If you are lucky, the first year of marriage is where all your claws will come out. It is the best time to get to know all of your partner’s weaknesses. It’s easy to love the sweet, kind, smart, charming person you married. However, learning to love them when they are angry, fatigued, sad, sick, lazy, dirty, untidy & broke is the hard part. & yet these are the times when real love is proven. Psychologist John Gottman can tell how long a couple will last by studying how well they don’t get along.
There will always be something new to discover about your partner after marriage, no matter how long you have been dating. & chances are, it will be something that makes your skin crawl, at least temporarily.
One of the things most couples realise especially if you marry an African is the high level of involvement of your spouses’ family in your life. From the unending family functions, random long stay visits in your home, unexpected financial support to family members ( which may occasionally need you to cancel that nice dinner or holiday you have been planning for a year)…the surprises are endless. Thing is, as long as your spouse comes from a close knit family, they will be a big part of your lives. This is much harder to adjust to for someone who has been living alone for a long time, always having their own space, spending money on (mostly) themselves and then suddenly bam! 2 in-laws are living in your house. Much as the adjustment is difficult, the best thing to do is to accept the situation and make the most of it. These are people who your spouse loves and cares for. Caring for them and creating a bond with them is part of how you show your spouse love. Think about it, how happy would you feel seeing your husband and your brother becoming great friends who watch sports together, go for drinks together, etc? Isn’t it wonderful seeing the people you love get along? That’s the kind of relationship you need to create with your in-laws.
Financial issues can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional instability. Even Aristotle admitted that it is hard to be happy when poor, & that poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. In fact all marriage counsellors should focus on this topic when advising couples before marriage: How to deal with financial issues in marriage. Actually counsellors should even link couples with financial advisors beforehand. It is serious guys. How financial issues are solved in the home can make or break a society.
Now, here’s the truth: a man should be in charge of finances in a family. (I know feminists are cursing me right now, but it is true.) Finances are a man’s responsibility. & though it is understandable that sometimes the lady may need to assist with paying for a few things, it is ultimately the man’s responsibility and if a woman takes over it should only be temporary. It is in a man’s nature to lead in marriage & financial leadership is key. Letting a man lead financially includes lowering your expectations when his wallet is empty (or close to empty). It means reducing your financial demands until he gets back on his feet, & he will get back on his feet faster if you support him, emotionally. So for the ladies, do not ever make a major financial decision (house to live in, buying a car, expensive holidays,etc) without the permission of your husband, no matter how much you earn.
The realisation that you have now made a commitment and this is your lifetime partner & there is no backdoor can be scary. So after a fight you can not just go back to your place like you used to when you were dating. Neither can you dump the person. They are here to stay, for life. & even if you try and make them sleep on the couch (don’t do this though, no matter how bad of a fight you have had, always sleep on the same bed. The warmth alone of your partner by your side even if there’s a big pillow in between will make you want to patch things up)…anyway, as I was saying, even if you make them sleep on the couch, you will still see them around the house the next day and then you remember “I’m stuck with this one” 🙂
Oh, these are not the only surprises in the first year of marriage…We’ll let you absorb these before we get to part 2.