Maybe because we live in a society where admitting mistakes is seen as total failure, so we only either want the whole world to know we’re happily married, and want the whole world to know how hard it is that we’re happily married. I believe marriage is not talked about enough. The seriousness of it. There are always the warnings, the do’s and don’ts genders give each other, but the intricacies in itself is always hush hush.
Falling in love is evolution’s trick to get humans to pick a mate, to have kids, so that our species carries on. You can “Men are scum” from today till next decade but someone, somewhere will hook you, and its all over. You can yearn for marriage but the first ingredient you desire is the feeling of falling in love.
So you are thinking of getting married someday. You already have someone you’re dating and you’re seeing a future? You are currently picking out your bridesmaids by some cute criteria? Or are you just generally starting to consider the whole concept of chewing one meat for the rest of your life?
Experience is the best teacher, but it’ll be nice to get tutorial classes, avoid rude shocks. I’m one year in this business, and I’m learning many things. I am trying to document many feelings/stages as I go because it’s easy to blink and life has passed by, and you can’t trace or remember what many things felt like. I have asked veterans 10 years in, what the first year felt like and it was a blur. So in case you’re wondering why you’re reading from a newbie, I’m actually your best best.
I’m aware of the luck I have with my partner, it makes carrying the burdens of marital union much easier, but it doesn’t necessarily make love easier. Love is a journey, and it is work. I said work, not Job. I mean there is so much work you’ll be doing on yourself everyday, which reflects on the general state of your relationship with your partner.
But why do things change in a marriage and how do you navigate this? You used to talk about things with your girlfriends, he was an outsider in your club. Now you found out your marriage is a cult, you and your partner are the only members, and you’re sworn to secrecy and many absurdities? You can’t even find the words to sometimes describe what is going on. Let’s call this blog post a fresher’s orientation. We will take each point, blog post by blog post.
…and expect rapid hard changes. You’ve heard this being said about life generally, this remains the first and strongest rule in Marriage. A lot of people go into marriage with selfish projection of our unmet needs. We go with illusions of what we have thought, read and heard marriage should be. All without considering the human factor.
I used to say to older veterans when I was single, that to me a committed relationship and marriage are the same thing… in many ways it still is, but with a dash of expectations. Personal and social. (Social expectations is a whole other issue). There are the obvious expectations you know; don’t marry a fat man and expect him to grow abs. Don’t marry a drunk and expect him to sober up, don’t marry an angry man and expect him not to whack you one day. But there are unspoken expectations, and more dangerously, the ones you didn’t even know you had. And when disillusionment hits, you’re on a slow decline to marital woes.
The problems in your head usually start with the sing song promises. You take the “I will do anything for you” to literally mean a man will. Oh he will, but you’ll be paying for it expensively.
A first date is basically like a job interview; two people having 2-3 hours to put their best foot forward and make the best impression. At an interview they ask you what your weaknesses are, you say something corny like ”working too hard”. Courting is a postlude of that day. But the way true colours pop out after “I do”? It’s real. Sort of like taking off your bra after a long day of putting your best boobs forward.
Expectations bring obligations, and obligations not met on both ends cause resentment. Resentment masquerades as other emotions like boredom and anger and erodes the quality of a marriage. I’ll give you a sneak peek.
There are situations I directly influenced, as soon as my marriage was 1 day old like relocating to another country. Symptoms of change and decisions are usually bigger, and because they are indirect, you can totally miss what changed. If you cannot retrace your steps, you will never know where you are headed. For me, I expected my husband will take care of me and provide all my needs. He said he would, it makes sense that he does. I also expected him to keep me company, because after all, I didn’t know any single soul in the country. He had been there for a while, he had a job, colleagues, and had made friends, I just expected to blend into that. But me having two opposite expectations started wearing the guy thin and I wasn’t even aware of the weight of my unspoken expectations. How can he have a full time job where he’s trying to show out and excel, and still come home early every night because I’m bored and alone? He wanted to keep his work life separate from his home life but all I wanted to do was meet everyone he’s ever met and be chummy. I started to feel his patience wearing out, I could feel his eyes getting thin, stretching to honour his commitments to me. See, this nigga will get home at 9pm, then we’ll head to the club and stay out till 2am, he was clearly not having any fun anymore, which in turn meant I wasn’t. So why were we even doing it? Because he never turned me down, he was being a man of his words, and maybe a smidge of feeling responsible for dragging me cross continent in the name of love. I was no longer someone to have fun with, I became duty. Spending time with me was an obligation. No one wants to fulfil duties all the frigging time of their lives. I could feel resentment setting in. Expectations bring obligations, and not met, bring resentment. I had to wake up one day and have a frank conversation with myself. After all I’m the one with front row seats to my life show, and only I can asses what is really going on.
I eventually released him from the obligations. Not as much as talking about it, but I started saying No, we stay home and eat in. No I wasn’t interested in clubbing, even if I was bored to my mind and could jump off the balcony. He could stay home and rest. Instead we picked one day of the week to have date night and he can plan towards that day at work, but every other day of the week was his. I started going to places by myself, pushed myself to make friends, temporary and permanent, and finding ways to expend pent up daily energy. And as I became happier with myself, he became happier with his marriage. He, like many men, haven been raised to feel obligations and I’ve found as a woman, there are so many things you will have to do, to help him enjoy his life, before he dies on the throne of obligations. Women also have obligations, and a true partner will have to find sneaky ways to get her to calm down before driving herself ridden with guilt of failing her mother’s assigned marital duties.
You’re the only one in the theatre of your life. Watch closely and keenly the ways you communicate your expectations to people, and rein it in now! Make it okay for people to “disappoint” you, and you just do what you want with it. Sometimes we also communicate guilt when we are disappointed, even when our mouth says “I don’t mind”, our face and bodies and actions are determined to kill the person with guilt and passive aggression.
Not only should you not have expectations in marriage, if you choose to, expect things to actually get harder. Not in a bad way, but in a way an organ transplant gets complications, medically joining two foreign organs, that didn’t “grow up” together, and expecting them to just start functioning peacefully. It’ll need several doctor follow ups, truck load of antibiotics and some few ER trips.
And there is actually one thing a person will never do; change FOR you. They can change BECAUSE of you, be influenced by what you do with your own life. But only that. Change is growth for everyone. And growth will always be an individual journey even in a union of two. What’s even worse is when someone changes in a way you don’t want them to.
Start with the little things of life, start with friends and family, expect your mentors to disappoint you, expect your pastor to have a side chick. Stop tighting life to your chest and placing people on pedestals. It’s not an easy journey but it is a journey that has to be taken regardless.
See you next week for part 2! Tata!