I am a sucker for a good, well planned out, love filled, romantic wedding service. Most especially the declaration of vows between the couple. Sometimes I make a joke (which actually may not be a joke) when I see how couples say their vows on their day. The priest says, “repeat after me: Husband starts repeating his vows, after the priest, supposedly to his bride but is “looking at the priest” as he is reciting the vows. (If you think I’m joking, watch carefully for this part at the next service you attend).
And the bride does the same too. smh.. and I think to myself, are they getting married to the priest? #rant over…
Whilst writing my thoughts on the last article “Team Singlehood: Get me outta ‘ere”, my thoughts started straying for a moment when I got to the part about marriage. And this led to me think about how fashionable it has become in today to see 2-3 marriages out of 5 newly weds heading for divorce. That’s really sad when compared to those who have been married for 20/30years who then decide to get divorced. It’s almost like as one is signing the marriage certificate on the wedding day, they tick this ‘imaginary option’ which says “married on ****, divorce by ****”
Looking at a few married folks that I have had to deal with in counselling sessions, I have come to realise a few things, which highlight some common trends and patterns today, why marriages are failing, not just the older marriages but marriages under 2 years old.
Apart from fact that a marriage is heading for doom, if God ain’t the centre and the chord that binds and holds it together, here are some of the now common reasons I have come to pick up:
They think they are ready…
Whilst there are some few factors and elements that should be in place (such as a man being able to provide and take care of himself and another, both parties are at a place where they are willing to submit one to another etc), the thought of one being of a particular age or status or financial standing is not sole basis to get married. Marriage is a HUGE responsibility and should only be embarked on by folks that are mature and ready to take on the responsibility of another life other than their own.
Even if you meet the right person, and you’re not in the right place, the frame of mind and outlook, you could potentially ruin what could be a great marriage, by getting married to the right person at the wrong time.
One of the things I would never forget was the time I was dating someone and we both went to see one of her mentors, who also happened to be someone I know. At the time of the meeting, he didn’t relate to me as someone I was familiar with or friends with when he asking me “the hard questions”. What really hammered down the importance of “dating” was when he asked us to both write down 10 reasons why we were dating, which included reasons why we both liked each other… and they were not to include “he’s nice, she fine, he’s tall, she’s beautiful, he buys me flowers, she cooked pasta and noodles for me”…
I wrote sha…. and she wrote too sha.. we passed… story for another day.
When I have done this same test with young couples in trouble, I tend to find out that there isn’t much “substance to the foundations of their relationship” and that’s a very dangerous thing to sustain in the long run because you’ll simply be building a relationship on air…
It’s one thing to work on a friendship, it’s another to work on a dating relationship, it’s one thing to work on a relationship where you are engaged, it’s a whole different ball game to be married! You can’t mix all of them together at the same time… That’s simply “àbàshà” and àbàshà usually gets thrown away!
You planned the wedding, didn’t prepare for the marriage
This is one that really breaks my heart. The vigour, the power, the strength, the resources, the diet regime, calorie counting, forest sorry garden pre-wedding photoshoots, bridezilla-groomzilla outburst, demands,
commands etc that a lot of people put into planning a wedding baffles me. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for planning and planning well, as failing to plan is planning to fail. But I have seen folks that get so engrossed and engulfed in planning the wedding day (whether they have a long or short time to plan) that they forget that there is a marriage after the wedding day.
You can spend a million bucks on your wedding day, but it takes more than that to sustain the marriage itself. The most important thing that is commonly sacrificed during planning a wedding (if care is not taken) is actually getting to know the person you’re marrying. Not know about them, I mean knowing them. (You may say that one can’t actually know another well – I beg to differ on that).
Someone said to me once, after 2 years of marriage, “I don’t actually know the man I married, it’s like he’s different to the person I thought I knew, I didn’t know his work was that demanding and he was that busy… helloooo!!”.. and that marriage is no longer alive now.
My personal thing is this: plan before you need to plan… Don’t wait till the time you need to plan a wedding before you “plan” your wedding… So that you can still balance you getting to know your partner well (character, personality, dislikes, likes, pet-peeves, moods, direction, purpose, beliefs, values, behaviour, future plans and goals, stands and preferences over certain matters like money, children, family, where to live etc).
Don’t be the person that can only go to the labour ward 1 time and your partner has a life goal of breeding a full football team of players, with occasional reserves here and there. And you say you didn’t talk about it before you married him.
Unreasonable and Unrealistic Expectations
Sometimes you do get a few bunch of people (both male and female) who go into marriage with the weirdest, wrongest, better still unrealistic expectations. I have heard some people say “when I marry him, all my troubles will be over, he will make me whole, I’ll be happy for life”! And I’m like you had better be marrying Jesus or His twin brother if he has any!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying one should not expect anything, you should by all means, but make sure that they are not ambiguous, unrealistic and unreasonable. If your expectations are mainly based on a selfish “what’s in it for me”, “what am I going to get from this”, “he/she must do this/that”, making it look like your partner is your saviour that has come to pay it all and liberate you into one fairy tale life, then you may be setting yourself up for a massive heartbreak down the line.
I’m blessed to have my parents both still alive and together, married for 36 years and still going strong and I always wonder what still keeps them going. I noticed a few years ago something that I reckon is one of the main reasons (apart from God) that has made them stand the test of time. It’s simply this: having a servant heart attitude. Each one of them makes sure that the other is “taken care of first, served first, has the other’s interests celebrated and achieved first” but in reality, both of them get their expectations met at the same time. So they never went into marriage thinking primarily or focusing mainly on what they could get individually from the marriage, but what they could give first.
It’s best to work on being whole before you enter into a marriage so that you’re adding value to another person than be a liability.
Married the wrong person (Standards by Preferences)
I won’t say much on this as I believe that this was mentioned in the “Team Singlehood: Get me outta ‘ere” article. When all your main reasons for wanting to marry him/her is based on your preferences which are largely influenced by fleeting, temporary, ephemeral feelings or tastes, you’ll soon realise that your partner may not be able to keep up with your ever-changing tastes or preferences. And then the person who used to “do it for you, will not do it for you anymore”.
Lost fundamental marriage values
We live in a time when values, traits and behaviours such as courtesy, respect, saying please, thank you, being patient, being mindful and thoughtful, waiting to work and build together, nurture etc are quite scarce. It’s like most people don’t want to be patient, work hard on building long lasting relationships. Folks are quick to write each other off, fast to have their desires met, not willing to forgive. And in record time, you hear the words, “this is not working, we have irreconcilable differences”. Sometimes the best things in life take a time to build and achieve. Microwave quickie stuff, they don’t last!
You let go of yourselves
I’ve seen quite a few people fall into this mode. Whilst they were dating and courting, they were making a great deal of effort to fan the flames of the budding relationship. There were date nights, kind gestures, surprises, outings, spontaneous activities etc. Things that helped focus on both parties, that helped grow the relationship.
But as soon as the marriage is a done deal, in no time, one party or the other starts to let themselves go, starts to reduce the amount of active effort they put in to make the relationship an active working one. No more date nights, no more surprises, no more flower buying… they best they do is wear “to match outfits”…
The fact that you are now married should not mean you should stop doing those things you did to woo yourselves, or the things that kept the spice and flame up. Long lasting marriages are those where the couples still make time and put in more effort to do things that make each other know that they are special now just as they were the first time you both were getting to know each other.
So don’t say ‘cos you’re married the date nights should stop, the surprise lunch dates, or the flowers and the “I love you” should stop.
This is one that is popular in most cases. Both parties talking, no one’s listening, or if they are listening, it’s more hearing what’s been said than listening or just plain selective listening. Since most folks don’t really take the time out to really get to know their partners, they fail to learn how each individual communicates – gives and receives.
One may be saying what’s right but not saying it in the “right” way that the other person knows to receive and understand what’s been said. It’s about communicating properly with the right love language, in the right sequence – give and take, not take and take or give and give.
Both parties may be on the same page, but because of lack of good communication skills or techniques, they may end up fighting battles that don’t need to be taken up.