I was at my friend’s place when she showed me a picture of her parent’s wedding. We laughed at the way they stood together in the most ridiculous attire ever. It wasn’t their choice to come out that way but that was what they could afford at that time. Their struggle story is not what I want to share now.
I have had opportunities to live with this couple who are now married for 33years and the wisdom, strength and unity that played out in many situations amazes me. Both are career driven and now that the wife has retired from her 9-5 job and all their kids are out of the university, she handles one of her husband’s flourishing businesses.
Who remembered the wedding ceremony? Who remembered that she didn’t use the best of facilities or tied the best gele?
I’m not saying you should dress shabbily for your wedding. This is my point exactly: It is foolishness to pull all of your strength in preparation for your wedding and forget it is just an event. People will dance and eat and they will return to their various homes while you will be left alone to face the reality of the new life ahead.
The wedding ceremony is just for a day but marriage is for a lifetime. When I look at courtship, I see it as an opportunity to set the foundation for a long future with your partner.
It’s fine to build a romantic connection and enjoy the butterflies, but it shouldn’t overshadow the need for serious discussions that are central to the marriage.
I’m aware there are still many unexpected issues that’ll creep up after the wedding even after knowing so much, yet getting acquainted with the basics of the ‘course content’ right before you get into the institution might just help ease some of the frictions to be encountered.
Today, I want to share some nuggets that stuck with me as I read Gray Chapman’s ‘Things I wish I knew before I got married’.
He is the author of ‘The Five Love Languages and apart from being a devoted Christian, Gray has been married for over two decades and he is a marriage counsellor. Can we go right into those nuggets?
1. Being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage. Research indicates that the average life span of the ‘in love’ obsession is two years. For some it might last a bit longer. Then we come down from the emotional high and those aspects of life that we disregard in our euphoria begin to become important.
2. Forgiveness is not a feeling. When one partner offends the other, an emotional barrier is erected between the both parties. The passing of time will never remove that barrier. Barriers are removed by sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision. However, it does not automatically restore trust, but it does open doors to the possibility that trust can be regained.
3. You can solve disagreements without arguing. Conflicts are not a sign that you have married the wrong person. They simply affirm that you are human. Conflicts have the potential of teaching us how to love, support and encourage each other.
4. Discover a healthy plan for processing your conflicts and such a plan begins with recognizing the need to listen. In marriage, it is never ‘having my way.’ It is rather discovering ‘our’ way
5. Confusion over roles is one of the most stressful aspects of contemporary marriages. In earlier generation where the husband was the provider and the wife the homemaker, there was little confusion about who would do what. However, in today’s world, where most young wives have their own careers, they expect their husbands to be majorly involved in household duties. If the two of you do not discuss and agree upon who will do what, you will find this to be a major source of conflict in the early months of marriage.
6. Your philosophy of maleness and femaleness greatly influences your expectations of marital roles. If she feels that washing dishes is a sign of masculinity or he feels embarrassed to let his friends know that he washes dishes or she feels strongly that a wife should not do all the cooking and he has no expertise in cooking, they need to negotiate an agreement before marriage. It is important to recognize these differences and seek agreement for the benefit of the relationship. If you can’t agree before marriage, what makes you think you will agree after marriage
7. Have a plan for handling money before marriage. First foundational principle of developing financial plan is to agree that after marriage, it will no longer be “my money’ or ‘your money’ but our ‘our money’. If you are not ready for this kind of unity, then you are not ready for marriage. Decide on the percentage you will save, give away and spend. You can adopt 10-10-80 rule. 10% for emergency funds, 10% give away, 80% divided among the various needs- utilities, food, payments , clothes, recreation etc. How you distribute is the decision based on the agreement of both partners.
8. Mutual sexual fulfilment is not automatic. The male and female sexuality is different. She may not want sex as much as the male does or enjoy sex as much as the male does. While men focus on intercourse, women focus on relationship. If the relationship has been fractured by harsh words or irresponsible behavior, the female may find it very hard to be interested in sex. To the wife, foreplay is more important than the actual act of intercourse itself. When one forces a particular sexual act upon one’s spouse, it ceases to be an act of love and becomes sexual abuse. True love is always seeking to bring pleasure to the spouse. During the first year of your marriage, read and discuss with each other a book on marital sex.
9. When you marry, you become part of the extended family. Your in-laws will have expectations. Each of your in-laws may have patterns of behavior that you find irritating or troublesome. Listen with a view to understanding. It does not imply that you agree with the other person’s ideas, but it does require you to treat them and their ideas with respect.
There are more nuggets I’d love to share but I’ll stop here. You can get a copy of the book from any Christian bookshop.
Let me conclude by adding two vital indispensable nuggets that I personally feel are important.
10. While it is important to plan daily prayer and bible study schedule together, build a personal relationship with God and seek your own spiritual growth. Don’t ever let your walk with God be dependent on your partner. There are days when the other person may need you to strengthen their faith. Each must pursue spiritual growth individually and then share the outflow of that grace to each other.
11. Let God build in you character as a single. Stay in God’s hand as He takes you through the fire and allows you go through certain situations that’ll groom you. While you trust him for a beautiful home where unity and love reigns, let Him work in you according to will and his good pleasure.
Beyond all experiences and general guidelines, God’s Word remains the most important factor in building a solid marital relationship. Because therein contains the wisdom for every situation and circumstance.
I end with this verse.
…And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance,
and to temperance patience and to patience godliness;and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5-8