Top lessons I’ve learnt from my parent’s marriage
I am blessed to have my parents (both) together and still going strong after more than 35 years of marriage! How they have done it, I don’t know (this is where the Christianese in me will come out to say “It is by God’s grace”, which is absolutely true).
My folks probably don’t know this, that I talk about them a lot, about their marriage, their lives, as they are quite the best examples I could have to what a great marriage is (maybe they’ll get to read this one day and be encouraged to buy me a new wristwatch or shoe or something).
In this time and age when most marriages don’t make it past the 2nd year mark, I believe that when one sees a marriage that’s working and standing, you best grab a pen and paper and study it, to know what you can apply to yours, if you’re there or on your way there.
Here are a few of many lessons I have learnt from watching from the front row seats, the marriage between my father and mother.
God’s the Center.. always
I have heard a lot of people say this: Put God at the centre, a three-fold chord is not easily broken, that is all true, but with human beings, it is easier said than done. A good friend once said to me, start as you mean to continue… I believe before I was born, my dad and mum would most likely wake up in the morning and pray together before setting out on their daily duties. And this carried on, even when we the kids came along, even up until now! When all get the chance to go home, we still have the morning devotions (and I believe we still sing the songs in sequential order, with my dad with his tambourine).
Truth be told, anything and everything that my parents do, I have come to see that it is done “as unto the Lord” and because they have chosen to honour God and put Him in His rightful place, there is no doubt that God has had a big hand in sustaining their marriage.
Whether it’s in the business, at work (in high profile meetings where you’d probably want to shy away from mentioning “God”, helping others, even when they travel), there is always an element of God being put into what my parents are doing, classic example of “doing it as unto the Lord.
Perfectly Perfect Partners
Don’t get me wrong, it is not that my parents are perfect people, not at all, but they are perfectly perfect for each other. Where one is weak, the other person covers that weakness with their own strength and never uses it against the other. If my mum is doing some programme or has a project that she wants to embark on, once my dad knows, even in his busy schedule, you can be rest assured that the project/event will be executed well because he will give and do whatever is needed as if the project/event is his own. And if the tables were turned, my mum also will go far and beyond to do the same for him.
This helps to maintain a balance and a good working order in the marriage and in the family as well.
Integrity and Respect
This is something is priceless and somewhat rare today. It is one thing for people outside to say that you’re a person of integrity and well worthy of the respect you get. It is another thing for the people who know behind closed doors to have the same testimony of you. I have never, in all my years of existence, heard or seen my parents argue because/over integrity and respect. Not once. They are a classic example of say what you mean, mean what you say, talk the talk and walk the walk even if it will cost you. If my dad says he’s going to work, you’ll find him at work. I have come to understand that a woman will find it easier to submit and partner with a man (even if it is not in her natural nature to do so) who has integrity and give him the respect that he deserves and the same man, who sees that his wife is submissive will find it easier to love and respect her too, most especially if it so happens that his wife is a “powerhouse”.
Agree to Disagree, Compromise…
I have really not seen my parents ensued in a fight or in an argument in public or at home that threatened to go out of hand and we needed some external powers to intervene. Not to say they don’t disagree on things, they do. My dad is quite simple and easy going, my mum, she’s the attention to details person – we have to do this and that… and my dad will be like “is that necessary?, I don’t think so”…
Most of the time, when it comes to doing something for my dad, he doesn’t like any fuss being made about him, but my mum, nahhhhhhh, she wants the fuss made and will plug herself into the fuss (and we do too, ‘cos we have an awesome dad).
The last time we went home to celebrate his investiture, we had to keep a lot “information” away from him because he just doesn’t like folks fussing over him. This could potentially cause some unnecessary – argument, but with some reasoning between them, you can rest assured that there will be some compromised grounds that would be reached and everyone will be happy in the end.
And this is not just for the times when we need to do things for one person, it is present in situations and scenarios where compromises need to be made.
I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing my parents use the word “I” as much as they use the word “we”. They are individuals, very opposite in nature, but there is always a united front that they present at any time. I’m not just talking about wearing the same clothes (aso ebí or ànkóò things), which I still don’t get the idea of couples wearing uniforms…another story for another day). Even in discipline and principles, they still have the united front on. Whether they talk about it and how to work it out in the bedroom/pillow talk boardroom, I don’t know, but you’ll always see them both stand for and say the same things.
Even when we try to outsmart them or play one against the other (you know you’ve done the same too, “mummy can we go out” after daddy said, “go and bring your maths homework” – the next thing you will hear is “let me ask your father or wait till your father gets home”… you know you ain’t going anywhere!) Most people know that I’m the only boy, hence I’m quite close to my mum. And with that comes some extra protection and tag team stuffs. Whilst in secondary school, we had this test, which a couple of friends and I decided to change the test to an “open book” tests (for those who are not aware, most exams and test back in those days in Nigeria were not open book, if your book was open during the test, it is popularly known as cheating). I got caught and didn’t inform my parents that I faced the disciplinary panel at school. Long story cut short, my mum got to know 3 months later, just before I got suspended, she didn’t lay hands on me, which I felt was weird, waited for my dad to get home, told him and you can visualise the way that evening went.
Let’s just say I was delivered and never did it again. During the “course of ministration – laying on of hands and other suitable items”, I could hear my mum say in the background – ‘fa ra ba lè, je ìyà e; be patient in taking your punishment – I could not believe that she had joined the ‘opposition’. But coming to think about it, I’m pretty sure it must have one way or the other touched her ‘cos she hates seeing me in pain, even though she came to give me some painkillers after, the united front was there when it came to discipline.
Selflessness and being mindful
This is one lesson that stands out in my parents marriage. They put each other first, it’s become their first (after God) hand nature. My mum won’t eat till my dad gets home. My dad will call to check on my mum before he goes to bed and intermittently, when ever she’s out of the country and vice versa too. If my dad is getting something for himself, he’ll get something for his wife ( he’s like I need to get that for my wife too – they have their own definition of romance!) It’s no wonder when they say when you’ve been with someone for son long, you tend to finish their sentences, know how or what they think or even look/be like them.
My mum serves my dad first, my dad serves my mum first, each person ends up getting served first, at the same time. It works!