I have been married for a year now. The days have gone by so quickly, it feels like Waturi and I walked down that aisle and said “I do” to each other only a month ago. There are many things that I have learned in my rookie tenure as a married man. I will share them with you. Hopefully it will encourage, teach and inspire a few souls reading this.
1. You win before you start
I’ve learnt that marriage is the only institution where you get your certificate before you complete the course. Many drop out along the way but even a potential divorce does not stop the officiator from giving out a license when couples say “I do.” With this in mind, I discover that my marriage has what it needs to make it until the “till-death-do-us-part” finish line.
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2. Saying your vows is not important
Saying your vows is not as important as doing them. Making a promise to be faithful for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad times does not make you capable; it makes you accountable. Speaking a promise does not give you the ability to do it. I have learnt that I still have to keep my eyes off other women. I have learnt that being married does not guarantee that I will be happy all the time. I have to choose to speak lovingly even when I am unhappy. I have to choose to be home early even if the meeting with my pal is going great and I haven’t seen him in a while. My wife is my priority before my own parents, family and closest friends. It doesn’t happen automatically, I choose to make it so.
3. Lust does not respect my marriage
I had a false notion that if I got married, every threat of lust would flee my life. Not true. I have found myself to be very careful around the opposite sex. I still have to be clear about sexual boundaries. For some strange reason, it seems that ladies find a married man more appealing (I could be wrong). I have learnt by God’s grace not to entertain their admiration, and if I must allow their admiration, it should be done with a thank-you 10 feet away. It cannot be done with a hug, a kiss, a rub, an embrace or a lets-catch-up-for-coffee. Every married man has a lot of potential to welcome lust in their marriage. Lust does not respect my marriage, I have no reason to respect it. 1 Corinthians 10:12 “So if you think you are standing, be careful that you do not fall.”
4. Divorce is not for deviants
In my quiet time recently on a Tuesday, I asked the Lord what to pray about concerning my marriage. Tuesdays are when I commit my marriage to God. In a conviction, He impressed upon my heart to pray against divorce. I was shocked because I believed that Waturi and I were nowhere in that direction. I called my wife and we prayed about it. She too was surprised when I asked God to protect us from it. Before she asked me why I prayed it, the Lord impressed in her heart the answer: “Thanks for praying about that Ernest. It is not automatic that our marriage will work out. We need God to hold us together.” Well-meaning men and women can labour all their efforts and still end up in a divorce. I have understood that Christ has a power to hold my marriage together, not my experience.
Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things and in him all things hold together.”
5. Marry your friend!
I have no idea what I would do in our home if Waturi was not my friend. Our friendship has deepened! You don’t lose your friend when you marry them; you gain them more. Waturi and I enjoy hanging out together. She and I have more fun together than when she is hanging out with the girls and more than when I am hanging out with my boys. In fact, on our anniversary date, after a day well spent in a fine restaurant and having her favourite dessert, we ended it at home in conversation and I recall her saying, “Wow! This is the life.” Because she is my friend, making a choice between football Fridays with the boys and movie nights with her is a no brainer. The wife wins! I have also seen that my male friends respect my wife when I choose her over them. They realize that I honour her therefore she must be honourable. As Timothy Keller says, “Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect.” A friend, every man does need.
6. It pays to lose
My marriage has had great days when I have decided to lose. How? I have decided that our agreements are guidelines and not contracts. Our agreement that she does the house cleaning is not a contract that binds her; it is a guideline that helps allocate responsibility when things go wrong. Once my wife was away for a day in the weekend. I knew she would be stressed to return to find a home with dust and dirty shoes. She definitely wouldn’t be looking forward to 4 hours of cleaning. So I cleaned the entire house (except the shoes). When she returned, she was speechless! She almost cried because I took up her responsibility. I don’t see our roles as win-lose options when they are not fulfilled. I see them as either lose-lose or as win-win. It’s a lose-lose if the house is dirty because we both live in it. It’s a win-win if the house is clean because we both live in it.
7. You make mistakes
Waturi and I have made mistakes in the past one year. God has been faithful to show them to us each time in our private quiet times and in our dates and discussions. There are times I should not have picked that phone call late in the night. There are times she should not have listened to wrong advisers. There are times that I should have helped her around. There are times we should have placed boundaries with other men and women who may not respect the marriage. And as you make these mistakes, a teachable spirit will stop you from making them twice.
8. I work harder
Marriage, contrary to popular belief, has taught me to work harder. I have been more inspired to physically look good to my wife so I exercise my body each morning. I do an extra task to earn an extra note to take her on an extra date. I wake up an hour earlier some weekends to surprise her with breakfast that I cooked. I am aware that any girl can be pleased with these things and so must my wife. Marriage isn’t the end of doing these things that make a girl blush. Marriage is the start of it! When other ladies envy what my wife has, I know I am in the right direction. My ambition to work is driven by the desire to see her fulfilled, to honour Christ and to make her the most loved and envied and in doing so be an example to other men. I have learnt that my desire to serve her is more important than my need to be served.
9. Men must lead
I have been given a helper. She cannot help if there is nothing to help in. Turi has been a strong support when I published my first novel,The Human Temple. She has been a strong support as I publish the second Lust and the City. She has been a support when I began our evening Bible devotions. She has been a support when I allocate our monies, tithes and wealth. She has been a support at best where I lead. I therefore allocate her duties but I take full responsibility for whatever initiative the family plunges in successfully or unsuccessfully.
10. Our marriage is not for us
The marriage we have is not selfishly for us alone. God has clearly in the past one year brought people who are going through what we did i.e. courtship and dating. These people have struggled with things Waturi and I struggled with while we dated. We became vulnerable with our lives and we have seen God use our stories to heal people who are caught in addictions, sexual struggles, unforgiveness, lack of devotion to God and many more symptoms. We have realized that God is using us “for such a time as this” to inspire a hopeless soul that the first year is not a bad year, to strengthen a weary soul to wait for sex until marriage, to establish a confused soul to love the Lord more than their boyfriend, to listen to a broken heart that just needs to be listened to even when we don’t have a solution.
So one year down… probably 70 more to go and we’re looking forward to every hour of it!
By Ernest Wamboye