I have been married almost eleven years and counting. Do you realize how long that is in dog years? Lol, all jokes aside, marriage is W-O-R-K. In the beginning my husband and I were both so goo goo gah gah for each other and then careers and our three children eclipsed some of the honeymoon feelings. Despite the horrible rate of marriage longevity these days, I will offer a few tips for those married and those who desire to be married. There is hope friends.
Tip #1 – Your partner you dated in many instances, will not be the person you married.
During the dating stage, both partners are putting their best face forward. It’s a time for wooing. Once married there begins a new phase of discovery of how your partner behaves daily. A key scripture on love is patience. You must learn to exercise this virtue during those moments you find a habit or behavior by your partner unattractive or offensive. Talk to your spouse on what you’re not happy about and look for ways to remedy it together. If it’s something you can learn to live with, then do so. As an example, one thing my husband has the habit of doing is leaving toothpicks just about anywhere. In the beginning it bugged me so much and then I thought to myself, “Is this worth picking a fight about?” Instead of complaining, I simply picked up said toothpicks after him. It sounds silly but trust me when I say you must learn to distinguish what issues are worth bringing attention to when it comes to marriage. Now if my husband were to be out of the house much of the time, that would warrant serious discussion. Learn to decipher what is important to maintain harmony in the relationship.
Tip #2 – You and your partner will hold different outlooks and philosophies on life.
For marriage unity, practice unity in the essentials and liberty in the non-essentials. For marriage unity, transparency, openness and trust are important, the essentials. Listen first before being in a rush to speak. My husband holds uber conservative outlooks and while I agree with him on some conservative views, I am more independent, a non-essential. Despite such differences, it doesn’t stop us from agreeing to peaceably disagree.
Tip #3 – Do not usurp your husband’s positional authority.
Before I get weird looks, the above statement is not about making a woman feel less. I am a traditionalist and a feminist and yes, I can be both. My reference is from the Bible and God, the Creator, is a God of order. From a spiritual point of view a man serves as positional head of the home. Unfortunately, some people give misconstrued doctrine to connote that a man can act any way in his house for the simple fact of him being male. This is nonsense and utter balderdash. If a man does not love, respect and cherish his wife, does not guide and love his children, he should not be entitled to be leader of the home. Though divorce would be an absolute last resort, no woman should take constant trash (ie infidelity, abuse of any kind) from a man. I look at a man’s success in life based on how his wife and children view him. A man may hold a positional authority, but you darling, hold the power.
Tip #4 – Set boundaries for others, especially extended family to understand.
One of the biggest challenges in marriage is extended family. In African marriages the extended family system is a large part of the culture’s orientation. Family members must be made aware that your marriage is between you and your husband, not them included. I am not of a fan of the African verbiage “our wife.” The wife is not community property. If you are married, you belong to your husband and your husband belongs to you. Set healthy boundaries with extended family when it comes to matters (ie financial, family planning, how long a loved one stays in your house) that should be considered private to you and your husband. As a woman, you are the manager of your home and no one (not even your husband’s mother) has a right to usurp that positional authority that you are designated. Later, I will write an article on the pros and cons of an extended family culture orientation. Have you checked out my previous article and how to tactfully deal with your mother-in-law? Check it out here.
Tip #5 – Take care of yourself.
Before I got married, I took care of myself. After marriage, I learned even more, how important it is to take care of myself. Ladies LOOK GOOD for yourself first and your husband will think twice about doing anything stupid. After I had my three kids, I had let myself go. I was very down during a tough period of my married life. And then I woke from my slumber. Ladies, get your nails done, get a good sew-in, get you some Fenty cosmetics and dress to kill. Also, keep in good physical shape. I work out about six days a week. Let your husband recognize that the wooing continues even in marriage. You must learn to love yourself and I guarantee your man will sit up and think twice.
Tip #6 – Bring out the best in each other.
Finally, find ways to surprise and bring out the best in your partner. Show them that you care. A main reason why marriages fail is lack of attention. It’s easy for a marriage to be caught up in work routines, kids’ schedules and then you both find yourself living like roommates. Plan date nights, send more loving texts, plan a mini getaway somewhere, or give a gift to your spouse when it’s not a holiday, anniversary or birthday. Hope these tips helps! More to come later!
– Dr. Chisom Unegbu