Early this year, my husband and I marked our 7th year of marriage, which is not long at all but those years have been filled with so many experiences, some I would wish were an everyday experience and some I was deliriously happy to see their end but all those years and experiences have defined what my marriage is today.
A big party does not translate to healthy marriage
For starters, a party like I had would not have happened. I like my peace and own company a lot, that I mostly focused my attention during my wedding preparation on what concerned my husband and I: clothes, make up, accessories and the registry ceremony. My parents and his concentrated attention on the party proper. I can count the number of my friends whom I sold aso ebi to. Parties were just not my things; I’m mellowing with age though. But really, we were guinea pigs, my husband is the first born of his family, I’m the first child of my mother, so naturally, both sets of parents were not going to pass up the opportunity to marry off their kids in the style they had seen their friends and family do.
The party had no impact on my marriage except for the many gifts and the increased number of people who now feel my marriage is business. Left to me, we would have finished the business at the marriage registry. But, it did not work out that way for me.
Another of such things that I wished I knew was the fact that love was never going to be enough. I’m not going to lie, I was in love, I was blind to so many things. A lot of things did not matter, when what I craved was to know that the love of my life loved me back, even more. What could be more important than that to a woman in love? Nothing, if you had asked me back then.
However, I soon learnt that love is an action word, not emotion. Now, I consciously decide to love, not because of what my husband does or doesn’t do, I love. It is still a struggle to turn blind eyes to some things but that is the point, I am learning, I am growing.
The little gestures matter. Before my marriage, a date would have made my day, boxes of chocolate or teddies were romantic gestures that I loved but nowadays, I would forgo all the chocolates; (it’s not doing any good for my waist line anyway), if only I have an extra pair of hands to do the chores.
While dating, you might have found it a joy to clean up after mister, wash and fold his underwear, cook and clean up after him without complaining but soon after marriage, the story might change. Then, it’s the small acts of everyday kindness, respect and love that keep a marriage going. Romantic gestures like flowers or a surprise date are okay but mundane things like clearing the table or taking over child-bathing duty becomes the ultimate turn on.
Marriage does not define me. Yes, marriage is an important part of my life but it is not the be all and end all that I had thought. I was pretty naïve to have thought that my marriage was going to define me for the rest of my life. This was a welcome revelation and I’m so glad I found out. It made me strive to create an identity for myself separate from the ‘Mrs.’ prefix attached to my name.
I realized that even after marriage, we both continued to change as individuals but our essence never changed.
I wish I had sorted out my life’s path before marrying. I have spent my 20s, going to school, becoming a mother, wife and career woman lastly. What that translates to is my choices are rather limited. Before I make any career decision, I have to consider the interests of my family and how that decision will affect them. In fact, I can’t make the decision on my own, we have to make it together and I may have my way or not.
A friend of mine, who also got married early, puts it more succinctly, “My twenties have been spent just sort of following life, rather than leading it. So now, I’m going to grad school, getting things on track. And I wish I could do it my way. But I have a wife.”
I wish I knew that marriage is not about compromise but selflessness. The early days of my marriage was filled with silence and submission when we had issues but that led to fireworks some months later, which could have been avoided. I felt he was not compromising, that he was not considering me, I thought mostly about me and what I wanted him to do for me.
However, I learned that marriage is about mutual submission. It should never be a case of me giving up what I wanted, meaning he had to give up what he wanted too, so we can meet halfway, at a place where we didn’t both want to be. Instead, it was about me realizing that I can give up something I wanted, if it will mean that my DH would be happy, which will ultimately bring happiness to my own life. I wish I knew this early on.
Knowing all these things; some deep, some seemingly non important, would have made my marital journey a lot easier but as they say, experience is the best teacher and I learnt.
I learnt the hard way; but you can be wise and learn from me instead. No point charting a new course, if there is an established one, except to strike gold.
And married folks, feel free to tell me, what you wished you knew before tying the knot.