1. The foundation is important – God’s leading, not human / fleshly leading should be beginning. God does not choose for you, but He leads you to the place of recognition and leaves the choice to you. It was God who brought Adam and Eve together, but it was Adam that said now this is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, she shall be called… (Adam choose what she was to be called). How you arrived at this woman, how you arrived at this man that you want to spend the rest of your life with is very very important, this is the foundation.
2. You are never home and dry – We met a couple in our early days in Abuja (when we were under 5 years of marriage), this couple, at that time, had been married for 12 years, but they were planning to divorce. This changed my thinking about being home and dry if you can survive the first 3 years as I initially thought. You have to keep “working” your marriage, fanning the flame of love to keep it burning.
3. Seek to understand your wife - Seek to understand women generally, but seek to understand YOUR woman particularly. Every woman is a project (a good one), I therefore believe that marrying more than one will require extraterrestrial project management skills of advanced degree. Women are very simple, at the same time they can be very complex. Every man therefore needs to make a deliberate effort to understand his woman. You cannot love someone that you do not know. Getting and understanding of your woman, will empower you to speak her love “language” and not the generic love language for women. Also know that this learning project is lifelong.
4. Love your wife – If you ask a man if he loves his wife, his response will most likely be “Yes of course”. Loving our wife is not just a recommendation, but actually a commandment from God. We all claim to love our wives, but in reality, you cannot love someone you do not know. The feeling you express at the beginning of marriage is good, but it will be tested as you get to know her more through the experiences of life. Love is not a feeling, even though feelings come with love, it is more than just a feeling. Love is a commitment to give (albeit sacrificially) to someone. There will be times when you do not feel like it, but you have to do what you need to do in her best interest, even if there is nothing in it for you (this is tough). Love is selfless and not selfishness. Love does not end (love never fails / ends).
6. Marriage is good – Marriage is God’s idea, and God’s creation. By default all that God makes is good. Whoever finds a wife, the Bible says, finds a good thing. If we are not experiencing the good that God designed marriage to be, may be the issue is that we are not doing it the way He designed, not that we are married to the wrong person.
5. Marriage requires hard work – You get up every day and go to work, because you hope to get paid at the end of the period for the work you have done. We also need to get up every day and go to work on our marriage. What you will get paid for working on your marriage can not be quantified in monetary terms, and it has effects on your life, the life of your children now, and in eternity.
6. Marriage is a big deal with God - Marriage is a representation of the union between Christ and the Church. Every marriage therefore has the awesome privilege of mimicking this divine union. How well we are able to do this, helps to better understand this union. No matter what the church does, Christ will always remain faithful to her, and not leave nor forsake her, this is why divorce should not be an option. Imagine if Christ divorces the Church because of what we do, where would we be???
7. Communication is very important – This is not new, however, how well we communicate is very important. Communication is simply listening first, and then speaking in clear terms, not just speaking, and then waiting to speak again. Breakdown in marriage begins when there is a breakdown in communication. Often times men complain that women talk too much, I usually say that if your woman is still talking, even though you say it is nagging, you are still in good shape. The day she stops talking (or nagging), that marriage has hit the rocks. Keep the communication line open, and respect each other’s opinion, do not treat it is as trivial.
8. It takes two to make it work – If a marriage is to do well and thrive, it will take both parties sharing the same vision for their marriage, and both parties being committed to themselves and the marriage. Even if the whole church or the world wants your marriage to work and the man and his wife, are not ready to give what it takes to make it work, it will never work. I have seen this over and over again.
9. Fight, but don’t run away – Anyone that says there won’t be fights (quarrels) is self-deluded. Here you have two different people coming to live together for the rest of their lives, there will have to be some adjustments. Before the adjustments take place, there will be some fights. Having disagreements is not wrong, however, not resolving the disagreements is wrong. The disagreements actually are part of the leaning process, they reveal more of your partner to you, you know what ticks him off, and what ticks her off, if you are not too engrossed in your own side of the argument.
10. You are not alone – The issues that occur in marriages are common. Do not feel like you have an issue that has never been seen before, and cannot be understood by others. It is therefore important to share, and get godly counsel from godly people (not just pastors). The only difference in our marriages is how the issues play out, but essentially they are the same, and we can learn from others that may have walked that road before, and that are committed to making marriages work. Prayerfully share your struggles with others, and seek counsel.
11. Leverage the strengths – God is such a perfect match maker that when you look at couples, you see that He has balanced out the weakness in one partner, with the strengths in the other partner and vice versa. It is important to realize this, and allow the strengths of both partners to come to the fore and strengthen the relationship. I think a lot of men make the mistake of thinking they have to be strong in all areas because they are the leader / head of the relationship. Being the head does not mean you have all the ideas, if you listen to your wife, you will be better off. Listening to her does not mean you will do what she says, but that you value her thoughts as a major stakeholder in the relationship.
12. Work on your intimacy – Intimacy is on three level, spirit, soul and body. Some of my male colleagues will be content with just physical intimacy. But the truth is, it starts from the spirit. When you pray together and share scriptures (not necessarily in a formal way) with each other, this helps to create spiritual intimacy. When you discuss feelings, thoughts, ideas, and plans with each other, this helps to create, mental intimacy. Physical intimacy should follow intimacy in these two areas. Physical intimacy without spiritual and mental intimacy is basically a gratification of lust, and not a communication of love. And when you are physically intimate, please be as sexy as you dare!!!
13. Give your wife a hand – Helping your wife around the house does not reduce you as a man, it actually makes you very “macho” in her eyes. Jesus taught us that the greatest / leader amongst us should be the servant of all. Our culture makes helping woman at home seem like a taboo, but the Bible encourages it. Help your wife take care of the children, clean the house, take out the trash, and whatever else she needs help with. Women tend to take on a lot, not ask for help, and get overwhelmed at the end of the day, so as the head of the home, once you see this happening, step in and give a helping hand, even if you are tired, remember that you are the stronger vessel.
14. Honor each other – Just as the God commands husbands to love their wives, He also commands wives to honor their husbands. Honor and respect is a heart issue, and it is a big deal for men, especially when they do not feel honorable. There are moments when men are not able to do all that they want to do, due to certain constraints (howbeit it temporary) this is the time for the wife to show the greatest honor and let him know she is his number one supporter. Do not trivialize or dismiss his plan when shared with you (however stupid you think they are), he is still struggling with these issues on the inside. At the same time, women need to be honor and respected by the men also. The Bible teaches that we should submit to each other as joint heirs of the grace of God.
15. Your words are important – It is very difficult to take words that have been spoken back, even if you say so. Even if you are able to take the words back, you cannot erase the feelings and emotions those words have created in the minds of your partner. It is therefore very very important that you are slow to speak, do not speak in the heat of your emotions. What you say may be used, or stand against you later on.
I apologize if I did not provide scriptural references for these points, I had to get the article out quickly, and I just wanted to share my heart. I say again, these may not be all the lessons learned in the past 15 years, and they may not be the most important ones, but they are the ones that came to my mind as I wrote this article.
In conclusion, I must say that writing this article has helped me to thinking more about the things I have written and learn more in the process. Also writing this article is a demonstration of love to my wife, because when she asked me to write, I was not ready to write, and it would easily have taken me a month to do the write up. However, to show her that I value her thoughts and ideas, I have written this speedily. I hope I get a reward on earth for this J. May God bless and keep you, let’s work to make our marriages a message to the world of the beauty of the union between Christ and His Church. - Kolawole Falayajo