Does one year of marriage make you wise? Yes it does but it’s not the conventional wisdom, it is the wisdom that leaves you more reflective and silent than assertive and confident. It’s the kind of wisdom that makes you more tolerant with your views about marriage; makes you less judgemental of other couples. The ‘aha’ moments kind of wisdom, where you begin to see your parents in you in the way you handle issues, how you react, and you realize the apple might have fallen nearer to the tree than you thought.
In one year you learn things, about yourself, about your spouse but most importantly you learn that there is nothing ordinary about two people living together in harmony, peace and love. It is beyond ordinary, it is intentional and it exposes your real values like nothing else can.
Here are some of our lessons; I hope that they encourage you whether you are in this journey or aspiring to. I understand that not everything works for everybody so feel free to pick what works for you.
Dating is but a shadow
Dating and marriage are two different worlds. I am talking of intentional dating towards marriage or courtship which is a period of getting to know someone well enough to decide to live with them the rest of your life. Dating does not prepare you for what is to come in marriage same way we can’t tell the future. Things such as job loss, wayward children, lifestyle change, weight gain and more; you simply need to have made a decision to live with your spouse through whatever comes.
Also the length of dating does not determine the strength of a marriage simply because commitment cannot be practised. Commitment in marriage is a decision and choice to dedicate yourself to your spouse. It does not come over time or with experience. It is a vow made in the beginning.
This is not to water down the importance of dating; it is just to show you its place. It is definitely vital to know the person you are dating, understand their values and more importantly seek God’s direction. Beyond that commitment takes it cause.
If you were a ‘cartoon’ when she fell in love with you, continue being one when you get married. I remember sitting next to a couple at a wedding sometime back. The MC had started calling guys to dance and only one old man dancing out of tune had gone up. The husband to this lady decided to go and join the man.
The wife was so embarrassed she literally tried to pull him back but he still went and danced with the old man. They were married only a few months then. The man had to remain himself. Am sure the lady fell in love him with all his craziness. If that changes then some dynamic in their relationship will be touched. I have learnt to just be myself and not acquire some ‘grown up’ character many are fond of.
Study the word together
One thing is for certain, and I cannot fully explain it but people who consistently and intentionally study the word of God together over time have a stronger bond. This is true of small home and church groups and it is also true of couples. When allowed, the word of God has a way of cutting deep into the hearts of men to bring out their true desires and issues to the surface in a way that nothing else can. Eventually you know your spouse better.
I can testify that a couple that pursues a personal relationship with Jesus will grow their bond stronger. Now I understand the illustration of God on top of the pyramid and husband and wife on both sides going up to Him. The closer the husband and wife get to God the shorter the distance between them hence the stronger the bond.
Do not prove your marriage right
Do not prove it wrong either. Just don’t prove it. Let me explain this. There are so many stereotypes about marriage, mostly bad and are often propagated by some radio shows, TV shows, adverts, magazines and more. You know……… men are like this, ladies are like that, a 5-year old marriage looks like this, after this number of years he becomes this, when kids come she will do this ……. blah blah blah
I have learnt not to look for those things in our marriage. I am not even expecting them. I understand changes will come but I can’t just accept everything the world says about marriage. I have to stay positive and believe that with God on our side we shall make it. Being conscious of those stereotypes only brings insecurity, hopelessness and makes marriage hard to enjoy.
Walk with others
Some of the best days in our year old marriage have been when we have met with other couples married around the same time as us. You can’t believe how encouraging it is to find out that your friends struggle too. It’s kind of a twisted comfort in misery thing but it is satisfying in a way. And the best part is seeing issues from other people’s point of view.
We open up on our struggles and failures, laugh at our crazy attempts to break free, console on unmet expectations and celebrate what we have done well. Every time there is something to take home; an encouragement, a resolve, a challenge and a release. Great company is always a plus.
Know what fills your tank
Also know what drains your tank. This is one of the lessons we learnt early in 2017. We had to make a list of things that fill our tanks and what drain them as well. What fills your tank are things that you don’t struggle doing, things that energize you, refill you and charge you. This might be going on walks, reading, sports, talking to someone particular, fellowship, devotion, prayer etc.
What drains your tank are things that deplete your energy, activities that you have to do but always leave you tired, empty and maybe even weak. This may be difficult people at work, chores, difficult relatives, ministry etc.
Basically you need to balance, you cannot have an outlet that drains more than what comes in, otherwise you will be in danger of a burnout. So you need to keep doing the activities that fill your tank even if you are doing them alone. Do not let go of hobbies and habits that fuel you.
Your spouse is your reflection
Marriage presents you with a daily mirror in the form of your spouse. Whenever you look at him/her you see who you are. Mostly the way you treat your spouse is a reflection of who you are and mostly your spouse’s reaction points to something in you. This might sound very trivial and hard to explain but think of it this way. If you perpetually accuse your wife of not respecting you, it may mean that you have some personal insecurity that needs to be dealt with.
Everything that you struggle with will eventually reflect themselves in your spouse, simply because they form part of you and you can’t help them coming out in conversation or how you do things. When people say marriage made them better people, I think they mean that by the help of their spouse they acknowledged their weaknesses and worked towards making things better. In marriage your spouse is your path to being a better person.
This also means that you need to lovingly point out your spouse’s weakness and support them towards being a better person.
Blessings as you journey towards or in marriage. May you be guided by the true light and may you enjoy it. Feel free to share and engage in the comments below. Let us build one another.