It has been over 7 years since I broke up with my ex, but I have been afraid of commitment for the longest. Of course I did ‘see’ someone here and there, but whenever I thought about becoming a wife I shuddered. Well, while there is a plethora of reasons as to why I did not want to commit, one of them stands out: I WAS NOT READY. First, I became a mum at a very young age and thus did not get the chance to mature fully – some of my character traits were left hanging, but I thank God who has continued to purify my soul and to this end, my son has been fundamental in helping me find myself as well as go through the modeling process smoothly. I had struggled with anger, for instance, for so long that I had ask for my son’s help. Though very young, he has a very different temperament from me and so he played his role very well – even as I looked up to God for help. Deep inside me, I knew that there was no way I could become somebody’s wife with such a temper. However, in God’s time I overcame it and now I thank Him for setting me free.
Besides my shortcomings (anger was just one of them), there were many things that I felt needed to be in place before I could consider marriage. There were times I would close myself and imagine a marriage situation, and I can tell you those moments were not the best. It felt like a load to me – having to wake up to prepare your husband for work, coming home faster to make supper and all. You might ask; isn’t that what you do for your son? Well, you are wrong! In my nine years of parenting, I can tell you keeping a son is not the same as keeping a husband!
I grew up with no mum to mentor me, and for the ten years I stayed with my parents, their marriage was dysfunctional before they eventually called it quits. However, their reunion has taught me that you cannot leave God out of your marriage – especially if you want Him to keep it intact. It was His design in the first place, and so He will do anything to make it achieve its purpose – as long as you allow Him to.
Recently, God brought me some people who have helped mentor me on relationships. I did not go looking for them, but because God owns seasons and times, He knew it was time for me to learn about marriage. I can say my mind is completely changed, and am thankful for everyone who has contributed to this mind shift.
Basically, these are some of the things you need to do before walking down the aisle:
- Learn self control. Self control is a wide topic, and can help determine if someone is mature enough for marriage. For one, you need to learn how to delay gratification. As Drs. Townsend and Cloud put it in their book ‘Boundaries in Dating,’ “If someone is able to respect the limit of hearing no for sex, then that is a character sign of someone who can say no to their own desires and hungers in order to serve a higher purpose, or to love another person.” Yes, abstaining from sex during courtship is a great indicator of a healthy marriage in days to come. You do not want someone who cannot wait for you to come back from a trip because they are ‘burning with passion.’ This is the same person who will sleep with every Tom, Dick and Harry because they ‘looked sexy’ or had great abs. You do not want someone who falls to every seductive trap of flirting eyes or lips. If you are to sacrifice on your hobby, money and friends for the sake of the family, you have to learn how to delay gratification.
Patience is another aspect of self control. Love is always patient. If you lack patience, you cannot handle marriage. Patience helps you to deal with anger, and to wait – for that child to be born, for that food to be cooked, for that partner to answer to your call, to win the acceptance of in-laws, and to correct your children.Patience does not give up easily. As one of my mentors taught recently, “If you give up easily, don’t get married- you will give up every day.” If you have a resigned spirit, cannot wait on the queue, you need to work on your patience before saying ‘I do.’
- Set proper boundaries-with yourself, family, colleagues, and friends. This will help you to set priorities right, and respond to situations with wisdom. It will also help you to respect others, and earn their respect back.Learn healthy conflict resolution mechanisms. The other day my friend asked me: “Do you know why some couples can go for days without talking to each other?” It’s not because they are poor communicators – you have heard that silence is golden, but this is not the silence that is eating into marriages. It is poor conflict resolution skills. And pride is a major contributor. If you are too proud to say sorry when you are in the wrong, you are not fit for marriage. In the same manner, if you are not mature enough to confront your partner when they wrong you, do not get married. Learn to bring everything to the table and talk about it – in a healthy manner. Your partner should be your best friend, and for this reason, you need not be afraid of saying anything. If there are things you cannot share with your partner, you are not the right match. Friends strive to keep their relationship, and are always there for each other. If you are the kind that goes quiet when wronged or in the wrong, do not get married – you will torment your partner for the rest of their lives.
- Work on your spirituality. Man is a religious being, and so you have to look up to some higher authority. A Christian understands that God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of everything. If you want your marriage to last, invite God to be the bond that keeps you together. He is the One who will ‘service’ your marriage so it won’t break down. Learn to acknowledge His place and authority over your union, and you will succeed. For this reason, it is important to establish the spiritual maturity of your partner before settling down. If they cannot submit to God, they will always ‘Lord’ it over you.
- Learn how to give. First, you need to understand the needs of your partner. In a recent conversation with one of my mentors, I learnt that a man has 4 main needs namely; respect, food, information and sex. Yes, men ought to be good listeners so they can be able to pick relevant information from their wives’ conversations. On the other hand, a woman needs; love, affection, appreciation and approval.
Remember you can be the right person with the wrong person or vice versa. As you work on becoming the right partner, make an effort also to pick the right partner. It is better to break a courtship than to break a marriage. Take your time to prepare for marriage, and demand the best from your partner. However, do not expect your partner to be perfect; just establish their character and learn to handle their flaws. You cannot change them, but as long as you understand and accept them as they are, you can forge a formidable union in marriage. As someone once told me, marriage is not a competition. You do not get married because others are getting married, or because you are growing old.