Last weekend, my brother-in-law and his beautiful bride exchanged vows, and if you know me you can imagine how giddy I was.
I’m a relationship enthusiast, and I really do love watching loved ones get married. There’s something about the ceremony, be it traditional or religious, that is deeply moving for me. When it comes to “white weddings”, many people are content to skip church and head to the reception, but for me, the service is where it’s at.
As I listened to my lovely sister-in-law say her vows (and answer ‘I will” before the pastor asked her, sisteh cool dahn!) I felt a mild ache in my heart. Does she know? Is she ready? They’d been through premarital counselling, and they’d probably had extra lessons from kind older couples around, but nothing prepares you for the reality of marriage. That’s the truth. Teaching engaged couples how to be married is like trying to teach driving without a car.
There’s no one thing that makes marriage different from what one expects (though they tend to be grouped under certain umbrellas) and at this point in my life there is precious little that can shock me. Between my intimate little group of 30+ wives, and the totally real women at my church’s women meetings, I’ve learnt that marriage can throw anything at you. Nollywood has got nothing on real life. Take it from someone who was darn sure she was ready for marriage. Brethren, I was not readyyyyy!
Wondering what kinds of things no one has the heart to tell a bride? Here we go:
1. If he is your “everything” the bottom will fall out of your world sooner or later. No exceptions whatsoever. The butterflies will fly away. I rarely make absolute statements but I will make this one: Your awesome, wonderful, loyal, kind, AMAZEBALLS husband will let you down, you can’t even imagine how badly. And if it doesn’t break you it will make you a stronger, more grounded and genuinely beautiful woman. Even if he’s not your “everything” it will only be a teeny weeny bit less devastating.
2. Your empathy will grow as you find yourself understanding things you never thought you’d understand. There are things you say you don’t “get” right now. Why she left her marriage, why she stayed in her marriage, why women cheat, why women keep secrets from their husbands, even why women murder their husbands. None of these things has to happen to you; you will just come to understand. Your turned up nose will turn right down and you will not only get off your high horse, the horse will be set ablaze…unless you’re a hypocrite.
3. You will learn that there is no one way to do marriage. With patience, understanding, commitment and kindness, you will both work something out. This something may be different from what you thought was the ideal, but it will be your very own. And you will learn not to apologise to anybody for it.
4. You will have to work extra hard to fulfil your calling. You were an individual before you got married, and even when the two become one, you’re still a person with your own passion, talents and purpose. If you will make your mark in the world, it won’t just happen. You’ll have to make it happen. Marriage has a way of sucking you in, especially when the kids come, and it doesn’t help that people will lend more importance to your marriage than to anything you’ve done before. As if!
5. Some days you’ll feel married, other days you won’t. Sometimes you will feel lost in your own life. And from time to time you’ll miss being single. This is totally normal; it does not mean you’re not happy in marriage, or that you’re not cut out for wifehood. It’s just the way it is.
6. Contrary to what you may think now, you’re not going to be the perfect wife, he’s not going to be the perfect husband, and you’re not going to be the perfect couple. People seeking perfection should not get married. We’re all flawed, and marriage does not fix anything. If you weren’t okay before marriage, marriage won’t make you okay.
7. You can be happy in marriage, sometimes so deliriously happy that it feels like all of us who tried to warn you about this and that were just prophets of doom. Then number one happens…
I’ll be here when you need a hug and a shoulder, sis.