This post is inspired by the Instagram profile of Bunmi Oduah on “things-i-wish-i-knew-before”, anytime I see a new image up on that page, I smile because I wish someone had sat me down to tell me a lot of things about marriage.
Here are 9 things I wish someone had told me before I got married, I would have been spared a lot of heartbreak.
Love is enough, I mean the right one.
I was told that love is not enough; that I would need lots of tactics and gimmicks to make the man stick. Yes, most of the counsel I got back then just rolled over me but something stuck (unconsciously) – love is not enough.
You see, everything that would make your marriage great is embedded in love and if you want to know what that love looks like, here’s a snapshot;
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
This love is enough.
Do you know why you need this love?
Because life will happen. Eventually, you will mess up, that’s because you are human. You will look at that woman that brings the sunshine into your life and in a moment of anger, you’ll wish for her to go to a place where the sun doesn’t shine. While the man that makes your world go round is making you wish heaven on him.
You will fight and maybe say some things you don’t mean. We are journeying towards perfection; you are not perfect, so don’t expect same from your spouse.
And there might be other things that would strain a marriage; interference from third parties, sickness, death in the family, loss of a job etc. This love (aka agape) is enough.
Learn to fight fairly.
Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, especially a marriage. When you get married, you are choosing to become one with someone that still has his/her own issues to deal with, issues that cause them pain but there you are, believing that this person must always be perfect in words and deeds. We believe being married to someone gives us the right to rub their weaknesses in their face, yell at them and generally be disrespectful. I mean some of us are kinder to our colleagues [and strangers] than we are to our spouses.
- Don’t yell unless there is a fire
- Don’t speak to each other in a demeaning way
- Have a safe [and funny] word that can deflate your partner’s anger
- Let the past remain in the past
- Don’t get physical with each other
- Don’t walk out [and slam the door] on your partner
Focus more on the marriage when planning for the wedding
Planning a wedding is hard work; decisions on who the best vendor is to the bridal party to what to wear and the food and the centre-piece and the colours and the…you get the gist.
In the midst of this all, it’s easy to lose sight of that which is of utmost importance – the marriage. Because after the wedding, the marriage begins and I am beginning to find out that a lot of us are unprepared.
There are serious questions that we need to ask each other; questions like,
- What does “compromise” mean to you?
- Who do you think a woman (or man) is in the home?
- What does love mean to you? (you might be shocked here)
- Have you read Eph 5 well? What does “husband love your wives” and “wives submit to your own husbands” mean to you?
- How would we manage money after marriage? Who will pay for what? What percentage of our income would be saved?
- What kind of education would our children have?
- How would household chores be divided? Or would they be outsourced?
- What’s your 5-year plan for life, work and business?
Don’t think you’re being intrusive at all; if my husband and I had trashed all these (and more) before getting married, the first two years of our marriage would not have been like a war zone.
I know your wedding day would be fantastic and the stuff dreams are made of but don’t forget that it’s just for one day.
Focus on the marriage.
You cannot change your spouse
You can only change yourself. You can threaten, nag, beg or throw tantrums, that does not mean the other person would change.
You are responsible for your responses and actions regardless of the situation at hand.
Before you get married, help yourself understand that you cannot change your spouse. When you try to force a change on someone, you would meet resistance and this can be expressed in so many ways, most of which aren’t good for a marriage.
People will only change when they see a need to.
Make time for your hobbies and passions
You can still have your hobbies and passions, you can have interests different from that of your spouse because you are a person.
You don’t have to love her football club or love his addiction to the food channel but you can and should encourage them.
You’ve had a long time to develop your ability to think and act the way you do; when you get married, you are not shedding who you are, rather you are creating a whole new union based on two individuals.
While you would certainly rub off on each other, it shouldn’t be my-way-or-the-highway kind of thing, it should be about me choosing to do what you like.
Children would change your marriage
It’s no longer a family of two, it’s now a family of three or more. Change isn’t always bad but change can be challenging and can create friction.
When a baby comes into the equation, you find your lives revolving around this tiny and helpless being, this being needs you for every single thing. This totally changes the dynamics of your relationship.
In most families, the woman is the primary caregiver and it is easy for her to pour herself into the baby and forget that her husband exists or just remain in a state of perpetual anger towards the man for not helping enough. The man-wife relationship is no longer the primary focus and having time for each other is now a distant memory.
I’ve discovered 5 major things cause conflicts when a child enters the equation:
Who does what? I think this has to do more about a state of being than doing. Let me explain. While some people think that it is about dividing up chores, and some think that it is the wife’s problem; well, I have a different opinion.
What kind of wife do you want to be or what kind of husband do you want to be?
Would be the man that loves his wife enough to get over himself and what society [and religion] has defined him to be?
Are you willing to watch your wife work herself to death just because you are the man?
I know it sounds up there but if you love as described above, chores can be handled without conflict.
When you’re sleep deprived and tired, sleep is a better option than sex. The best way to handle this is to schedule time for sex; this does not mean spontaneity is out of the equation, it just means you plan for regular sex.
Some grandparents don’t exactly understand that they are not the parents of the baby. Here you need to set boundaries and the best person to communicate that would be their own child.
Money matters a lot especially when one parent decides to take time off work to take care of the baby. Suddenly there is a change in income while expenses have gone up. My suggestion would be that you decide on income and expenses during the pregnancy so as eliminate surprises when the baby comes.
Your styles would definitely be different and it might be rooted in how you were brought up. I think you should just discuss what being a parent means to you and just agree on what you would do
When all the fighting is about a specific issue, solve the problem fast
There’s that issue that comes up every time you fight, in fact, it is the real reason for the fight. You just never seem to settle it.
It might be the effect of a bad habit or emotional baggage from childhood or previous relationships. And it is really easy to pour all the blame on your spouse but you need to know that your spouse is not crazy, he/she is a slave to that habit and to the emotional baggage. You need to help them.
You might be fighting over the fact that he comes in late everyday, while in reality, every time he comes home late, you are reminded of your father’s infidelity to your mother. You need to know what the real issue is and deal with it.
Schedule time for just the two of you
This sounds terribly unromantic, but life can happen and two people that were crazily in love barely acknowledge the existence of each other.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day affairs of life and managing the children and just forget to be husband and wife.
Create time when it would just be the two of you. Let that time be sacred, and just catch up with each other.
Never ever involve either family in your affairs
Your marriage involves the two of you, occasionally there’s a family member that has not got the memo, please do not indulge their ignorance.
When you disagree on anything, get knowledge on the issue and resolve it. Don’t think your spouse’s parent can bully them into doing what you want or yours for that matter; first, you are exposing your level of responsibility (or lack thereof) to everyone, you’re exposing your spouse and there’s also the fact that families never forget.
Long after you’ve settled the issue, they would still refer to it.
Protect your marriage by learning to keep things between the two of you and God.
What are the things you wish someone had told you before you got married?
Or if you are not married, what have you observed in the marriages of people close to you?
Please share in the comments