Have you ever wondered why it is that at the onset of a romantic relationship, butterflies are forever floating, smiles exchanged and hearts fluttering but right around the defining turn of true commitment, doubt ensues, and the feet that were once ready to jump into the river of love with arms flailing joyfully become frozen at the gate leading to a lifetime of companionship? Well, I have.
And if you’ve ever decided to get into a serious romantic relationship you will agree that it is no easy feat. While the beginning almost always seems like fun, the point at which commitment sets in is usually followed with big choices. Some of these pronouncements can be so grave that they cause a change of heart.
The mystery is that the timing of events occurring at the ‘exclusive phase’ of courtship often collude to make the committal an opportune time to hear the worst about either partner. How these sources come together for all reasons evil is a phenomenon often overlooked. There are two ways this phenomenon proactively penetrates individuals to inject doubt and conflict.
Take for example the couple that decides to get married after a few months of courtship. Relatives, friends, and total strangers will undoubtedly call up the mother of the bride or the distant cousin of the husband-to-be to express their “concern” about their choice of spouse; revealing unconfirmed gossip about the unfortunate target of this concern. “He is a user I tell you. If you don’t leave him now, he will leave you right at the altar,” cautions the friend of a friend.
When Cleo chose to marry, she called this period of testing of her relationship ‘the refiners fire’. “I simply turned all the haters into goldsmiths and my pending marriage, the gold, they (refiners) worked hard to make my future marriage the purest of gold”. Of her general feelings towards these haters she said, “I did not hit back or hate them for life. I only understood that they were doing what they believed must be done at the announcement of an engagement.”
Many relationships today are like secret agreements. On the surface, a spouse vows to love, trust, protect, serve the other but continues to outwardly and perhaps subconsciously display irrational insecurities that damage the relationship fatally. These insecurities stem from a long and deep-rooted issue concerning how we view marriage. And by we, I mean our 20 – 40 some things, highly educated, high-powered job and or aspiration of one, socially loved, and competitive.
We are the fast movers, the trendsetters, and sometimes unashamedly refer to ourselves as the leaders of the future generation. We live in a world clouded by corporate image, company rivalry, and social competitiveness, even with our own friends. You ask how this is connected to marriage? Let me share with you the story of Issa.
He considered himself quite the handsome young man, great sense of humour, and loads of doting friends, female and male alike. He wasn’t pompous or arrogant, and thought himself easy to get along with, and equally easy to please.
He has just turned 30 and word has begun to spread around every circle he spends time in. His friends convince him, almost vaingloriously that he is so handsome, so kind, so wonderful, and possibly the best mate a girl can find. His parents love him but they can’t help the slight reservation and the opportunity to hint about grand kids any chance they get. His friends (guys and girls) are getting married every Saturday, and those who aren’t are engaged and inviting him for wedding meetings, asking for contributions until he cannot equate love to a lasting, worthy, lifetime union but rather a money making stunt.
After all, half of his friends are cheating on their spouses, having problems, some separating every weekend only to make up again. Why then did Issa long for something as daunting as it seemed? Something inside him still wanted to unite with someone who would take the time to know him, to cherish him, supporting him in the good and bad of life. He longed for children of his own so he could lavish all his love on them. He wanted companionship.
Outside, the world screeched at him, even demanded that he get married! “Doesn’t matter to whom, just start a family!” But Issa took his time. He made a pact with God, and although his time was running out, he knew God would come through. Thirty would be the age he got married. When shove came to pull, he focused his energies on listening to God for ‘the one’ rather than all these social demands.
In that little time, he met a girl J (this is a true story I insist). The more time Issa spent with this girl, the more he realized he had never taken the time to prepare himself for a lifetime of love and responsibility. He had found her and could not let her go although he knew he had a lot of work to get through to make himself the husband he thought he was ready to be. They shared their dreams, talked about their love for God. Their foundation was solid.
That didn’t stop the ‘friends’ from talking. It didn’t stop the cultural differences to be brought out in the open. The very people that told him how wonderful he was, now tried so hard to shoot down his ego, and Issa didn’t get it. Here was, expecting joy from all the friends he’d shared a lifetime of experiences with, and all he got was half-hearted support.
Issa is now in his third year of marriage and if you ask him, he’d tell you, it’s not about what other people say about you or about what you have. It is all about what you’ve got to give and how you’re preparing yourself to give it all. He will share with you that society has failed to define his marriage. Why?
Because he has allowed God to determine and guide his steps in the journey of who he is in Him. He has preserved the sanctity of His union to his wife by keeping their lives together as private as possible. He has remained honest, even in his hardest, lowest, moments, bearing his soul (as shameful as it was) to his one and true companion, his wife. He did not shut out the voice that told him to be a better man than his father, brothers, and friends. He continued to present his very best not looking for recognition or acceptance but rather to keep the wife he so adored happy.
In his third year of marriage, one child later, Issa and his wife are able to see their trust for each other, they can almost touch it. What has brought them here? Knowing who they are and bearing themselves before each other, naked, and unashamed; without fear of rejection, they have evolved to supporting each other, working together, and building God’s kingdom, their family, and serving their nation.
So, the next time someone impresses on you the need to get married, let them know that you are working positively towards being the best man, leader, husband, father, and citizen you can ever be. Are they?