As a young girl I loved fairytales. If truth be told, I still do, especially the animated ones. And I think most ladies love fairytales; you can see that in the way we look forward to our wedding days.
A woman’s wedding day is her way of fulfilling her wish of being the princess who gets her prince charming. She looks her absolute best, makes sure everything is perfect, and then dreams of “happily ever after”.
Understandably people put so much effort, time and money into it because it is regarded as the happiest day of their lives. However, beyond the bridal showers, soirees, stag night, hen night, pre-wedding photo shots, aso-ebi,…etc that come with celebrating weddings, is a marriage which will require effort, not wishes, to sustain.
While it’s easy and straight-forward to plan a beautiful wedding event, a marriage on the other hand is not so. It is a living relationship which requires commitment, patience and love for it to thrive. If you don’t understand this, it is easy to become frustrated.
I read a comment on this site sometime ago from someone who said, “I love weddings, but hate marriage.” And I think many of us go into marriage unprepared for what it entails and end up frustrated after a few months when “honey boo” is no longer the same person. Somehow many people expect that the joy they felt on their wedding day will continue into their marriage by default. Sadly this is not the case, as attested to by the frequency of short-lived marriages we read about.
Nothing is more frustrating in life than an unhappy marriage; it affects everything you do. It’s no wonder that people are quick to get a divorce when their marriage becomes unbearable. But marriage is a truly wonderful institution, it is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. So before you say “I do” to that wonderful person in your life, you might want to think of the following:
Have realistic expectations
You never really know your partner until you get married. In marriage all those faults you overlooked during courtship, become glaringly and painfully obvious. It is very easy to become preoccupied with them and neglect the wonderful traits that attracted you to this person in the first place. It helps to be loving, forgiving and patient, knowing that you too have faults.
Men and women are very different
Contrary to what some feminists believe, men and women are different and there is scientific evidence for this. These differences are not to make us competitive, but to complement each other. Don’t expect your partner to like what you like, instead cater to their unique needs. I know most men love being respected as the leader and protector of the family. A wise woman will regularly massage her husband’s ego and make him feel like he is a king. Ladies on the other hand are big on emotional stuff. A wise husband who wants a happy home will regularly cater to the emotional needs of his wife, paying her compliments, and making her feel like a queen. In addition, just because your spouse does things differently doesn’t mean he or she is wrong. See it as an opportunity to learn something new, remember 2+7=9, so also is 4+5=9.
This seems to be the common culprit in most divorces. Communication does not mean speaking louder or longer, but being able to convey a message. Unfortunately because we are different, we may pass on or receive a message differently from the way it was intended, especially if it is a complaint. It is not wise to stop speaking altogether, or only speaking what your spouse wants to hear; that will only build up resentment. One way to avoid that is by writing your thoughts through emails, text messages, notes, etc to your partner. The message is to let your partner know how you feel, but also let them know how much you love them and want things to get better. This will provide clarity without the interference of bad body language. I recommend the “Love Letter” technique developed by John Gray, author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique, please adapt it to suit your own unique situation.
Don’t expect your spouse to fulfil you
I’ve heard people say they are looking for a man/woman who will make them feel a certain way. Sorry to disappoint you, no mortal has the ability to satisfy you or make you feel good consistently. They might do that initially, but after a while, because they too are human, they will not be able to keep up. It’s unfair to expect your wife or husband to be your messiah all the time. Please take personal responsibility for your happiness.
Marriage is not all about feelings, but about commitment
Dating/courtship is usually a period of whirlwind romance, where you couldn’t do without each other. But in marriage, those intense feelings will not always be there. What will sustain it is the commitment you vowed to each other in the presence of God and family. Feelings are like a yo-yo, up one minute, down the other. If you give in to your feelings all the time, it is just a matter of time before your marriage hits the rocks. Make your mind to be in it for the long haul, give it your best shot, see the best in your spouse, and before long those warm feelings will return.
Leave your baggage behind
Deal with any unresolved painful issues in your past, otherwise you may unconsciously punish your husband or wife for the sins of others. Forget about your ex, forget about what your father did to your mother or what your uncle’s wife did to him. Do not compare your spouse with another person’s spouse. Your spouse is unique just as you are and so is your marriage.
Never stop Learning to be a better spouse
Read books, articles and tips but especially read your spouse’s reactions to the things he/she likes. If you are religious, apply religious admonition to your marriage, not always what the society or your friends say. Our society or friends do not always get it right, but religious admonitions were inspired by God to help marriages. No matter how ‘old school’ or unpopular they may be, they usually work. Besides if one honours God by obeying these admonitions, I think He honours that person in return.
Take care of yourself
Marriage can be demanding especially when there are kids. It’s very easy for ladies especially to neglect themselves while caring for the rest of the family. Try to take out some “Me Time” and pamper yourself. Remember you can’t give what you don’t have. If you are unhappy, stressed out and resentful, you will unconsciously reflect it on those closest and dearest to you – your family.
I am by no means an expert on marriage, in fact I don’t think anyone really is. It’s been said that marriage is an institution one never graduates from, because one is always learning. However, some principles seem to work regardless of the people involved. Please feel free to add other tips.
Have a love-filled month!
Photo Credit: 123rf.com
Theresa Omoronyia is a trained business analyst and has degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. She lives with her husband and son. Theresa enjoys being with people and her passion is to help those who are hurting. Please visit her blog for inspiration and motivation at http://thesisterskeeper.blogspot.co.uk