Marriage is no joke. I’ve always known that but never in my life has this message sank deeper and taken root in my heart, mind, soul and spirit like it has now. I have seen couples who were the envy of many people break up in spectacular fashion.

Image Courtesy of Forbes

I have seen couples who had fronted such a perfect image that when the cracks began to show, nobody could believe it. We had to swiftly collect our jaws from the floor because the shock was too much for us to bear.

Yet marriage is a beautiful thing too. Ordained by God for the sole purpose of fulfilling His will for humanity. Marriage can bring joy yet marriage can bring unknown depths of pain too. Marriage can drastically change the fortunes of the couple, yet marriage can equally ruin people. I have seen people who were avoided like a plague, yet when they tied the knot, the glow came back and they immediately jumped onto the ‘most sought after people’ list.

We live in a world where you can ‘filter away’ your problems and ‘make up’ any image you want. The allure to look perfect has never been this stronger. We want to remind the world by splashing our images online that we are indeed in the fast lane. We have this thing figured out. And some people fall for it as they look for a spouse.

As technology evolves, the innate need for affection in human beings is blown out of proportion as we jump onto the bandwagon of ‘showing off.’ As human beings, we sometimes crave the likes, the comments, the shares etc and we live strictly for it. Yet we forget that there is a unique glory in each of us. We do not need to have to be like somebody else for us to shine, neither do we need to mimic and follow other people’s way of life to feel satisfied.

I have never been in the eye of the storm of a separation or divorce. But a few people who were acquaintances have gone through this unfortunate experience. While I do not claim any level of expertise in this field, as a writer, I have talked to couples who have separated, divorced or left each other. Therefore these are lessons that have been shared by many couples. My work was to condense them and put them in an article.

Here we go:

Due diligence

Please take your time and do a proper due diligence. Find out someone’s background, emotional state, health issues, financial stability e.g. are they in debt, compatibility of your values, their virtues etc. Are they kind, are they peaceful, are they emotionally available, are they supportive can they be father or mother of your unborn children etc? Because while marriage, in essence, involves a lot of emotion, this step is just like any decision and requires the application of logic.

Get me right, due diligence can never make a deal 100% error proof but it can greatly reduce the unnecessary pain that comes with unwise decisions.

When we want to buy land, we take our time to do a proper due diligence. We spend tonnes of money is scrutinising whether the deal is good or not. We engage our mind. We shun emotions that can sometimes be misleading. The same happens when we want to buy a car, or property, or a house or even an investment. We ask all manner of questions. We are allowed to be sceptical and we take our time.

Yet when it comes to one of the most important decisions of our lives, we engage the emotional gear. We shut down counsel from friends whom we swiftly brand as people burning with jealousy. Some of us see glaring red flags but we convince ourselves that these people will change one day. Hope is never a strategy, better a broken engagement than a broken marriage because the latter induces more pain because of the level of investment one makes to get into it.

Doing due diligence isn’t about digging someone’s dirt, rather it is finding out if you can handle whatever garbage they carry. Because we are all damaged, no one is expecting to marry an angel. But since it’s a cross you will carry for the rest of your life, you must be allowed to measure and choose it.

Comparison

While we sometimes tend to admire the grass on the other side, my friend, remember to also look at the water bill. Because we often compare our relationships with others. Courtesy of social media, this gangrene has been amplified to the power of 1000. We want to be like couple A or couple B. “They took a really nice engagement photo, we have to outdo them, I like how the boyfriend treats the girlfriend, etc,” nonsense!!

We spend so much time admiring other people’s relationships that we forget to cultivate and work on our own. We are busy drawing comparison notes, and mentally competing to churn the best bump photo, the best wedding event, the best date night photo, the best Facebook message etc. that we forget to enjoy what we have.

While there is nothing wrong with sharing your relationship with the world, my prayer is that the same effort you are using to share it is also channelled to efforts of becoming a better couple. That you are sharing more love, more forgiveness, more kindness, more grace, more empathy and more of everything that is good.

What you don’t know is that there is not a single couple who will share their photo when they fight, when they have bad days, when they are moody, when there is conflict etc. “OMG, look at us, we just fought and we haven’t been talking for a month yet we share the same bed every day.” You will never see such posts.

Like an iceberg, the devil is in what is unseen. Some of these posts create an unrealistic expectation in the minds of some couples. Therefore they chase perfection only for them to realise that it is a rat race that never ends.

Foundation, foundation!

Fellow brothers, dear sisters, citizens of the world wide web; lend me your ears. Hear ye these words and write them on the wall of your heart. This point could save many people from agony and pain.

If you have built, or are building your relationship based on material and fleeting things like money, looks, etc; you will soon shipwreck. Your soul will be flooded with sorrow. You will not be able to contend or quench the level of pain that will come with it. Despair will be your close friend. You will know the depths of pain unknown to man. You will be finished and completely ruined.

Money is a good thing. It can buy all the comfort in the world. But it only brings peace to a person who is complete. Money can never wash away low self-esteem, wounds from the past, insecurities, anger etc.

Money will never be enough.

Beauty will one day fade away. The abs will whither. The bust will wrinkle and shrink. The well-toned skin will one day be wrinkled and ravaged. The behind will not always be there. The libido will one day go down.

Marry because you love the person. Marry because you fully comprehend that whether in sickness and in health, whether you are broke or rich, whether hungry or full etc, you will stick by their side.

But if you marry because of material things, and they grow wings and fly away, or when you marry because of the looks and the hand of time begins to wipe them off, then you will know that you surely built your house of cards on a sinking sand.

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Author: Dannish Odongo

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