– REPEATING PATTERNS Marriage is a beautiful experience at the level of thought. The thought of a man and a woman in love sharing the rest of their lives together is indeed a pleasurable experience. Living together, talking together, laughing together, sharing together, sleeping together, being excited and thrilled about each other is an experience everyone should love to have and enjoy. Marriage can really be appealing at the point of just thinking about it. However, the responsibility, hurt, disappointment, sacrifice, tolerance and pressure that comes with marriage can sometimes be so overwhelming that some people have had to quit their marriage. Marriage as exciting and thrilling as it appears can be very demanding and at times outright frustrating. It takes maturity, endurance, humility, patience and grace to succeed in marriage. Hey listen, as beautiful and exciting as it is to fall in love and get married, why does it suddenly become a tough experience? What actually is the reason why that man that would travel several kilometres every weekend to come check you up in school or during service year for example, suddenly finds it difficult taking you to the market on a weekend after you’re married; he’ll rather watch his football game? What happened to that lady, whom whilst you were dating would always ask if you’ve eaten and no matter how difficult her day had been and how late it was, would still come to your hostel with food in a warmer or come cook in your room and your roommates envied you – today to cook your meal has become a struggle; it has become stressful for her? A couple, who whilst dating could not afford to be apart for one day; if any of them had to travel for a few days, it was like punishment; they would mourn the temporary separation. Today after marriage, the man works in a different city and the woman lives in a different city and both of them amazingly, are secretly glad they’re living apart? What happened? Dear friend, life can be very tricky. The truth is when you’re in love with someone, your views, perception and interpretation of the person’s attitude and behaviour is different. You always see the positive not the negative. For instance, if you’re dating a person that is laid back or lazy, you’ll tell yourself they’re calm and relaxed and don’t like stress, since they wouldn’t stress themselves so they would not stress you, you conclude, they wouldn’t be jumping around causing trouble, you’d chose to believe. On the other hand, if they’re restless; always up and about, involved in several unnecessary activities, you’ll tell yourself you like them ‘cause they’re very active and hardworking, they wouldn’t depend on you for everything, they would also earn good income and be supportive; they would be financially independent as they like to work, you’d chose to believe. The interpretation you give to the attitude of your partner before marriage is usually different from when the reality of their character hits you after marriage. Dear friend, you see, marriage is very important as it plays a critical role in anyone failing in purpose or fulfilling purpose. The person you’re married to has the capacity to destroy your destiny or enhance your destiny if you let them. I’m sharing on this topic this morning because I came across a strange couple lately. The man and his wife though claim to love each other were competing intensely in business and finance. Initially, they were both in paid employment working as bankers, after a while, the woman left her bank job and began to trade; she began to import and distribute toilet and bathroom wares and accessories and after a while, she became richer than her husband. Her husband realising this decided to quit his employment and venture into business as well; marketing industrial petroleum products, after a while he became richer than the wife, the wife realising this too went into the business of petroleum products as well, she wanted to be richer. After she ventured, her husband then decided to venture into her kind of import business as well; importing building materials from Asia. Any car the husband buys, the wife would buy a better one, the woman built her house first, the husband that same year built a bigger and better one, they both worked very hard to be richer than each other and to outspend each other, meanwhile the children were growing up without them; a man and his wife in intense financial competition. Sounds very strange but its real. You may judge this couple as sick or abnormal but dear friend I’m afraid, many of us are not very normal in our relationships and marriages. Let me explain this, you see everyone has two opportunities of family life, the first is when and where you’re a child in the family, the second is when and where you’re a parent in the family. The reality is many of us carry with us our experiences from our first family into the second family, consciously or unconsciously. For the first two to three decades of our lives we are exposed to a particular kind of family life with all the good, all the bad, all the sad and all the ugly and these exposure tends to shape and influence how we would run and manage our next family; our own families where we would be parents. Many married people today are reacting to or repeating the ways and patterns of their parents or those who raised them. Many times the very things we hate and criticise in our parents are the very things we do too when we become parents eventually. Alternatively, our reaction may be an extreme opposite of the things our parents did that we didn’t like, we do at times bounce to the extreme. For example many of us raised by very strict parents who thrashed us with sticks and cables and belts when we did wrong as kids, will today never beat our children no matter what they do. On the other hand, some beat their children even harder believing the beating was why they turned out well so their kids must be beaten as well. Truth is many of us lack our own independent opinion on better ways to manage our families today. We forget children are different and times are different, that childhood experience that made you turn out well may absolutely destroy your own child if applied today. For example, many parents today insist their children will never go to a boarding school because of their own bad experiences and some parents would insist their children must go to boarding school so as to learn and be wise as they are despite the danger and moral challenges in some boarding schools today. Dear friends, in our marriages, many of us are repeating patterns either negatively or positively. The problem of the couple in competition earlier mentioned is traceable to the fact that, as a child the man’s mother was in business and richer than his father and she oppressed his father, dated many of her business partners and his father died of heartbreak, emotional distress and stroke at an early age, the man held on to the sad experience and is now reacting.. His wife on the other hand had a father richer than her mother. The mother was a full time housewife and her father oppressed her mother to pieces; dating several women, and her mother told her never to depend on any man for anything, she should earn her own income, she also held on to the advice diligently. The experience of these couple as children in their first families is the reason for their strange competition in their own marriage. Dear friend, marriage is about collaboration and support, it’s about connecting with your destiny helper. Bringing the experience, the hurt and frustration of your family background into your own marriage can totally hurt your marriage and make you unfair to your partner who is not to blame for your childhood experience. It would be unfair judging your spouse based on the behaviour of your parents or those who raised you. Progress in life and a good marriage is in breaking away totally from the experience of your first family experience and designing your marital strategy. You must show respect and love for each other, be considerate, be fair and not hold a general negative opinion that all men are a particular way or all women are a particular way, what if your own spouse is not that way and is an exception? You’ll miss the advantage. “All men cheat” is a lie, “all women are materialistic” is also a lie. Know your own partner, develop a family strategy; guidelines, goals and norms. It will help your marriage. In my opinion it is difficult for anyone to counsel and teach you how to run your marriage because no two persons in this world are the same hence, no two marriages can be the same. What a marriage councillor did that impressed his or her partner may annoy or irritate your own partner if you try it. Where there are no rules everyone is loose. Sit with your partner and agree on rules for business and career, family finance, raising the kids, managing in-laws, supporting each other on habits, spiritual growth; purpose in life and retirement dreams. Write them out, it will help your life. Your partner should be a helper, not a distraction from purpose or even a burden. You deserve a good marital experience, happy married life. Enjoy your day.