Entertainment of Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Like most people, I hardly paid attention to the advice people shared about marriage during my engagement a few years ago.
In reality, the day of the engagement or the wedding is the worse time to offer advice about life and marriage to the new couple. Their minds are primarily occupied with the myriad of activities buzzing around them, the wedding cake arriving on time, the photographer staying off the booze, the groom men lusting after the bridesmaids and wrapping up the festivities without any hiccups.
If you’ve lived through a marriage or a relationship with kids and had to make the tough decision to separate from your partner, you can come away battered and bruised. With time and hindsight, however, comes discernment and wisdom and single parents and divorcees with kids have an abundance of both.
Interesting enough, we don’t always hear the voices of single parents and divorcees with kids during engagement and marriage ceremonies. Folks sometimes view us as failures; not realizing that some of us hold the map to the pitfalls new couples need to avoid in marriages.
“As far as you both has accepted to marry each other, remember he may never change. If he used to beat you when you were dating, he may continue to beat you throughout the marriage. If he was stingy, he will be stingy throughout the marriage. Sometimes, it is better to call it off when you have too many red flags.” – Divorced mum with children; Deutschland, Germany
“I made the mistake of electing to be a homemaker even though my ex-husband was against the idea. In time and as the kids grew older, I lost my ability to be a valued contributor and found myself at a distinct disadvantage just before the marriage ended. I struggled during and after the divorce proceedings because I was in a weak position.
I had no way of proving that I could take care of my kids financially. It took 20 years for me to start benefiting from my education and gain financial independence. My advice is simple, do not let your education and skills go to waste when you get married.” – Divorced mum with children, New York
“I discovered a stark reality during my marriage. Sometimes you won’t feel love toward your partner especially when you start hitting the rough patches in life. During my marriage, there were times when I had to intentionally love my husband.
Every time I forgave him for cheating, my love for him diminish yet I chose to intentionally love him. I ended up getting hurt in the end because he was honest about his lack of love for me. I will no longer intentionally love someone.” – Divorced mother of one; Chicago, Illinois
“I wore a lot of hats when I was married; mum, maid, teacher, counselor, cook, financial planner, part-time breadwinner and Unselfish lover. I became so consumed with making everyone happy, I sacrificed the little joys in life which used to make me happy. I should have made time for theatre because there was time; I should have made time for my friends because there was time; I should have made time to build my career because there was time.
There was enough time but I gave mine up while everyone else invested theirs in the little things which made them happy. My advice to new couples; make time for the things you used to enjoy before the marriage and after.” – Divorced Mum with 2 kids, Maryland, USA
“I stayed in an unhappy marriage longer than I should have because I thought it would be better for the kids. She was very unhappy and not satisfied with most of the things I did. There was a lot of negativity in our house and the kids saw it, felt it and started acting out. It was at that point that I realized that this was not what I wanted for my kids.
I was too afraid to be a single dad and forgot to realize that I was thinking more of how society will view me versus seeking happiness for my kids. My kids do not have a family home now but the negativity they experienced is gone and they are much happier. Staying in an unhappy and broken marriage because of your children may end up having the opposite effect on them.” – Divorced dad with 3 kids, Kumasi
“I quickly descended into having obligatory sex because I believed that if I don’t have sex frequently, my husband will be tempted to cheat or go after other women. It took me a while to realize that I was doing a lot of things sexually for my husband out of fear.
I discovered during our divorce that he got tired and bored of having sex with me because I wanted it all the time. He was worried about not been able to satisfy my weekly overtures. He wanted to pace things out rather than have sex just to have it. Never assume you know each other’s sexual needs during a marriage and do not please each other out of fear.
Fear breeds only discontent.” – Separated mother with one child, Accra
“To the man, if you want to have a peaceful marriage, just get this simple notion; If she makes some money, it’s for her, but if you make some money, it’s for you both. If you get this from the beginning, I promise u a happy marriage life.” – Single dad with one child, Accra
“Criticize gently. Don’t judge too harshly. If you have to criticize, do so the same way you would want others to criticize you. Be kind and considerate at all times” – Single mum with one child, Tema
“A lot of people learn what marriage is about after they are married. I found this assertion to be wrong. The definition of marriage is different for different people. What is your fundamental reason for getting married? This is a very important question that has to be addressed while dating.” – Divorced mum with children; Houston, Texas
“What worked for the couple next door may not work for you. Make decisions to make it work and keep to your decisions. Embrace every new thing you learn about your partner and let it help you to relate to each other better. There’s no perfect marriage. Keep in mind you’re both not perfect and learn to forgive each other at all times.” – Single Mother with one child, Accra
“On the engagement day: Remember you CHOSE to love this person. Love is not a feeling. Marriage is NOT all about ‘living happily ever after’. You CREATE your own happily ever after; it’s not automatic. You are each other’s best friend. Whoever you each had as a best friend now becomes second (note that I did not say they exist no more as partners still need to maintain their individuality in a marriage) Most importantly talk to each other about anything and everything!” – Separated mother with children; London, England
“Once two agree to marry, they must understand and accept the fact that marriage involves a lot of work. Lazy people cannot get marry and expect their marriage to last or be fruitful. You don’t let love blind you and believe that he /she will change after the marriage. No, it doesn’t work like that as you can’t change your spouse. Rather learn to love his or her weakness and flaws. Never compare your marriage to that of your neighbor. Put in much effort to make it work.” – Single mum with one child, Accra
“Marriage is for companionship whilst on a journey to build a family. Your partner becomes your friend and family whom you would raise your kids with. On that journey, there will be obstacles, challenges, good fortunes, mishap, joy, pain, ailments; there will be anything life can throw at you. If you don’t think you can be on that long journey with your partner, don’t say “I do”. Once you say “I do,” be ready to endure everything with that life partner. To me, marriage is not such a big deal compared to the decision to get married to someone. Don’t go into that life long journey for experimentation because you would be causing harm not only to yourself, but to the children, mothers, fathers, siblings and even friends. If you are married now, you need to believe your partner is just perfect for that “journey of creating family mission” and you would move together through it all together.”
Another things is whom you share your challenges or experiences with. Remember, you have your own mind and you will make silly decisions sometimes so if you are acting on another person’s perceptions and thoughts now, be very careful. If you are religious, speak to your God and be rest assured that His will shall prevail for you. Try to talk to few trusted persons even if you MUST share with someone. Again, you have a mind of your own and a deeper understanding of your situations so try not to be misled, giving in to your gut feeling would give you calmness compared to adherence to an unsure advice. All the best on this journey of bitter sweet stuff in what we call marriage.” – Unmarried mother with one child, Accra
“Differences in sexual libido; it’s a stereotype but not far off the mark. Most men want more sex than women and if couples have different levels of sexual libido, this can sometimes lead to problems in the relationship. Communication in this instance can be the very key in averting a partner cheating.” – Divorced father with children, Accra
“Choose your battles carefully. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn to let go for the sake of peace. Endeavour to keep issues within! Try not share too much with others. Talk issues out and handover the baton of compromise in a fair manner. Every marriage has its own unique characteristics. One size does not fit all so learn not to compare and aspire to be like another.” – Single mother with one child, Tema
“Don’t entertain outsiders in your marriage. Treat your external family; that’s mum, dad, siblings separately with wisdom and treat your wife and kids the ways you want, not how someone else wants you to.” – Divorced mother with one child, Accra
“Do not run to your mother to give her every detail about what goes on and what goes wrong with you and your spouse especially the men. A lot of men discuss their wives issues with their mothers and sisters and even their friends. This is a real deal breaker when it comes to marriage. Don’t be a little boy trapped in an adult’s body. Your wife is human too so “communicate” with her rather than outsiders. I know your mother gave birth to you but everything has its limit. Let your wife be your best friend.” – Single mother with kids, Accra
“House chores isn’t only made for women. Sometimes the man needs to help too. Imagine a working mum goes to work and comes back home to cook, take care of the kids only for the man to arrive home, sit, cross his legs and watch TV. Well, there’s nothing wrong with you watching TV but not its not okay when you can see that your woman needs help. That’s slavery.” – Unmarried mother, Accra
“Marriage is a beautiful thing when done right. To the woman:
Make sure you love this man enough that even when he wrongs you, you can find it in your heart to forgive him because you’ll encounter plenty of those moments. Marriage is not a bed of roses, it takes a lot of sacrifices, compromise, dedication to make it work. You can’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s because all that glitters is not gold, and until someone shares their inner secrets with you, don’t assume they have it all figured out.
You must always bring something to the table. Have a career outside the marriage if your husband is okay with it and if he’s not, that’s a sign of an abuser and a control freak. You must have something going for you. It keeps you going, it eliminates the pressure having to depend on your husband for everything, it gives you a sense of control over your life and it earns you respect in the marriage. Don’t neglect your home, stay connected and show love at all times not just to your future kids but to your husband as well.
Don’t make the kids your priority, your husband was there before they came and he’ll be there when they leave the house so invest time into each other so you don’t become strangers when the kids leave home. Learn to keep your own money based on whatever agreement you guys establish. Don’t waste money on unnecessary stuff and become an irresponsible mom and wife.
To the man:
As the bible says, love your wife as Christ loved the church. Love conquers all. If you love your wife, you’ll support, cherish, protect, and take care of her.
The house chores is not meant just for the woman. You have to help! The secret to getting your sexual needs met every time you want it is by giving her a hand to finish what has to be done and the rest of the time is golden!
If you want a happy and healthy marriage, know that “yes honey”, “sorry baby” will end quarrels faster than any macho moves you’ve got.
And always remember this phrase “happy wife, happy life!”
What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” – Single mom with 2 kids, U.S.A
“My dear woman just be submissive to your husband and let him love you.” – Single mum, Accra
Single parents are not perfect but most are more passionate about being parents first and being single second.
Thanks for hearing our voices!