Marriage is expensive to maintain. It takes time, it takes creativity, it takes money, but most of all it takes more than love. Once you get married you will forever remain married, and never would you be considered single, unless of course erroneously. Marriage is a consummation and not an action – and once you board that vessel called marriage, you cannot disembark without affecting other riders e.g. children, family, friends, parents, brothers, and so on. The roaring tides of success often threaten marriages, as couples blinded by this fruitless pursuit endanger not only the vessel, but themselves and others as well.
As long as the marriage is still a ‘marriage’, the vessel will, at some point in time, inadvertently stray into stormy waters. Depending on the spouses desire to sail to safety, they can easily navigate their vessel to safer waters or sail into higher and wilder waves. Marriages that have recently experienced life changes events e.g. a newborn, a new job, a job loss, a promotion, death in the family, just about anything that affects either spouse, often face severe and destructive dark storms.
A recent survey revealed the majority of separated or divorced men blamed the wife for being argumentative and disrespectful. On the other hand, the majority of divorced wives accused husbands of not putting enough commitment into the relationship (agenzia Fides 2010). In another article by Leslie Bennetts, The Truth About American Marriages, she argued “nearly 70% of the men surveyed said they “never” think about leaving their wives, whereas nearly half of the women said they think about leaving their husbands at least occasionally–and sometimes daily” (Bennetts 2010).
I’m told there’s a small community, in a country that will remain nameless, called “Forget Marriage”. This community has one goal – forget your marriage. Husbands and wives would visit this community and consume as much alcohol as their system would hold, in a bid to forget their marriages. Sadly, after weeks of alcohol binges, most in their drunken stupor come to reality and stagger, broke, back home to the same marriage they had wanted to forget. Think about it, people who once loved each other, had children together now have grown so far apart, they are willing to brainwash themselves and forget that they were ever married!
Marriage troubles are often insignificant if proper maintenance is done on the marriage vessel. The problem though is proper vessel maintenance is not done and yet there is so much expectation from the marriage. Suffice it to say, there is hope in every marriage, and there is no one marriage better than the other. Couples owe it to each other the responsibility of bringing happiness to their marriage. If the couple treats each other with decorum and respect, that marriage will flourish. If they treated each other as they would individually want to be treated, that marriage would be fun.
The greatest challenge in marriage is when a couple measures their marriage achievements and failures with those of another. All marriages are different just as every couple is different, and comparing marriages is more like comparing oranges and lemons, so close yet so distinctly different. The moment this happens, cracks start revealing in the vessels bow, and the conversations start to change. “You don’t respect me as Jones’s wife does”,” you don’t treat me like Smith treats his wife”, and so on and so forth, and unless that broken bow is repaired by admitting it was wrong to compare the marriage to ‘Jones’ marriage, that marriage will be pursuing a completely different goal to be like the others.
Couples should not be detoured to pursue the port of a successful or a perfect marriage. It simply does not exist. How do you measure a successful or perfect marriage? What are the thresholds? Every marriage is unique, and the fact that a couple is still together in marriage, trying to make it better than it was last year, last month, last week, yesterday, is in itself success and warrants a toast. It is misleading to hear people define successful or happy marriages and putting other marriages under unnecessary pressures to be the such. Marriage is a choice, and if you are happy where you are, that is your port of success and your port of perfection.
When your marriage sails through stormy waters, take time to understand where you are and slowly and steadily navigate to safety. Sometimes that safety may be a temporary place to help you both recalculate how long you are willing to continue or whether you would rather let the marriage vessel break in the rough torrents of the ocean, as you swim to safety. Sometimes, time is the best refuge. It takes away the exhaustion and frustrations of a bedeviling journey. Start with yourself, and go through what you know. Your internal reference; did you do everything correctly, what could you have done differently, did you overstretch your reaction, were you too harsh, were you too unrealistic? Go through your personal values as honestly as you can, and make amends – Don’t be too proud not to go to your spouse and say, “I was wrong you were right and I’m sorry for this or that”. More often than not, apologies always allow your marriages vessel to go several more naughts in bliss.
However, if you marriage is abusive, it means your vessel is allowing water and you need intervention sooner than later. You cannot continue with the journey in a broken vessel. You cannot save yourself. Seek immediate help for your safety and disembark. There could be serious consequences if you fail to get help, refuse to be a statistic and admit your vessel is in danger, and you need help. Talk to a trusted friend, your best friend, your pastor and let them know what is going on. If your marriage is abusive don’t for a moment think you can fix it involve the authorities, there are far too many perverts out there and you’d rather be safe than sorry. Never justify your spouse’s abuse, never cover your spouse’s abuse, it only gets worse. The sooner the abuse stops the better it will be for both of you.
Marriage is for those who are quick to upgrade their vulnerable weak past and invest into a future of hope. Those who look out for the other and willing to outdo them in doing good, those willing to not only put their time but their very lives into the marriage. Marriage is therefore not for the weak and faint in heart. It’s for those who are willing to influence and see positive transformation in their spouse. It’s for those who are mature enough to take care of their spouse with a sincere heart of service. It’s for those who see the weakness in their spouse and still choose to work together to overcome them. It’s for those who see the empty bank account and still choose to live with their spouse.
I learnt many years ago that you can’t learn how to swim without getting your feet wet. Certainly, marriage is not the kind of thing that you play around with. The emotional ties are so deep you can easily change the life of one person overnight or severely affect the life of another with the simple use of words as weapons. What these two people bring with them to the marriage table will determine whether they are ready to fight for their marriage. If they get into marriage armed with pounds of love to last them a lifetime and bring nothing else, they will have severe challenges, for marriage cannot thrive on love alone. However, if they bring enough love with perseverance, patience, kindness and all those spices of goodness, that marriage will survive the storms. As such, couples who are not ready to invest in a marriage should not get anywhere near it.