You know how politicians and politically aware people eagerly await a new government’s 100 days in office? Publications highlighting the government’s achievements in the time frame, bearing assurances and fresh promises to silence wailing wailers flood the media. 100 days in office is usually a big deal. Since my husband is so into politics and so not into anniversaries, I decided to ignore our 3 months month-niversary and celebrate 100 days in marriage instead. Well, it didn’t quite work.
And that’s perhaps where I should start. There are several things the bride does not hear before she becomes a wife. There are many things she is outrightly not told; others she is too happy or too busy to understand. Then she gets married and after the long awaited event, her ‘eyes clear’. Sometimes, the giddy feeling lasts till the honeymoon is over, but when she returns home with her husband, reality hits.
Even when the new wife has the most understanding husband and uninterested far-away in-laws, marriage is still a huge adjustment. Everything is different, maybe not everything, but many important things. She can no longer be the lady who eats take-out on week nights or sleeps Saturday away. The state of her house is no longer dependent on her. The love of her life might forget his half-drunk coke on her freshly mopped tiles. Her favourite TV show might co-incide with his favourite team’s match. Or the in-laws might pop in while she is lighting scented candles and she morphs from sexy wife to caterer. Of all these things, the part that will daze her the most is how easily her doting darling occasionally transforms into Hitler demanding compliance and refusing to reason.
No one tells the bride that money arguments will end romantic nights. No one tells her she will feel insecure if her husband is not obviously thrilled by her meals. No one tells her she can no longer just up and decide to hang with the girls after work, that’s if the girls don’t even ‘free’ her to ‘cement’ her marriage. No one tells her she will hate him and love him all at once; that her plans might not work out and her hopes might be dashed a lot. No one tells her that in spite of all these, she will experience many moments of exhilarating joy and contentment when her husband smiles and says ‘thank you’. When family and friends comment on how well taken care of he looks, when her husband ascribes the credit to her, when she realises that there’s one person in the world who always has her back even if his eyes are glued to Merci’s feet.
So let’s talk about it. You married this man eyes wide open and you have to make it work. There is no more storming out of his house and refusing to pick his calls. His house is your house now so the best you can do is storm into the guest room if you have one. If you don’t, storm into the toilet or kitchen. The kitchen is your best bet though.
In the last 100 days, I have discovered three key things that have kept me sane, happy and in-love. First is the fact that I am still me. Yes, my last name changed, my address too, even my weekend to-do list, but I am ultimately still me and that shouldn’t change. I must ensure that I retain my drive, my dreams, and the core of my person. My values must not get lost amidst used plates or piling laundry. Annoying in-laws must not rid me of my good upbringing. My husband’s moods, actions or reactions must not eradicate my self-worth. My time with God must survive our early morning rumps or late night pillow talk. I must never get so busy being a wife that I forget to be me. If I don’t preserve my essence, one day I will burn out from trying too hard, I will look in the mirror and wonder who this is. And it will hurt more than a husband’s insult or a boss’s disdain.
Next, I realised I am not alone, my husband is adjusting too. Yes, my culture shock is degrees above his own but his life changed too. He might not be talking about it, but he sometimes misses leaving his trousers on the couch or throwing his socks on the TV divider. He loves my cooking but there are days when he just wants to chew gum and play Football Manager. Sometimes when he doesn’t talk to me about stuff: not because he wants to shut me out, he’s just really afraid of making a mistake. The realisation that his mistakes affect me and our home is often times a heavy cross to bear.
My welcome home hug is warm and nice, may be the highlight of his day but there are times when he is just not in the mood to hear the long details of how my day went. This new accountability is strange to him too. And everything is heightened by the fact that he does not understand me many times. Things tend to go from simple to complicated when he involves me so he can’t even find the words to express his feelings without getting in trouble. This realisation greatly relaxed me.
Lastly, I realised that nothing is cast in stone. There is no rule book, no Unbreakable Marriage Tenets. This is not an employment where I must abide by the office manual; this is my life and its mine to live. It’s ok to draw up new patterns, create new routines, do things in ways that won’t have occurred to my mother. The only person that needs to agree is my husband. And that’s the key in marriage as I have come to know. There is only one task- be this man’s wife, I can devise easier and more enjoyable ways to do it as long as he is adequately ‘wifed’.
Oh, there’s an addendum, it is disruptive to measure his ‘husbanding’ skills by your ‘wifing’ skills. That is the way to heartbreak and disappointment. Focus on doing your part and enjoying the dividends that come with it. Your first reward is a happy thriving husband. If you can achieve that, the other things you desire will follow. Love always gives before it thinks of taking, if your marriage won’t be frustrating, you must become a master giver of your time and your love. What if he hurts me, you ask. Well, he will hurt you as you are bound to hurt him too but love is a risk as is all of life. Hearts open, no blocks, no shields, sometimes bleeding, sometimes crying, that’s how to love. That’s how God loves.
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