Tuesday, 21 July 2015

7 Lessons I Learned After 31 Years of Marriage

First of all, as of today at the exact time of writing, 31 years ago I was standing at the altar of my church exchanging vows. They were the old fashioned vows where I  promised to love, honour and obey and my husband promised to have and to hold. love and to cherish me until death parted us.

Solemn words for a solemn act.

And that's what marriage is. It's a solemn undertaking not to be held lightly but guarded closely.

I could easily change the title of this post to 31 Lessons from 31 years of marriage but time does not afford so let me share seven major lessons.

1. Marriage was the best thing I ever did. Surrendering my right to be solo and to join with my husband has been both empowering and liberating. Marriage does not trap you, it releases you. Releases you to express yourself completely as a human being. There are some things that are kept for marriage for a reason. Good reason. Marriage requires vulnerability and nakedness, both emotionally and physically. It requires truth in the inward parts like nothing else. Yet it yields the greatest rewards. 

Despite what society implies, marriage is a good thing. A powerful institution and a sure foundation upon which to build families, the bedrock of society.

2. A good piece of advice is to remove the word divorce from your vocabulary.  With this in mind you will think carefully and thoroughly about whom you marry. You won't rush in. It's for life.  You will look further than his handsome looks and her beauty. You will look for character and integrity.  It doesn't matter how well he wears a suit or how much his touch gives you butterflies, if he cannot be trusted or has shown himself to be unworthy he will not make a good husband. 

It doesn't matter how many admiring glances she gets from other men making you feel proud to be beside her, if she is deceitful or arrogant she will not love you freely and be a good wife.  When you know you're marrying for life, take time to know your intended.  Get to know their family.  Get to see their values played out, see how they treat others.  See if they're good people.  Once you've made the choice you must trust you have made the right one and commit.

3. Commitment. Remember there will always be a man who can give you more.  Maybe give you a bigger house,  buy you  higher  brand  clothes, take you on exotic holidays or who is more educated and commercially successful than your husband. There will always come a man who has a better swag and better looks. That's not the point.  Marriage  is not based any of those things . You have committed to your man. That's it.

There will always be a woman who has a better figure and nicer looks, who is younger and firmer.  A woman who cooks better than your wife and  who seems to understand you better,  who is more articulate than your wife.  Marriage is not based on these. You made a commitment to your wife. You vowed to honour her with your body and all your worldly goods. So rejoice with her and let her breasts satisfy you. 

With your help,  love, admiration and support your partner can get better not just older. A man will walk taller in life if he has the admiration of his life partner,  his wife.  A woman  will have that 'something' and that sparkle  when she knows her husband treats her likes she's number 1. And only.

4. Your partner comes before your children. As a couple your children  are your priority.  Everything you do is for them. But you both must be in sync when raising them. Don't take their side against your wife.  Don't take their side against your husband.

5. Appropriate boundaries at all times. Don't tell out all your business to your friends. Don't tell out all your business to your family.  Everybody doesn't get to have a say about your wife. Everybody doesn't get to have a say about your husband.

In laws, no matter how well meaning, have to respect you as a couple and not feel they can tell you what to do. Husbands, your wife is the number one woman in your life. You respect and honour your mother but you are one flesh with your wife and you are to cleave to her. Wives, your husband is your first refuge and port of call if there's trouble, not your dad.

Ladies, your girlfriends don't need to know what's happening and all your latest arguments or difficulties.  Marriages become very crowded when there's a need to get girlfriends involved. Men are less given to this but the same rule applies.

6. Older and experienced couples who have relationships you admire, keep them as mentors and friends. Go to them if you want help or advice.  Choose people you can trust and who share similar values to you. All marriages go through difficulties at times and their experience will inform the advice and counsel they give to you.

7. Let there be love. Show love to each other in all its richness and forms.  Be each other's best friend. Give support and a listening ear. Give yourself sexually to each other,  it's God's way of reinforcing your union and your bond, that's why it's kept for marriage.  It will tie you together at your souls. It will keep her his soulmate, and it will keep him hers. 

Speak highly of each other. Respect each other and daily ask God for His grace and favour.  Marriage is God's idea and He is the only one that can help us to live it.

Patricia Benjamin
Life Coach, Love & Relationship Coach
BEFFTA Best Radio Personality
Sound Women 200 List
Christian Women in Media International
Top 100 Most Influential Black People in Digital / Social Media