate to be married and thus save hers and her parents’ face, and him, for being a western man asking a beautiful asian girl to marry him on their first date.

I know that every person that comes into our life in some kind of major way bring us a lesson – or lots of them! I think I know what my lesson was in this case.

For most of my life I’ve been against marriage because of how my parents were. Mum got pregnant after a one-night stand, so dad ‘did the right thing’ and they got married. However, mum was extremely unhappy from that point on. She felt that if she hadn’t gotten pregnant to my dad that she would have had a better life with another man she was interested in at the time. So as the first-born, I was the one that received blame from my mother for her unhappiness throughout my childhood. There wasn’t much love in our family (I have two brothers, one 4 years younger than me and the other 6 years younger), as it seemed that mum’s unhappiness was only compounded by the extra children.

I know that they did the best that they could – they did their ‘duty’ as parents to bring us up right, and to provide for us all the things that children need and want. However, what they didn’t give us was love. They had no love for each other – how could they love their children?

So I grew up with a very strong attitude of being anti-marriage. It was a bad thing, I thought, and that feeling was only reinforced by so many divorces that happen in society. I felt that marriages were religious ceremonies of bondage that do nothing to promote happiness between a couple, and instead promote the power of the church over the lives of those people.

I had the idea that I didn’t need the marriage ceremony or certificate to prove I loved someone. Unlike my parents, I learnt to express love and honesty, because I didn’t want to be what my parents were. I wanted to be someone who could love and be loved. So while I’ve had a lot to give the partners I’ve had in my life, I didn’t have marriage in my plans.

I was engaged to someone when I came to NZ in mid-2000. But I was engaged because I thought that I would spend the rest of my life with that person and engagement and marriage was something that THEY wanted. I gave in to their expectations, even though I was against it, because I wanted to make them happy (at the expense of my own happiness). They were the ones who introduced the subject, talked me into it, and even bought the engagement ring. They were desperate to get married, and I was the man willing to give in to their desperate need. However, it turned out they had Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental illness which only became diagnosed after I ended up leaving her. We had been together for 5 months, and engaged for 4 months. Her extreme and ‘insane’ reactions to me leaving her only helped me believe that I should never try to get married to anyone.

And so we come back to Zhenzhen and what I’ve come to realise about myself, life and being with someone special.

I realised that by being dead-set against marriage, I was closing the door to a lot of potential happiness in my life.

I realised that the unhappiness between my parents due to a bad marriage didn’t need to apply to everyone or myself.

I realised that a failed engagement with a mad woman didn’t mean all fiance’s would become mad if an engagement failed.

I realised that my anti-religious stance in life, which also helped fuel my anti-marriage attitude, wasn’t relevent because you can have non-religious marriage ceremonies.

I realised that if I wanted to be with someone special in my life, that getting married was something that just might be a good thing.

I realised that after almost having and then losing Zhenzhen because of the barriers I put up and then my disagreement with marriage, that I didn’t want to go through that again. I felt like I had someone wonderful in the palm of my hand and I let her slip away from me by my own actions, rather than by circumstances. I know that she wasn’t right for me in the end, because of her own desperate need to get married, but it made me understand more about myself and what I want.

I realised that I’m willing to get married to the right woman, but there has to be a ‘qualifying period’. It’s probably quite normal, I guess, but I’d have to be with her for at least 2 years before I’d agree to marriage. However, the way I figure it, if she wants to get married and I’m still very happy with our relationship after that period of time, then I’d be happy to commit to a future together in a formal (non-religious) ceremony.

I realised I needed the failure of Zhenzhen in my life in order to grow even further into my future.

I’m sure you knew that I don’t do simple stories about events – I just have to talk about what they meant to me. I hope it’s been as interesting for you as it’s been for me to write it for you.

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