In the movies and romance novels, after the boy and girl meet and fall in love they always live happily ever after. Both parties seem to devote all their energy into finding each other, crossing hurdles put before them by family and even friends in other to end up together.
To be candid, in real life, two people who are in love may have to overcome a lot of obstacles to be together. Sometimes, the parents may say they do not want the marriage to happen. It may be because they see something that you don’t, but at other times their reasons may be selfish. In the later instance, you may choose to stand your ground and hold on to your decision as to who you want to end up with.
Let us rewind a little to a point that some people even find more difficult to manage: Finding a mate. Well, unlike In the movies, finding a mate may pose a level of difficulty for most people. People who decide to be selective may have at the back of their mind the type of person they want to spend the rest of their life with in terms of physical characteristics and temparament. If one is fortunate, one will find exactly what one is looking for, at other times, one may discover that ones requirements are simply impossible to find and one will be forced to settle.
So after the congratulations and calls of happy married life have faded and the gifts have all been opened and put away, there is the big matter of living daily with someone who you believe you have come to know during the months and years of courtship but who you may soon discover, you do not really know.
Marriage is no child’s play and people who are committed to staying in their marriage often discover that marriage is a whole lot harder than courtship. If you think you went through hell during courtship, expect hell and high water in marriage. If there is a flaw which you felt was just a little thing during courtship, expect that it will grow four fold in marriage. I will always tell my unmarried friends, if there is something he or she is doing now which you really cannot stand but you are trying to manage, never make the mistake of believing it will disappear after marriage. People you think you know change after marriage. It is a fact of life. There is something about waking up everyday with someone that amplifies little flaws.
Another honest truth: it is near impossible to find out everything about your partner during courtship. It is very possible to strive to be the perfect partner during courtship, but it may not be possible to continue with this routine after marriage.
Let’s take this as an example: Let’s say a guy is dating a lady who likes to keep everywhere tidy. Each time she visits, he does his best to make the house presentable. She may come in sometimes and meet the house in a not perfect condition, but she writes it off as one of those things. How will she feel when after marriage she discovers he has no interests in keeping the house clean at all, will not pick up after himself and will leave his plates unwashed after eating?
And what if before marriage, this lady was slim, just the right size the man wants and he takes delight in showing her off. Then after she has one kid, she gets so bloated and loses that shape that keeps the man happy when he sees her. What is more, she doesnt even seem to care how the man feels about it!
You will discover in marriage how little grievances, when allowed to fester, can lead to a total breakdown of the relationship. Let me share an illustration which, I believe, I first read in Covey’s ‘Seven Habits’. Marriage can be compared to opening a bank account. Of course, there is a minimum balance to opening an account. Even if the account is opened at zero, you are expected to grow it. So each day, you make a deposit or a withdrawal. To keep that account (read marriage) going you must strive to always keep the credit side higher than the debit side. If your account begins to bleed then disaster is in the air. So you must work at putting something, on a daily basis, into your marriage that will.contribute to the growth of the love you both share.
Let me share also an advice I got from a couple who have lived together for over four decades. Do not sleep anyday without resolving any differences, no matter how minor they may be, which you had during the day and then pray together before you sleep. It will take the highest form of hypocrisy to hold hands and pray with someone who you hold some thing against.
I told a married friend of mine recently, they just had a baby actually, how they must never allow the coming of children to stop them from having regular ‘us’ times. I always suggest a weekly date. It could be spent taking a walk, watching a movie, having dinner or lunch together or sharing in some other fun activity as long as it is done together. Couples who do things together, stay together.
As my friend Efe wisely put it, beware of being husband (or wife) zoned. You know that routine drudgery of being or doing what society expects of you. The intimacy in marriage is not just about having sex but being friends, talkmates, sharing, caring, being one in thought and in purpose and doing everything in your power to ensure that no chasm is created between you.
And here’s the thing: if your happily ever after isn’t going as you envisaged, you can do something about it. After all even a dormant account can be reactivated.