Building a marriage is not an easy task and one might be deceived in believing that it is. In order to build a very strong and lasting relationship and ultimately marriage that can withstand even the toughest storms, one needs to have a few things in place in the very early stages of one’s relationship and marriage.
For a marriage to succeed, it has to be built on a rock solid foundation. If not, it will inevitably be on shaky ground, meaning that it will not be able to withstand all the storms that are normally experienced in marriages. We need to understand fully, what marriage foundation really means. It encompasses the following, which are by no means exhaustive:
- Love (non negotiable requirement – more like concrete)
- Trust (another non negotiable requirement – more like water and cement to build)
- Forgiveness (this can be learnt if lacking)
- Growth (EQ/IQ/SQ)
There should not be any unrealistic expectations in marriage, but having expectations is unavoidable. However, these must be discussed beforehand, so that couples are both on the same page regarding what each one expects of the other. Compromises should be reached, if some expectations seem to be unreasonable or belong in the 18th Century, particularly regarding all matters fiscal.
Let’s unbundle a few elements that determine the depth of love in relationships and marriage.
- Loving a person deeply means that we accept every aspect about them even those things that we do not particularly like. We need to be mindful that we all have character traits as well as bad habits, which our spouses might not particularly like, but because they love us, you will get to know which of those you might need to alter. Most of the time, these are changes which are immaterial, but because of having grown up with such habits, we normally view them as such a huge part of our lives, such that we never even think of detaching ourselves from them. That being said, most bad habits can be corrected, if you truly love the person you are sharing your space with.
- One example to mention is, if parents neglect teaching their children even the simplest of things while growing up, like table manners for example or proper social etiquette or to treat others as they would like to be treated. It will surely be difficult to try and teach a grown man or woman something which they should have been taught by their own parents.
- I’m not referring to the intrinsic character of a person which, before one says, “I do”, one should have made it a point that they are really comfortable with those character traits, as chances of them changing in marriage are highly unlikely.
- When raising kids, parents need to be mindful of the fact that their children will not stay with them forever but, they will share their lives as adults, with other people’s adult children who, would be expecting fully grown and mature individuals, not overgrown children.
TAKING ON THE BEST AND THE WORST:-
– Granted, when one gets married, we do not only take on the good stuff about a person but, we take on the bad stuff about them too. With this point, I’m not referring to trivial but equally vital issues like the ones intimated above of social etiquette and the like.
However, I’m talking about particularly serious stuff of anger issues, attachment and/or dependency issues, hatefulness, vengefulness and other deeply rooted aspects that make the core character of a person. They say if you’d like to see the true character of a person, you need to watch how they treat their inferiors or subordinates or those who can do nothing for them or, you need to watch how they handle stressful situations and how they behave when there is either lack or abundance of money. I agree with them…, whoever they are!
– We need to remember that some of those inherent traits emanate from serious curses, which might have been passed on from generation to generation. So, we need to seek help urgently, if there is any chance of having a happy home, particularly if we hadn’t realized any of those bad traits while still in the dating phase. Some people are good at hiding their true self, and certain things can really catch you off-guard, particularly if all you ever did was to merely look on the surface. While dating, we normally neglect to listen to our inner voices when they issue counsel about a person and choose to concentrate on some of the following instead:-
A charismatic, well-built and super sexy man, who earns a six-figure income or who possesses wealth, drives the most expensive cars or has the greatest body to put the word “debonair” to shame; or
A very beautiful woman, whose got a figure of a supermodel or whose teeth can never even be likened to the colour white as white itself might hide in shame!
Well…, a humorous analogy I know, but I think you catch my drift.
COMMUNICATION & CONFLICT HANDLING:–
– Children throw tantrums when they are upset. That’s to be expected…, they are acting their age. Adults however should be able to sit down and talk. If you feel that you do not wish to talk after some kind of conflict with your mate, you should still be able to communicate that part at least. Remember to keep your nick names or sweet names you use to address each other, even when you’re angry. That way, your mate will know that even though you are quarreling at that stage, the love is still there somewhere. You could try… “Love, Babe, Sweetheart…” or whatever you call him or her…, “Please give me some space, we will talk later. I am upset with you right now, so please leave me alone for a while.”
Then you retreat to your “little corner”. This exercise, even if it’s for an hour, gives you ample time to digest whatever it is you’re actually fighting about and to bring some kind of perspective.
- Under no circumstances should you drive out of the house, in a fit of rage. As we are all no doubt aware, an angry person is a dangerous person on the road behind the wheel…, to himself and to those around him, who have absolutely nothing to do with his/her situation.
- Secondly, if you storm out of the house in that state, you run the risk of landing at a place you should not even think of landing at. Keep in mind that love is one of many of the devil’s “pet hates”, because it emanates from a very good place, buried deep within our souls. So, as soon as he can spot an opening to pounce and take advantage of your vulnerable moment, he will show you no mercy! He will devour you so fast; you’ll wake up with amnesia, wondering how you got to that place that fast. He might attempt to “comfort” you by showing you that ex that never got over you or the ex that he had used countless times to break up your current relationship or marriage and had failed every time because you had been stronger then.
- Bear in mind that once you’re outside of your matrimonial home in that vexed state, you’re virtually powerless and without any armour whatsoever. So, next time you wish to run out of the house while angry with your mate, retreat to another room instead. If you still need to put some distance between the two of you, you might want to elect going to the gym for example…, after an hour at least. That way, even if you’d still be upset, the anger or pain wouldn’t be as raw as it was an hour prior.
- Of equal importance, is to refrain from contacting everyone who cares to listen about your marital woes immediately after a major disagreement with your mate or spouse, particularly friends and family. Remember that when you’re angry, it becomes difficult to guard your tongue.
Anything you tell your “people” about your spouse will be taken as fact, even if you might have been the unreasonable one at the time. The fact is that, your family and real friends (emphasis on real) love you very much, so it will also pain them to hear you sob or to get a sense that the one you’re staying with is the cause of your unhappiness. Once you two have forgiven each other, they might not have done so and their relationship with your better half might never be the same again. They might even be angry with you for staying on, in what you have painted as an unbearable relationship.
They might not even entertain the possibility that you might have perhaps exaggerated a bit or used “wrong” words when you were grousing, to describe what was going on at that time.
I might add that the above does not include abuse of any kind for which, help should be sought as soon as possible in such circumstances.
YOUR OWN JOURNEY:-
- Bear in mind that, you are on your own journey as a couple…, you and your spouse. No one, not even your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues or acquaintances should have that opening to interfere in your marriage, irrespective of what you might be going through at any given time. There are many marriages today, which have ended in divorce because couples never set clear boundaries in the initial stages.
RESPECT EACH OTHER
- Remember that your spouse is not your slave, nor is she/he your subject. You must therefore, at all times, treat each other with the utmost respect, irrespective of whether you are upset with each other or not. This is why a proper amount of time to learn about a person is important prior to taking that huge plunge.
- The most important clue as mentioned above, is to observe how he or she behaves when under pressure for example, as this is the time when the true character of a person emerges. If you’ve seen a character trait you don’t like while still dating and yet you still wish to proceed to marry them, do not ever think that marriage will change that trait because it is entrenched. He or she might hide it for some time but it will always come to the fore, once the pressures of marriage get to them. You have a right to choose who you want to be with so take your time during the dating phase.
- Perhaps we should ask ourselves the following questions while we ponder on the meaning and depth of the word “LOVE”
When you say you love a person, what exactly is it that you love about them? Will you continue loving them even if they may lose the things that attracted you to them initially?
Ladies, Should your spouse lose his job, money and ability to provide at some point, would you still love him and continue to help him get back on track? What if he constantly beats himself up for all this and becomes depressed and impossible to live with because of having lost his job, believing that you might see them as inadequate? Would you pack your bags and go or, would you go down on your knees and pray, seeking God’s face, the one who is the true Architect of the institution of marriage?
What if he is no longer able to work his magic in the bedroom but, you constantly feel the heat? Would you branch outside or continue praying or would you be able to give the physical intimacy up as you remember the vows you took?
My answer to all those questions above is simple. This is when you would need to start interrogating your inner self seriously; asking him or her, what the vows you took actually meant.
In sickness and in health, for rich or poor, for better or worse, till death do us part.
These are not just words. They are deep and should not be uttered without thinking clearly.
Sickness itself means a number of things. It doesn’t just mean an occasional flu or headache or even some chronic health issues which, with the help of appropriate treatment, a person can be able to live a fulfilling life. What about the loss of the major senses or organs? Eyes, hearing, kidneys, limbs etc.
Gentlemen, your woman is fragile by nature. It is important to always keep that in mind. I bet if God had sought to, He would label every girl that is born, with the words “Fragile, handle with care.” However, I guess He wanted to preserve and showcase our physical beauty, hence the delicateness is not visible outright.
- A number of things happen in a woman’s body as she grows older. In fact, as soon as she becomes a teenager. I will not highlight this as you’re probably aware what I’m talking about. God gave women a different kind of strength though… inner strength, hence he instructed women to be helpers to their husbands.
- To be a helper does not mean that a person is your slave, maid, your subject or some possession. It means that God knew that there are areas where as a man, you might not or will not be able to tackle on your own. Therefore, a helper, aide or partner was provided for a man. Accept the help with open arms and do not resist it as, massive work is better tackled by a team. Marriage succeeds when tackled appropriately by a team.
- Unless a person would like to damage their backs; they should seek help when lifting heavy substances. Likewise, when marriage problems mount because they will, it is imperative to tackle all issues with your mate and, should the need arise, seek professional help together, always.
- As women’s bodies change after having children, hormones playing havoc on their very fragile bodies, bringing unsightly marks on their skins at times, making their breasts droop and bringing all sorts of ailments you never ever anticipated your wife would have, the real woes would begin. Would you be ready for those and would you know what to do in such circumstances?
- Would you stand by her when visits to the doctor or to the aesthetic clinics become more frequent, and require a lot of money, when it was not the case initially? Her beauty might also fade slightly as no one can remain young forever. The idea is to benevolently age while still maintaining the core you and maturing constantly as the years advance.
- We need to also remember that, as time goes on, people do change anyway. It is called growth. Education helps to open new horizons and new jobs, friendships and acquaintances bring about new ways of thinking. Sometimes, the change can come about due to circumstances that transpire in marriage, relationship with relatives, colleagues or even something major that might have happened in their lives like being fired from work, major sicknesses, death of loved ones etc. Remain sensitive to those changes you observe and keep on communicating with your mate. Offer your shoulder all the time, every time.
In conclusion, it is important to keep learning about your spouse and to notice any of the changes in them as they take place, and to always be there to support them, remembering why you got together in the first place.
About The Author
Pertunia Lehoka is a wife and mother of two, a daughter aged 20 and a son aged 14 years, based in Pretoria, South Africa. She is a businesswoman, a Life and Relationship Coach, an Author and Mentor. She has recently published her debut novel, “Providence – Mystery of the Soul Ties”, a romance novel with great depth and mysterious elements of Soul Ties, available currently from all major online stores. A hard copy is due to be released in September 2016.
She is currently working on the sequel to Providence, as it is a trilogy and has already conceptualized six more books. Social media accounts: Twitter | Facebook