So TODAY, 8th August, 2014, Hansa and I celebrate one year in marriage and in an era where we have seen marriages break up even before they make 6 months of marriage it is worth celebrating the ONE Year anniversary. WOW, it feels like we just got married yesterday.
As has always been the habit, I always take a few lessons from my life experiences and so has been with this one; now I know some of you who may have gotten married way earlier than me must be saying hmmm… this guy has only spent one year and he is writing about marriage but hey.. what good is all the knowledge you have learnt if you don’t share it so others can learn from you experiences and not make the same mistakes. Anyway let me go ahead and share my lessons that I have learnt. Here we go:
1. Get rid of your fantasies, ideologies and cultures.
Before you get married, you have fantasies of what marriage is like and of course you get advice from people who have been married telling you what to do when but one thing you come to learn when you are actually married is that most of the fantasies may or may not work out and the knowledge passed either culturally does not work especially since marriage has evolved from the times of our fathers. We no longer have women staying at home and therefore it takes an understanding spouse to start making adjustments to suit the current times. I will give an example. Some of the advice I received was that “men do not enter the kitchen or even worse cook”, “you have to divide up roles you earn for the family and she does all the work at home”, “never ask for your wife’s money”. I have found most of such advice false and not applicable to our setting in fact in my case none of it works, I have on very many occasions found myself in the Kitchen cooking and my wife enjoys many of my meals, we share roles but often times rotate the roles and it works perfect for our marriage, we share financial knowledge and often times share bills etc. My huge lesson has been that since marriages have evolved we need to evolve as well and get rid of the ideologies that may have worked for our father because clearly… TIMES have changed and as such we must also change otherwise the marriage may crash you down.
I guess the big lesson for me and my wife has been that for us to be successful and spend more years together, we MUST be in control and build our marriage. It is OUR DECISIONS that influence how we should act and not our past, fantasies or even the cultures being passed on to us so we have developed our own principles and there are the ones we use to run our marriage and not necessarily our parents principles or that older couple’s principles. We learn from the experienced people but we do not copy and paste what they have done in their marriage.
2. True love as your spouse will feel it.
One of the most recommended books on marriage is the Five Love Languages by Garry Chapman. I would certainly recommend that anyone getting married or married and hasn’t read it should read it and apply the principles taught in it. I have observed that many of us as we love our spouses, we like to love them the way we feel loved e.g. if we love gifts, we think that our spouse will feel loved if we give them gifts. Unfortunately, if your spouse’s love language is not one of gifts then you just missed, they will feel nothing. I have learnt that as a husband, I need to study my wife and understand their language and then focus my energies on showing her my love through her love language and not mine. This will simplify your work as a spouse and I believe if we all focused on studying our partner’s love language and loved them using it, we would have less situations in our marriage where our partner does not feel loved and it would actually make them feel loved.
3. Define your own Financial footprint
I define one’s financial footprint as the way an individual handles money i.e. how they spend it, invest it, save it etc. The biggest influencer of our financial footprint are the families we grown up in. In most cases, you will find that if someone grew in a family where they used to host a lot of family gathering, they will ideally expect that when they start their own family such a trend should follow or where they never invest, you will barely see them investing any of the income they receive as a family.
The worst scenario I have observed are families where the father used to provide all the family finances and the mother spent all her money on her own things and so when a girl grows up from such a family, they expect ALL the bills to be covered by the hubby so that she can use her own money. In my culture this is what they usually refer to as ‘aka sente k’omukyala.’ I believe as I mentioned in my first point that when starting a new family such biases should not be considered. As a new couple, you should define how finances are handled in your new family. You should be able to sit down and agree on how and what to spend on what. I mean if you are able to share your bodies why is it hard to share your finances and how you handle them.
Finances are the second leading causes of divorce after infidelity so it is important for couples to define their own financial footprint in order to protect their marriage.
4. Leadership in marriage
The leadership and headship of the home falls on the man/male, there is no debate about this. God clearly stipulates it in his Word. However, I have learnt through the last one year, that “Leadership is not about the position but rather the function.” Even though my wife often times calls me “Boss”, I have learnt that my role at home is not to boss her around but to provide vision at home, to be the priest, to provide protection and make it feel safe for her and to make it the best place for her so that even when she is away she misses it. The quote below from Dr. Myles Munroe’s book; The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage summaries my thoughts on Leadership and Submission in marriage:
“Submission means that a wife acknowledges her husband’s headship as spiritual leader and guide for the family. It has nothing whatsoever to do with her denying or suppressing her will, her spirit, her intellect, her gifts, or her personality. To submit means to recognize, affirm, and support her husband’s God-given responsibility of overall family leadership. Biblical submission of a wife to her husband is a submission of position, not person hood. It is the free and willing subordination of an equal to an equal for the sake of order, stability, and obedience to God’s design. As a man, a husband will fulfil his destiny and his manhood as he exercises his headship in prayerful and humble submission to Christ and gives himself in sacrificial love to his wife. As a woman, a wife will realize her womanhood as she submits to her husband in honour of the Lord, receiving his love and accepting his leadership. When a proper relationship of mutual submission is present and active, a wife will be released and empowered to become the woman God always intended her to be.” ― Myles Munroe
5. Join/form a marrieds group
Finally one of the most important things that has helped us was the marrieds group we formed/joined. One of the my favourite quotes on friend is:
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis
This is exactly what a married’s group does and has helped us with. We have discovered that for most of the situations we have gone through all the other couples in our group have either gone through them or are actually gone through these. This has helped not only draw comfort from others but also as a group we discuss through the issues and come up with solutions. It also helps us learn from each other’s experiences and share best and worst practices. And as such for the time we have been together I am grateful to my group mates for all the love, friendship and support you have provided to the Kakindas… we are truly grateful.
Finally, All the glory, honor, praise goes back to God, the Lord of the Heavens and the earth, the Author of life for He has kept us, provided for us, taught us, loved us and been good through it all. As we continue on our marriage journey we promise to ALWAYS keep Him at the Centre our marriage. Also thanks to my dear wife Hansa, she has done a great job loving me and keeping me in shape for the last one year. I am much smarter, a better decision maker, a great forgiver and much wiser. I am sure many of you who hang around me will testify to this. May God continue to bless you my dear wife.
To all readers I hope this article blesses you and you pick some of these lessons to better your relationships and marriages. I love you all and may God bless you. I am writing my first book on Marriage drawing from my one year experience and hope to share it here. It will be free so no need to worry about the costs of purchasing it.