One of my most cherished book gifts was given to me by Senator Oluremi Tinubu at the launch of my first publication, Double Jeopardy. “How to choose a life partner” by the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya. I must have been about 21years old then and although I wondered why she was giving me such a book, I appreciated the fact that she was assuming the role of a mother and a leader, wishing to guide me in some ways before I could even think of marriage.
Shame though, I didn’t get round to finishing the book due to movements and relocations. But I remember it well enough for its many questions to ask your intending life partner. I jotted down many questions I would love to ask when I am eventually ready for marriage so when I met my husband, I tried to ask a few but he wasn’t interested in being mechanical with me. I let my many questions rest, plunging into our union blindly, trusting that I would be patient enough to live through it. My mother always said I am too patient and resilient for her liking anyway so it would come in handy in my marriage.
But there were a lot of misconceptions I brought into my marriage that I wished I had known or being tutored before marriage. The list is endless but I will minimize them to 10 things I didn’t know before marriage.
- Responsibility goals: Before I got married, I was quite independent owing to my upbringing but if I needed encouragement, guidance and financial support, I went to my father. So getting married, I didn’t know if I would largely be responsible for myself or if my husband will or if it would still be permissible to go to Dad once in a while. It was a grey area I couldn’t have asked anyone but some sort of knowledge and guidance wouldn’t have been a bad idea.
- Don’t expect your spouse to be like your father/brother or your mother/sister: We all are affected in one way or another by how we were raised, what we have been used to growing up. I read about a lady who said her father is a very funny, jovial man and he would always make her laugh. When she visited her friend’s house and saw how serious her friend’s father was, she couldn’t comprehend how a man can be too serious, missing the fun things of life. I know I had some sort of similarity expectations in my husband from where I was coming from but I quickly adapted to the fact that all men can’t be the same.
- Communication is ambiguous: It’s everywhere, communication cannot be overemphasized in any relationship. It’s the only way any one will get to understand you and help situations be better or more tolerable at least. But communication in itself has many facets, covering a large area of topics. How do you know what is safe to talk about and what’s a no-go area? Or perhaps, I want to talk about something and my partner doesn’t see certain things as necessary to be discussed. Again, perhaps beliefs and backgrounds should be carefully taken into consideration.
- Marriage does not mean happily ever after: In the case of Cinderella as is most of us in our lives, having not all enjoyed a rosy upbringing or having rich tales of our youth, we want to look forward to marriage as a means of escape from one situation into a better one. News flash, it’s not always the case. Maybe happily ever after happens in old age if perchance you were fortunate and careful enough to invest in every day of your marriage while it’s still fresh and young.
- Men will still try to get you and even more (vice versa): Yes, I knew married men may often be interested in single girls but I didn’t know that married men, single men can be interested as much in a married woman.
- Love isn’t always going to be hot and passionate: Seriously, the key to staying married is to first admitting that when all else fails, you can still live and communicate with your partner as a friend. I used to think every day of my life would be a hot and steamy love but some days are hotter than others and other days, I wake up thinking ‘what was I thinking?’
- It’s easy to become complacent in marriage: Familiarity and over-familiarity with routine can make marriage seem overrated after a few years of doing the same thing or living with the same person. It’s easy to fall guilty of constant complaining, nagging and choosing to see nothing deserving any longer in your marriage.
- Which will come first if literally true – for better or for worse?: It was a few years after I got married that I first heard the new phrase, ‘for better to stay, for worse to go’. I couldn’t believe people were now getting comfortable to own their zero level of tolerance in marriage excesses. But frankly, every marriage has its turbulent times. Whether the good times will come before the bad or bad comes before good doesn’t really matter but preparing one’s mind for either of it and having the right attitude through it is what counts.
- Husbands are not Gods, they are just humans: I grew up believing fathers are the heads of the family, hence they possess a special power to navigate and direct the family always, leading aright without stress. I’ve come to realize that both men and women have certain things in common, like we’re both human, we both cry, we can both be weak and we both need God for direction, head of the family or not. So the next time your husband errs, know that he’s only human. He may be needing your help without out-rightly asking for it.
- Children can be an excuse for faltering attention to your spouse: Women are mostly guilty of this. Once the children start coming, they tend to give more attention to the children, suffering their marriage of passion, love and attention without which the children wouldn’t have come in the first place. It, however, doesn’t mean the men don’t falter in this regard as well.
So basically, don’t go blindly all the time into any agreement without most of your questions being answered. That way, you are better prepared for what’s coming even though you cannot totally eliminate what will be.