Marriage is sweet only when there is joy, peace and harmony in a home. When these essential ingredients are missing, romance gets sour and it appears like love does not exist. Sometime ago, a very good friend shared her story with me, and while I sympathized with her situation, I also made her understand that there is a way to go through marital battles without losing the joy in your home. Her story goes thus:
“Frederick (real name withheld) and I seemed like the perfect couple, and everyone kept saying we looked good together. One thing led to another and we eventually decided to settle down and start a family. The wedding planning went well until the wedding day. That was when I began to notice a strange Fred and something within me told me that I was in for trouble in my marriage. Two months after the wedding, our home became a battle field. All the romance in our relationship just evaporated and our lives became like hell. I still can’t understand what exactly went wrong. But we’ve survived the heat for almost five years now and our next wedding anniversary is about a week away. But I think we have finally come to the end of the road. Fred looks at me with disgust, and he despises me these days so much that I feel torn apart by our ‘loveless’ home. There is nothing like happiness in our family and even the kids can feel the tension in the air. I’m tired; I can’t do this marriage anymore.”
That was her lament to me some weeks back and I’m going to repeat the advice I gave to her, on this piece. Whether your case is similar to hers or feels even worse, there is still hope for your marriage if only you can apply the right principles. In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to be highlighting some of these very important principles.
- The right attitude: The first step to turning things around is to have a ‘no giving up’ attitude. Once your heart has backed out of the relationship, there is no good thing your spouse does that will make any sense to you. You must tell yourself that whatever the case may be, as long as there is still hope that things can work, then it must work for you and your marriage. When you are already giving up on your marriage, your spouse will naturally feel the hostility emanating from your disposition towards them. And such hostility only aggravates situations and hatred gradually fills the space of love in the heart. No one uses fire to quench fire. It is only a loving attitude that can win back a hostile partner. When everyone is trying to be right, everything goes wrong. If only both men and women can work together to bring back love and happiness in their homes, then their marriage would actually work. But when one or both parties are doing nothing to make things work, then life becomes frustrating. Marriage is a collaborative relationship; a symbiosis. You can’t keep waiting for your spouse to change when you are making zero effort to change as well. Choose to be ‘the nice guy’ or persists at being the nice guy even when your spouse is not responsive at the moment. Staying positive is always the best option.
- Be patient: Some people might find it seriously annoying to hear that word patience. Exercising patience after several years of torment? Yes, it’s very possible. If it wasn’t, our mothers and fathers in the older generation won’t keep preaching it to us. Once a marriage can recover from the foundation shaking times, the bond between the couple triples. But many of us don’t wait to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel; we just turn around at the middle and take to our heels. But if only we could endure the darkness, the light at the end of the tunnel might just turn out to be a paradise. The test of true love is to keep loving even when you don’t feel loved in return. No matter the annoyance you feel within, just a little more patience and working it out might just be the last effort you will make to ensure things work before everything turns pleasant again.
- Seek good counsel: Whether as a couple or as an individual, sometimes when situations really get out of hand, the right thing to do is to seek counsel. Seeking counsel from the right people/person also matters. Don’t seek counsel from those that would push you in the wrong direction; seek counsel with people of good integrity and positive outlook towards life. Also, study the home of your counselor very closely before making a decision to ask them for pure and undiluted counsel. A person who has failed in his or her marital life may not be the best person to seek counsel from as regards marital issues. And please ensure you don’t bottle things up more than necessary. Make sure you get help as soon as things are getting to the boiling point. Some people have even lost their lives in trying to keep their marital problems to themselves. Be wise.
- Tame the pride in you: Every human being wants to feel important and heard. But when it comes to relationship, humility is one key to winning your spouse over. Any humble woman would find it easier to win over her husband in cases of serious marital disputes. And a man is naturally a being full of ego. But as a husband, it is not every time you try to play boss. There are times you can decide to play the fool or even come to the level of your wife and even your kids, just to make things work in your home. Pride has broken many homes because people throw away the love and passion they once had for each other and focus on their ego and what others have to say about them. Don’t be too big to apologize to your spouse and don’t be too proud to own up to your mistakes. And please, this advice is meant for both the husband and the wife. No one is left out.
- Define the family boundaries: When dealing with serious marital issues, involving family members in incurring solutions should be the last resort. It is a sign of immaturity to always involve family members each time there are marriage breaking issues in the house. The reasons are simple. One is that your family members would voluntarily or involuntarily take sides with you whenever you run to them for solutions. This will only aggravate the situation and make things worse. Another reason to avoid family interference is that, in case your spouse offends you, no matter the gravity of the offense, you might forgive your spouse eventually but your family members won’t. They would keep it at the back of their hearts and maybe somehow begin to relate with your spouse with such anger in their minds; this could last for many years or even for a lifetime. Learn to maintain some level of privacy between you and your spouse if you want your marriage to succeed.
- Invite God to take over your home: God is the only true source of joy and happiness. Leaving God out of your marriage will lead to permanent frustration and perpetual sadness. Learn to take your marital issues first to God in prayer before even seeking human counsel. God is the best counselor. He will teach you the best way to relate with your spouse and make your marriage work. You don’t have to spend years or a lifetime in an unhappy marriage. There is always a way out.
Watch out for the second part of this series as we look at more tips on ‘How to bring back the happiness in your married life’. Cheers!