Lately, the resonating words have been hearing around me are marriage and wedding: when are you getting married? You should be married by now, haven’t you found the right woman, are you dating, I want to meet her, how soon do you intend to get married etc….. and seriously between you and I, I want it to stop, I want people around me to care about some thing else in my life, like my career; I just want to have a normal conversation without it leading to the marriage questions, but I guess what I want doesn’t matter in the face of the society that thinks everything run by the code; be born, grow up, get educated, get married and raise children.
Don’t get me wrong, I have not bought an application form for celibacy; I want to get married, I want to fall in love with that special beautiful someone, I want her to catch me from falling in love with her and be so in love with me too, I want to be a father…….Name it; anything in a happy marriage-I want it but can the society (families and friends) let me do it at my own pace/ God’s time? Can the society understand that I have to be fulfilled as a person before I can fulfill my spouse’s expectation(s), can the society understand that marriage is serious responsibility and I need to be ready physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, psychologically and spiritually; and as such should not be pressurized to get in, can the society understand that marriage is the only school you get a certificate before taking classes, can the society understand that when I take my vows in the presence of God and them, I fully intend to stand by it to the latter and can the society understand that divorce is not an option for me so I need to take my time and be sure that I make the right choice.
My paragraph of lamentation above is just to resound the fact that one doesn’t prepare in marriage, you prepare for and ahead of marriage. Marriage is a big step one has to be extremely ready for, so the question should be: am I ready? Is it right to be forced into marriage? Is there a time frame/set age for marriage and its readiness? How and when do you know you’re ready?
To answer all these questions we need to understand the concept called marriage, because contrary to widespread opinion, marriage is not a function of the love that exist between two people alone; it is a function of commitment, sacrifice, respect, loyalty and understanding Basically, it is a function of how much you are willing to put in to make it work. Think of marriage as a shopping basket, almost everyone thinks marriage is beautiful and fully packed shopping basket where they can just go get anything they crave for like love, romance, intimacy, etc. but the truth is marriage at the start is an empty shopping basket; you must put something in it before you can take something out. There is no ready-made intimacy in marriage; the responsibility is on you to infuse it in your marriage. The trick is you have to work to keep the shopping basket full, don’t take out more than you put in, otherwise the basket will be empty.
Every phase in life prepares you for the next one, which means there are things you need to do and also understand as a single before you can consider marriage which includes the following-
Be fulfilled as a single: there are so many things that you can and need to do as a single which will probably be difficult or nearly impossible to do when you are married. I mean being a single is time for you to explore you; understand your emotions, find your weakness, define your relationship with God, start your own company, learn to cook almost anything, travel the world, drive a race car……….the list is endless but basically what I am trying to say here is: find out your potentials, know who you are, understand what it takes to live a full life, make mistakes and learn from them as a single, because when you’re married- your responsibility changes.
Cultivate character: this is important because there is no marriage immune to trying times, so when the love you both share start depreciating and believe me when I say it will, He/she no longer do those small but significant romantic gestures you knew them for and everything fails, your character is what sustains you through. It can help bring back the sparks. Looking at this from the other side, every human has a character flaw, anger, stubbornness, malice, jealousy and so on; locate your flaw and tame it or else when they show up in your marriage they can cause irreparable damage.
Acquire knowledge: In Matthew 19vs 4 Jesus answered the Pharisees asking about divorce “haven’t you read……..” this passage reveals the importance of knowledge, this is because you can’t apply wisdom until you KNOW. For basics you should know that Man is created differently from women and vice versa, and it takes knowledge to understand these differences and deal with them appropriately. For example: men are logical beings, they analyze and rationalize while women are emotional beings…When they are happy, they cry; when they are sad, they cry. Research also shows that women speak an average of twenty thousand words per day while men speak just seven thousand, as a man you should be ready to sit back, relax and listen to the rest thirteen thousand words every day. The aforementioned are just few differences, there are lot of differences between a man and a woman which can be genetical, physical etc. you need to know this so that you can always be there for your spouse.
Wedding is not Marriage: I had an ex who was always eager to throw the word marriage into every of our conversation and then one day I had enough and asked her: how many materials have you read or listened to on/about marriage? She looked at me surprised, and there goes my answer. A lot of us don’t take time to understand that there is a world of difference between wedding and marriage, we take all the time in the world to prepare for the wedding , some even go as far as traveling to Paris to shop for the best wedding dress but we never take time to prepare for the marriage. Wedding is a typical ceremony that cost between $10000-$150000 or more depending on how rich you are, intended to represent the joining together of two people in holy matrimony. Such ceremony usually last a day or two while marriage is the days after wedding when the real business of co-existing begins and your preparation will begin to speak.
Marriage is all about meeting needs: these days, marriage is often taken too lightly and this explains the high rate of divorce and formation of new words like ‘Baby Mamas’ and ‘prenup’. Most people don’t realize that marriage is the hardest pledge for anyone to make. People usually treat marriage as a convenience rather than covenant; thinking how they can benefit from marriage rather than meet their spouse needs. You should be emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and financially ready to meet your spouse needs. Anyone with half a brain and fifteen thousand naira for a license can get married, but it takes real commitment to make it work.
Marriage is not emotion alone; emotion is not enough reason to get married: Any hormone-driven chukwudi/Sule/Femi can fall for anything in skirt with pretty face and high heels. There has to be more than love to advance to marriage, because what happens on days when you don’t feel as though you are in love with your partner which obviously can’t be solved with emotions alone- you two need to plan, set goals and talk about your expectations… ask yourself why am I getting married to this person? talk to your spouse about how to raise your children, how to budget incomes, where you guys will live etc. in doing this you discover how compatible you two are, if you can align your dreams with his/hers or not.
Marriage today has become more of a failed institution because our society has failed to “teach us how to stay married” or “learn how to be married.” People treat it with flippancy and as a convenience rather than a spiritual agreement. The purpose of this article is to correct any misconception that Marriage is a destination, it’s not; rather it’s a journey and you need to be prepared for the ride- know what you are getting into and with whom before you take a trip down the aisle.
P.S: this is not an attempt to discourage myself or anyone from getting married, this is an honest effort to make sure you comprehend what marriage is all about enough to make yours work and by all means if you feel ready, please go for it and done hold back…just remember to contract the wedding photography to yours truly.
Babalola Michael Omotayo