VIEWS FROM THE MANDEM
Opening words from Jenna…
In part 4 of the #ViewsFromTheMandem series, we take a deeper look into The Truth about Marriage from a married man’s perspective. I know we are so used to hearing women share their views on marriage, but I thought it would be a good idea to do something a little different.
Believe it or not but marriage seems to be a pretty popular topic amongst us 20 somethings, especially us women. Every other day bellanaija politely reminds us what our ages mates are doing in the marriage department, leaving many feeling hopelessly and wondering “when will it be my turn”. If that is you or someone that you might know, I encourage you both to abort mission now, now, now. Marriage is not a road that you should wish to travel along before your time.
In all honesty, I think marriage has become extremely glamorised by social media. It seems like more people are concerned with their wedding pictures going viral oppose to building a long-lasting sustaining union. There are a number of people out there who have bruk their necks to get married to only later find themselves in an unhappy partnership they had no business entering in the first place.
If you’re already married, on the way to getting married or have the desire too I hope that this post might teach you a thing or two, enjoy and please don’t forget to share.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT MARRIAGE?
In May, I’ll be celebrating 4 years of marriage. I can tell you first hand that marriage is not a destination, it is a new road of higher responsibility. When my wife and I were still courting, I had all these large expectations in my head. I thought after 5 years of being in a relationship together, marriage would only solidify the bond we’ve built over time, we’d click immediately, oozing chemistry and be the example of love that everybody would want to emulate.
I can tell you that after 4 years, we are still working on it. I’m not saying our marriage is failing or we are unhappy, if anything, with each new day we are learning more of one another and growing together in love.
This is not to say our dreams and expectations in a marriage are not valid, it is just more complicated than most people anticipate. Our dreams and the high expectations we have of married life does not come because we’re entitled to it. Everyone I’ve come across that’s married is still working on their marriage. Whether they are 2 years or 20 years in. I see a lot of married couples on YouTube and Instagram the majority only showing the highlights of their marriage.
When I look through the comments, I see things like ‘I hope to have a marriage like yours’. It’s convenient to aspire to want other people’s relationships on social media and covet them. What those clips of videos and adorable photos do not show you is the hard work that goes into building a solid marriage once the camera stops rolling.
Before saying ‘”I DO” I prepared for my marriage. I sought advice from experienced married people, I read books and had pre-marital counselling.
With that knowledge and love, I still roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty to build the marriage I desire. One thing I’ve learnt about marriage is that it exposes us, it exposes our weaknesses and different so we have to love each other out of choice. Love based on feelings will eventually fail in marriage, From my experience and speaking with other married people, this is where the reality of marriage begins. How do we live in harmony with someone that does things differently?
Being cute together does not guarantee a happy marriage, neither does a happy courtship. Loving someone does not necessarily mean you can live with them. Which explains why the divorce rate is so high.
So here are a few gems that have helped my marriage so far:
ACCEPTING YOUR DIFFERENCES
When dating or in courtship, love and sex can be blinding. We tend to only see the best versions of our partners. In a marriage, differences and flaws are exposed and magnified. I dated my wife for 5 years, I’d known her and her family since I was a teenager, and we share the same religious beliefs and speak the same Nigerian language. Yet our differences were an issue only after we got married.
I felt she was too outspoken, she thought I was too laid back. Little differences like these caused many silly little arguments. Those constant arguments disrupted our bond, there were moments where we lived like strangers in the house.
Our solution was acceptance. Over time we’ve now learnt to accept one another’s flaws and differences. I mean she still complains about me being messy but it’s different. We understand each other better and this has improved our relationship and our chemistry together.
BECOMING AN EXPERT FORGIVER
In marriage, there will be arguments and disagreements. Your partner regardless of how perfect they may seem now will offend you and you will do the same. The only way to create a happy home is to become expert forgivers.
I knew this before I got married and thought it was an easy task. I was completely wrong! Having to tell someone over and over to stop doing something is mad frustrating, but you have to forgive each time. You are both from different homes and as a result, have different habits. Old habits die hard.
I struggled with this until probably the turn of the year because I realised how much damage I was causing my marriage. I mean I forgave my wife eventually but it took me time, especially because I was forgiving her for the same things.
I’d admit here and now, I struggle to let offences go and only want to discuss or resolve it when I’m ready. It is extremely difficult and uncomfortable to have a marriage when there’s conflict hanging in the air, the makes the house really tense. My wife – bless her, has been understanding in that regard.
At the end of last year, we had our marriage appraisal, as we do every year. We both commit to something that will help to improve our marriage. My commitment was to make sure I express my feelings when I’m offended, so we can work it out and move on quickly. Being able to resolve conflict quickly means we could get on with being married.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
I always say that marriage is the ultimate team sport, there is no place for personal egos and pride. The moment one person adopts a single mind’s attitude in marriage – it’s my life, I can do whatever I want, when I want and how I want, you’ve started losing in the game.
The other point about being a team player in marriage is pushing one another toward achieving greatness and celebrating each other’s successes. Marriage is not a competition, there’s no I in team. If one person wins, the marriage wins.
Part of being a team player is playing roles necessary to make a happy marriage. I still see a number of African men insist that the wife must cook and clean. There will be times you have to play a role even if you don’t feel it is ideal. It’s a team effort, the key thing is that the marriage wins and not your ego.
SELF LOVE AND DEVELOPMENT
Marriage is overwhelming because we are required to keep on giving. It’s fun in the beginning. But after a few years in, it can become draining constantly giving time, emotions and attention.
I love my wife dearly but sometimes when I get home after work, I don’t want to talk about how my day went or listen to her work colleagues’ drama. But giving her my all is part of my commitment to her so I have to honour it.
My point is, it important to take time out to love on ourselves. We should not get to the point where we’re so drained and we have nothing left in our tank to give. Catch up with old friends, go on a girl/ boys’ holiday. Do the things we enjoy, things that bring us peace and serenity. So that we are replenished and can go back to be the best we can be to our spouse.
Also, self-development is key. We have to keep pushing ourselves to be better in every aspect. The quality of any marriage is made up of the people in it. The better we are as individuals, the better the quality of our marriage will be.
UNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGES
Typically when we get married, we simply love based on what we see around us growing up. My wife preferred physical touch; holding hands and cuddles. I was not used to that. I was busy using Words of Affirmation but it was not having the desired effect. I had to make adjustments and started loving the way that works best for her.
It’s convenient to love our spouse the way we find it comfortable. To get the right result, we have to learn to love them the way they need to be loved. Love languages are also always changing so it is important to always communicate how we prefer to be loved.
I would like to highlight that to reap the benefits of marriage and live out your best married life, we have to be consistent in the work we put in. Every day, we have to consciously make decisions and take actions that better our marriage. The reality is that not everyone that says ‘I do’ is ready for this. Some want the happily ever after without the responsibility.
Marriage is not a destination. It is a new level of responsibility. We need all the experience we’ve gathered whilst courting and much more to make it work and experience the value it adds to our life journey.
A Husband, A Father & Writer who uses his platform to shed light on the ups and downs of Dating & Relationships in today’s society. To read more from Josh, connect with him over at Joshlovetalk.com.
Please note this post is part of the ‘Views From The Mandem series’ to catch up with the series click the links below