When it comes to marital issues, you will get a tsunami of unsolicited advice that will astonish you. Though most of these counsels come with the best of intentions, they do not necessarily guarantee the best of results.
It is funny to me that people assume that because they are married or have been married, they are licensed to give advice about marriage. This is not to downplay the role of experience, rather, it is to state that success is not always determined by experience. Marital success is governed by principles.
Change is something that must be experienced by every living and non-living thing. This is what makes a generation different from the other. Some of these counsels are outdated and often not applicable presently because times and seasons have changed.
Just a few days ago, I went to see my former senior colleague whom I will call him Mr. Sam. Surprisingly, he started the conversation by giving me advice on marriage to relate to my counsellees or mentees. As he spoke, I realised the damage some of these things could do to intending couples if yielded to.
Below are some of those recommendations:
- Never Tell Your Wife Everything
Let me rephrase it in words you may be more familiar with: “It is not everything you tell your spouse.” Of course, there are many versions to the above statement. Amazingly, a lot of young couples and singles have been left to their fate of interpreting it as they see fit. They are confused as to what everything really means. Could it be not telling your spouse how much you earn? Your debt portfolio or financial plans? Does it include happenings in your family of birth? How about the new relationships in your life, should your partner not be in the know?
This advice given sometimes has an undertone of colored perception of male superiority, or what do you think?
- Your Partner Will Complete You
For a long time, a lot of people have walked in this error, searching for partners to complete them. This leads to disappointments because this person doesn’t exist. Looking for someone to complete you is an endless and futile chase. No human is designed to complete the other. Everyone is complete in themselves and only God can fill the core vacuum in a person’s life. However, as it relates to marriage, two individuals come together to complement each other. This is called SYNERGY.
It takes two whole persons to become one in the journey of marital bliss.
- It Is the Woman that Owns the Home
A lot of times, this phrase has been tweaked to justify the injustices some women suffer in the hands of their husbands. Some have been left to bear the burden of making the marriage survive at the detriment of their mental health and sanity.
The spiritual backing for this is a quote in the Bible that says, “A wise woman builds her home.” When a wife is left to take up the responsibility of house chores, the role of breadwinner and the muscle for emotional stability in the home, this scripture has been taken out of context and used for selfish purposes. This line of thought only encourages passivity in husbands.
Marriage is said to be the union of a mature man and woman who are both committed to the tenets of marriage. One person cannot build a home. It takes the effort and commitment of both husband and wife.
- A man should marry someone much younger than him if he must be respected as the head of the home.
Such a perspective only fools us into thinking that age is what accords one respect. We have seen that when the age differences between a couple is too much, it creates issues much later (is there any strong evidence for this?). Marrying someone much younger doesn’t guarantee respect.
An age difference of 10 years for example, shows that the couple are almost from different generations. This doesn’t mean that the marriage cannot work. It only means that both individuals must be aware of this difference and be willing to commit to working through the challenges that comes with it.
- Marry someone who can make you happy and who loves you more
A while ago, someone sent me a message asking who should love more between a husband and wife. I checked to confirm if that was really a question, then remembered that while growing up my mum had counselled a lot of people, especially her younger sisters, to marry a man that loved them more.
Now, I just can’t stop thinking that perhaps some women are still unmarried because they are searching for a man who would love them more than they loved him.
How do you even measure the person that loves more?
Alongside this, is the advice to marry someone who will make you happy. Since when did the definition of marriage change to selfishness and self-centeredness?
Marriage was never all about your happiness. Setting such a standard for one person to meet is a recipe for heartbreak and disappointments. This is not to say that marital bliss doesn’t produce happiness.
Marital bliss, just like your happiness, is a choice. Your happiness is not dependent on another person in all totality. I learnt this the hard way, but it is one of the greatest lessons I ever learnt. It sets you free and rescues the person you are expecting to make you happy from your bondage.
When you have a partner, who is committed to working with you to have a blissful marriage, happiness becomes a given and not a request.
- Never Go to Bed Angry
I can’t remember where I heard this first, but it was one of the advices that stuck with me for many years.
I became an ardent believer in it, but it gave my husband and I some miserable nights that could have been avoided.
Looking back, I wish I never took such advice in plain words. Don’t get me wrong. The intention behind this statement may be sincere. However, you cannot resolve every marital conflict before going to bed. Sometimes, one of the healthiest choices you can make is to take a break from the heated arguments.
This I also learnt the hard way. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have allowed my husband and I sleep over some of our issues and discuss them later.
Sometimes, we need to sleep over some issues to get a clearer perspective or insight. This may not necessarily be interpreted as keeping malice.
While there is no perfect recipe for a forever-till-death-separates, there are certainly advices that are recipe for the destruction of relationships from the onset.
These are my findings and I have no doubt that you have heard or have been given advices that were not mentioned above. Kindly share some of them below.