Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The 7 Truths I Learned After One Year of Marriage

On September 5th, my wife and I celebrated our first year anniversary. It's hard to believe that a whole year has actually past. It feels like only a few days ago that we were stressing over guest lists, decorations and insane parents. I still remember how things came to a head the day before the wedding and my then fiance and I had a major blowout and didn't speak till 2hours before the service! At the time, I doubted everything in my life except gravity but today we are so much stronger and better people than we were back then.
The bible in the Book of Deuteronomy 24:5, advises that recently married couples should take the first year off to learn to love one another. I cannot overstate how vital this can be towards a successful marriage in the long haul. I wish I could have had a proper year but someone needs to put food on the table right?
The past year has been such a powerful experience for me as a man. I have debunked so many myths, learned so many truths and I believe in the process, become more of a man than I've ever been before. I would like to share some key learning's with you now.
Marriage (and life) is not about you!
Yes, that's right. It's not about you. Ha, no one likes to here that one. Marriage is about spending the rest of your life consciously choosing to love your spouse 110% and help them become everything that God created them to be. It's a bitter pill to swallow. Most of us get married thinking about what we're going to get out of marriage. Love, sex, money, security, companionship, connections, a cook, a daddy, whatever. This self-centered mentality will always and has always led to poor marriages and divorce. Marriage is about giving up yourself for the benefit of your spouse. Only when you give of yourself selflessly, consistently, genuinely and tirelessly will you have an awesome marriage. So what about my needs you ask? Why get married if I get nothing out of this? Well actually you do get a lot out of marriage. I mentioned them already; Love, sex, money, security, companionship, connections, a cook, a daddy, whatever J Seriously though, the funny thing about marriage is this. If you chose the right partner (and often, even if it was the wrong one), God has worked it out that whatever you pour into your marriage, you will receive back in equal measure and more. So what I discovered was, the more I lay down my selfish desires and focus on fulfilling my wife's needs, the more my wife would work at fulfilling mine. Ha?! Who'd have thought it?
Marriage is very hard work.
I can almost hear all the groans at that one. Yes, marriage is work and hard work at that too. In any way you color it, it simply isn't easy for any two people with totally different upbringing, cultures and thinking to live together as a unit and you expect it to be seamless. If anyone told you that this will be a stroll on the beach, well, they lied. And you should sue them. Now. You could use the extra money anyway. To make a marriage work, there is a lot of sacrifice, sweat, tears and sometimes even blood. There will be fights over silliness like, should the toothpaste be squeezed in the middle or the bottom. There will be anger, frustrations and crying over unmet expectations. There will be brokenness. There will be soccer nights and soap nights. There will be snoring and there will be farting. There will be in-laws and out-laws. There will be babies.So you see, there has to be a lot of work to make this work. Any man can tell you it's a lot of work to sit still and listen to a woman. We're just hopeless at emotional, touchy feeling sharing times. It's a lot of work for women to understand her mans fundamental need for respect even when he doesn't deserve it. It's hard work to find the time to make love between diaper changes and 12 hour work days. Marriage is a lot of hard work. The upside is, when you do it right, it's the most rewarding hard work you'll ever do.
Love is not a feeling and only God can provide the added juice!
Hmmm. Yes. Love is not a feeling. The bible tells us that there are different kinds of love. Eros- sexual love, Phileos- affectionate friendly love and Agape-Unconditional love. Now the greatest of these is Agape. It has nothing to do with feelings. It's a daily, moment by moment choice to do whatever is in the highest good for another. In marriage, we basically start with Eros - sexual love or emotional love. It quickly fades after a few months, even the honeymoon. I first heard from someone close to me long ago said in "Marriage, love is not enough" I didn't get it at first but what it means is that the emotional love will not take you through marriage. You will need Agape love to get through those incredibly tough times when you can't stand your spouse. When your husband comes home late for the umpteenth time after hanging out with the boys, only a God enabled choice can allow you to greet him with a smile and serve him his dinner and ask him how his day was as you massage his shoulders. So yes, you will need Agape love to make your marriage last and it's only by the grace and love of God that you can be able to show the same to your spouse.
Marriage can propel or break a man
We have all heard the great adage; behind every great man there is a great woman. And behind every black man, are the police! But yeah, this is another truth I've come to learn in the last year. In Genesis 2, God says, it's not good for man to be alone so let us create a suitable helper. The plan of God is for men to have dominion over the earth. Now, women's activists should slow down before they bite my head off. What that means is that we are supposed to work hard and subdue the earth in order to prosper. But there is a catch. We cannot do it alone. We need the input, encouragement, respect and help of a good woman. Yeah boy's you heard me, you can do great things but you can do unimaginable things with a great woman in your life. My wife, God bless her, is one of those awesome women. I have in the last year become so much more of a man in thought, character and spirit than in the last 29 years. I can see that I'm going to accomplish incredible things in my life. Boys, you need a woman who is your number one fan, who believes in you no matter what, who praises you and worships the ground you walk on. Trust me, ladies out there and men, if this is how a man is treated, he will always do great things.Of course the corollary is true. A bad woman can destroy even the best of men. It's incredible the amount of influence women have on us men. If used wrongly, it can lead any man down a path of destruction. I've seen good men become liars, cheats and thieves because of a woman in his life. Wars have begun because of women, the Great battle of Troy. So what's my point? Men, be very careful when choosing a wife because she can either make you or break you.
Marriage is not a 50/ 50 partnership.
This is one of the greatest myths people have when going into marriage. It's not a 50/ 50 partnership. It's a 100/ 100 partnership. If you go into this thinking you can give just 50% and your partner will do the other 50%, you will be disappointed. Marriage requires both parties go into this giving 100% of themselves, their time, their resources, their souls. If you are holding back, having a secret bank account, not opening up to each other fully or being honest, not forging and being compassionate, I can guarantee you that your marriage will never be as full and holistic as you'd like. Someone close to my wife advised her to have a secret bank account hidden from me so that she can keep a lifestyle for herself. The basic concept of "My money (hers) is my money and your money (mine) is our money" She disregarded this advice much to the gain of our marriage. Total disclosure and openness has fostered a level of trust and intimacy that I cannot describe. You cannot afford to withhold any part of yourself in Marriage if you wanted to have a great one. Marriage is about two people becoming one, that's two wholes becoming one, not two halves.
Marriage has shown me what a real man is supposed to look like
As most of you know, throughout my blogging I haven't hidden the fact that I believe the world is in dire need of real men. There are too many boys running around messing up the world for the rest of us. Marriage has shown me what a real man is supposed to look like. Marriage has shown me that real men are;
  • Family Conscious- They prioritize their wife and kids above all other worldly things. Nothing except God takes priority over them.
  • Responsible- They don't blame anyone for their life or circumstances.
  • Providers- They take care of their family and those who have no one to help them.
  • Protectors- protects his family physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • Priests - A man was designed by God to be the spiritual head of his home, to pray and intercede for them. A real man is tied into Jesus.
  • Teachers - A man is a teacher. He has to teach those under his care the right way to live and do things as shown to him by God.
  • Principled - Men have to have N.U.T.S Non negotiable Unalterable Terms. Principles of virtue, integrity, character, discipline, kindness, leadership etc by which they live.
  • Selfless - Real men are not self-centered. They live their lives to make the lives of others better according to God's love.
  • Diligent Hard workers - Real men are diligent hard workers. They work hard to provide for their families and provide a secure future for them leaving a wholesome legacy for their children.
Life doesn't always go according to plan but often times works out a whole lot better.
This is a funny one. In life we all have plans. When I'm twenty I'll do this. When I get a promotion, I'll do that. When I get married, I'll do that. But life likes to throw curve balls. My wife and I planned a simple small wedding which we would pay for ourselves. EEEEHH! Wrong. We planned to go to a certain exotic place for our honeymoon. EEEHHH! Wrong again. We planned to spend the first two years without children so we could enjoy us. EEEHHH! Wrong again. What happened. Well, we had a small wedding but we didn't manage to pay for it ourselves. We didn't end up in the exotic spot but instead discovered a beautiful suburban location is South Africa that is now on my top 5 holiday destinations forever. We didn't get to have our two years but every day when I look at our daughter, I melt with awe and joy. The lesson is, even though you don't get what you plan, you can often time get something a whole lot better than you had planned. Lesson, don't sweat it. For every lost plan, there is a bigger and better one. You just have to keep an open mind.
I can clearly tell you though, there is still quite a lot for me to learn but I'm looking forward to learning them all. What I can say is, marriage is a beautiful and wonderful institution when God is in the midst of it. It's challenging but rewarding and the best human relationship of all. To those who aren't married and want to, I encourage you to. Those who are married and having a rough time, there's always hope.
Shalom.

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