In this part of the world, we are more idealists than realists. If we face setbacks in business, we are comfortable with reciting the famous words, “it is well’. If rain soaks you on the way to the office, it’s ‘showers of blessings’ and a promotion is probably on the way. If our right palm itches, it means some long lost relative will send cash soon.
It is no wonder that for many ladies in Nigeria, marriage seems to be the escape from society’s pressures. Many of us fantasize, dream and even start planning a wedding before meeting ‘the one’. Worse still, the romantic movies of heroes falling in love with less than perfect women and sweeping them off their feet in a proposal at the airport, add kerosene to our flame of fantasy. The truth is: idealism is great; but the idealist never knows what to do when the real situation hits hard like a deadly punch from a wrestler’s fist.
Without sounding like a messenger of doom, I will share with you secrets many couples never share about marriage.
1 The most glamorous part of a marriage is the wedding
A gorgeous cake, fresh flowers, wedding gown by Vera Wang, the exotic honeymoon, the paparazzi – all these come into play at the wedding. From the moment the bride wakes up on her wedding day to the moment she spends her first official night as a married woman, she feels on top of the world. Too bad the party can’t last forever.
When you see an elderly couple retaking their marriage vows with tears in their eyes, please note that those are not just tears of happiness; there are tears of a story well told – of joy, pain, courage, sadness and victory against all odds. If you’re not ready to deal with these, it’s not a sin to wait a little. Marriage is hard work and sacrifice.
2. The word ‘Sacrifice’ will suddenly come up more often in your dictionary
That word we all dread – sacrifice. From the first day, you would find out that you may have to place the needs of others before yours, and if you are blessed with children, get ready for more sacrifices. Will there be times you wish you were single? Yes. Will there be times you wish for one minute to yourself? Definitely. If given the opportunity, would you do it all over again? For most people, YES - especially if you are with the right person.
3. Marriage is not for pretence or show-off
Whether you cook with diamonds in your Egusi soup or look like a goddess or even know a thousand styles in bed, a man always knows whom his heart belongs to. The meaning is simple: be yourself before marriage and don’t try to portray what you are not. Let him fall in love with the essence of you not with an image you have created. It’s difficult to fall out of such love except either of you change sometime during the marriage.
4. You never really know a man/woman until you get married
Forget that you two lived in the same house for a few years before marriage, as far as there is no contract binding the two of you together in matrimony, you have not started. People tend to let down their hair when they are married and like an onion, the real us we have kept to ourselves start to unravel. The only thing to do is adjust and move on – you’re in it for real this time.
5. Marriage is teamwork
Like a job, if you like team work, this role is for you. Just kidding. What I am saying here is that if you don’t work together as a team, you are heading for a major disaster. The unfortunate thing is that you can’t control the other person’s mind and vice versa so one just has to respect the other person’s boundaries, and it’s difficult if both of you are always bent on having your way.
6. Like a Rollercoaster, there are ups and downs
Don’t think that in marriage, every day will be a holiday. You are kidding yourself. In fact, the most ecstatic moments in marriage come after a low period. Like every good story, you will be faced with challenges and tests. Even if you fail one, life will give you an opportunity to repeat the test. But when you pass one, the rewards are priceless.
7. Marriage is the ultimate gamble
Sometimes, marriage leads to happily ever after. Sometimes, it doesn’t. All is fair in love and war. If it doesn’t, dust your feet, learn from past mistakes and start painting a rosy future without giving in to society’s pressures.
Many times, society looks down on divorced women. We are quick to point fingers that it is a woman’s fault that things did not work out. The fact is it could be anybody’s fault. Yes, I know a woman is supposed to be resilient and determined to keep her man, but everyone has their limit of tolerance. We should respect that and not throw stones. If you did not live in their bedroom, try not to judge or place blames. Most times, divorce is the very last option for couples and it is a painful decision to make.
At the end, marriage is about two selfless people living together to achieve each other’s goals. If you find the right person to make that sacrifice with you, you are extremely lucky; as lucky as I am!