Marriage is an institution that will either bring out the best in you or the worst in you. Marriage is a very beautiful institution. I personally think if you do it for the right reasons, it can definitely have very fulfilling outcomes for you, especially if you do it with the right person. ( that doesn’t mean it is the only path to living a fulfilling life because fulfillment can come from so many different aspects of our lives). However, what interests me the most with this marriage topic, is the money that is made as a result of the existence of this legally and formally recognized the union. There is so much hype about the wedding day, the wedding industry makes a whopping $300 billion a year worldwide, with over $50 billion in the US only. It’s not only about the wedding, even before the wedding day, there is the mega engagement. It’s about the ring with a big diamond since we got fooled by the De Beer’s family that engagement rings needed to have diamonds. Then of course, after the wedding, comes the marriage counsellors and the divorce lawyers. And the divorce industry is worth over $50 billion in the US alone according to IBIS World report. Marriage is a very intriguing institution and there is a lot that is good about it, and I think anyone with the intention of pursuing marriage, is doing the right thing for themselves. However, considering how much is spent for the wedding, and sometimes, counsellors and divorce lawyers if the marriage is struggling or not working, it just makes me wonder, how many of us really take the time to invest in ourselves, to work on ourselves before we get into this life long journey? Much hype is made about the wedding, a few smart couples go for pre-marital counselling, but, it doesn’t have as much impact on a person, compared to the work they have to do themselves. This article today, is focused on some questions you should be able to answer if you intend to marry someday.
1) What is your relationship with God? I’m not referring to going to church every Sunday in your best outfit. I mean, how do you relate with God? Do you trust Him with all your undertakings? Do you seek his face in all your decisions, and do you know how to get on your knees and talk to him? Because in marriage, your knees will be one of your strongest weapons. While you work on finding Mr or Mrs. Right, seek to find God first, body, soul, mind and spirit, and He will align your paths.
2) How do you handle your finances? Do you make budgets or just spend money when it’s in your account? As a single man or woman, your finances should always be a top priority. Are you an impulsive buyer? If so, start working on it. When people get married, finances are huge, they have led to so many divorces especially when people are incompatible in their spending habits or money decisions. In order for couples to plan for their financial future, there needs to be a budget and both parties need to be on board. If you work on managing your money right, and building good money habits, you will bring in the good habits and teach the other party if they are lacking.
3) Are you patient and forgiving? This is so important, reason being, big problems usually start from small resentments that are not forgiven. Start looking at your relationships with your friends and family, if you stay angry over small disagreements for long, then you need to work on that. Do a personality inventory. Ask your “HONEST” friends about your flaws, especially when it comes to holding grudges and being intolerant or being impatient. Start working on it with friends and family, don’t take things to heart and apologize when you do wrong immediately. Marriage comes with too many nuisances that can escalate if kept for a long time.
4) What habits can you let go? There are certain habits that will ruin a marriage in a heartbeat, and others will just delay the growth of the relationship or union. If you love girls’ night out or guys’ night out, that is fine, but work on limiting them from every weekend to once a month if possible. Reason being, most of your life will be spent at home, dealing with everyday stuff. Being mentally prepared for those evenings when your friends are hanging out and you can’t join them is extremely important. Your spouse needs to become your best friend, so prepare your mind for that transition so you don’t have to feel trapped once you do it. Sometimes, there are married people living like single people; married men or women at every bar or nightclub from Thursday evening to Sunday night. You can’t build a happy home that way. This is because they didn’t prepare themselves. Just work on the habits that could affect your future marriage such as flirting with you numerous men or women for the sake of it or too much social media or listening to other people’s opinions about your personal matters. These habits are harder to change in marriage, it becomes more of a struggle and could cause a lot more harm and hurt that will need to be worked on twice as hard.
5) Can you keep your own secrets? There is nothing wrong with having a trusted friend you can share your burdens with. However, you have to learn to not make your problems those of the world. Like every time you get mad, you go straight to social media and update your status or start calling all your friends and family. If you are considering marriage, it means you are matured enough. Choose your audience wisely. Because when he comes to building your home, telling your problems to the world will escalate them to levels you have to work a lot harder to fix. Plus, once you talk bad about your spouse you can never undo it, even if you make peace inside your bedroom, people outside will still disrespect your spouse. So start now, start learning how to keep your own secrets. Your stomach will not explode with your own secrets. Talk to God, and your “real” friends, if you have to, but make sure to work on it.
6) How do you make decisions? Are you a “my way or the highway” decision maker? If so, start seeking challenging situations where you can listen to others’ opinions. Even if you are right, and you have figured something out, you need to listen to the other people. No one knows it all. It becomes especially harder in marriage if you think you are smarter than your spouse, but because you married them, you need to get their opinion and get a consensus. Start listening to your friends’ and family’s opinions. If you always have the final say, slow down, and let someone else do. Don’t be imposing.
7) What are you bringing to the table? If you haven’t made it yet career wise, or started that dream business, no problem, so long as you are working towards it. Gone are the days when people got married just to procreate. Now, people want supportive spouses, emotionally, spiritually, physically and more often now, FINANCIALLY. This goes to both men and women. Don’t sit down assuring yourself that you will marry a rich man and be a stay-home mom(nothing wrong with that) or marry that successful pharmacist or nurse and she will take care of the bills while you chill with your guys. Please get over yourself. The working party can only accommodate you for so long. Taking care of a family is quite a heavy financial burden, and when both spouses put their heads together, it becomes easier. If you meet your spouse and one of you makes enough for the family, and agree for the other person to stay home and raise the kids, fine. But that should not be your base. Bring something to the table. So make every effort to work on your career or business. Have something working for you, because tomorrow, God forbid the man or woman you marry passes away, you will have to continue taking care of the family you guys have created.
8) Finally, are you open to kids? Not everyone wants kids, but they are not honest about it. If you want to have a career that doesn’t give you room for making babies, be sure to make that known to your future spouse, because kids come with a lot of blessings but demand a lot of sacrifices too. Don’t be one of those married women who are always feeling like they missed out on a dream career because of kids. It’s okay to know what you want, but be honest, and don’t marry someone who wants 5 kids, and then start feeling miserable when they want to make more babies. Same goes for a number of kids. Sometimes, a person’s mindset changes after marriage, but be honest and open.
I could never exhaust this list. But one thing remains for sure if you’re planning to get married, do the work. Work on yourself. Of course, you cannot tell what the other person will bring on board, but coming prepared is a good starting point. Anyone will be willing to work with a selfless person who is prepared to make the marriage work.
Marriage definitely has a lot more challenges, and until you are in it, you can never understand or get it. However, when you work on yourself, it will not prevent problems and disagreements from happening, but it will make the path easier to navigate. If you learn to be close to God, if you learn to be forgiving, accepting of others’ flaws and opinions, cutting off those midnights random text messages from random irrelevant people, then you will be many many steps ahead of other couples who have to start learning all these only after they get married and start living together. The divorce rate in America is over 50%, and you can work on making your future marriage divorce-proof. This doesn’t mean you can prevent a divorce from happening if the other person is selfish and unwilling to make it work, but one thing I know for sure is that, when you do your part, you sleep better at night.
If you are single and you enjoyed reading this article, you are already many steps ahead, Good luck!!! If you still have to work on yourself, it is never too late to start doing so. For the married people reading, what do you think single people should work on before tying the knot? Or, what aspects of your life, do you wish you had worked on while single instead of doing so while married?
By Lilly Mbinglo
Social Columnist for BaretaNews
God is still saying something.