There were some interesting reactions to yesterday’s article – ‘Have we got it wrong?’
Some people felt the article was spot on.
Others were irritated by what they thought was a blatant attack on marriage.
Some even felt the article was a little too tame.
The one thing we all agreed on is that something is definitely wrong somewhere.
Why did I point out those dark divorce rate statistics?
I wanted us all to be aware of the grim reality.
Not to scare.
Not to make those of us whose marriages didn’t make it feel better either.
But to encourage us to ask ourselves why.
As well as to goad us into dwelling on how we can play our own part in preventing those horrible rates from increasing.
For those of you who felt that yesterday’s article was an attack on marriage, I want to assure you that it most definitely was not.
Once again, I fully believe in marriage and really hope and pray to get it right one day.
To emphasise this point I want us to have a look at the following excerpt from yesterday’s article.
” Have we over-complicated matters?
Further still, has the excitement of the church wedding become so fevered that we have become blind to the fact that marriage is so much more than the wedding day???? ”
What I was implying is that we need to go back to the basics.
As I understand it, marriage is about two people coming together as one to build a life / family / future together.
I now believe that in order for a relationship / marriage to flourish there needs to be a great degree of commitment and selflessness from both parties.
Remember – Jesus pointed out that a man’s love for his wife is supposed to mirror His (Christ’s) love for the church.
Christ’s love for the church (you and I) is unconditional and selfless.
This requires regularly swallowing one’s pride and permanently dying to ‘self’.
In other words it is far more than the wedding day.
If there is one thing our generation seems to lack today, it is a commitment to seeing things through, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be.
Let’s take another look at 1st Corinthians 13.
Love is patient
Love is kind
it does not envy
it does not boast
it is not proud
it is not rude
it is not self seeking
it is not easily angered
it keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
it always protects
Just taking one glance at the above makes it pretty obvious to me where I went wrong.
I failed pretty miserably in most, if not all of them.
The above verses are so much more important in the context of marriage and relationships than going to church and saying ‘I do’?
I now believe that in marriage we need to permanently focus on the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.
This selfless love that the Apostle Paul describes is supposed to be a personification of Christ’s love for us.
Now – remember – Christ said ‘go and do likewise’.
Marriage is supposed to be the prime example of this selfless and unconditional love.
I certainly had to face some painful realisations about my own lack of commitment and selfishness when I was married.
For those of you who are not Nigerian please accept my apology, as I need to focus on our beloved country for now.
As I pointed out in yesterday’s article, we love our big weddings in Nigeria; to the extent that many jump into marriages in order to enjoy the big wedding day and for the general rush and experience of being able to say ‘I do’.
For some it is because of family pressure; for some it is for financial reasons; for some it is simply for the thrill and apparent magnitude of the wedding day; for some it is just to settle down. For some it is love.
Everyone has their reasons; and none should ever be judged.
But what happens next?
Unfortunately many experience disillusion and disappointment. The end result is more often than not a breakdown of communication, leading to an inevitable split.
Much to the irritation of some people I spoke with yesterday regarding this topic I am still a little hesitant to be as blunt as I probably need to be on this topic.
Because I know that I made many mistakes and I am still learning from them.
Many couples are friends before they marry. But for some reason, as soon as they utter the words ‘I do’ something changes.
Suddenly the pressure of expectations from each other rears its ugly head.
Whereas before they used to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, suddenly the weight of expectation and the pressures that society seems to heap on each individual strangles the life out of the friendship / relationship.
So what do we need to learn from this?
1. From a personal point of view I believe that we need to fully recognise and understand our expectations before saying ‘I do’.
2. We need to ensure that the fun does not disappear from our relationships.
3. We need to ensure that we do not allow society or church doctrines to dictate how we should think, or how we should conduct ourselves in our marriages.
This is what I was referring to when I pointed out that there is no where in the bible that says a man and a woman got married in a church.
Is it possible that the expectations, concepts and precepts of society’s attitude towards marriage and how a married couple should and shouldn’t behave have basically robbed many marriages of the joys of a free, loving and intimate friendship / relationship?
In other words, have our societal ‘norms’ and expectations – be they financial, behavioural, church or otherwise, eroded the authenticity and joys of relationships?
I often wonder which is more authentic.
To be married and living a life in which one is constantly keeping up with appearances for the sake of societal norms and expectations?
Or to be in a genuine relationship of love outside of marriage?
Yes I know. It’s a little radical.
But is it really???
I am not saying one is better than the other.
I’m also not saying that one is right and the other is wrong.
But I have come to the realisation that contrary to how I used to frown upon couples who are not married living together, I now see absolutely nothing wrong with it; so long as both hearts are committed to a lifelong relationship / partnership.
Remember when Samuel anointed David to be king of Israel?!
Let’s remind ourselves shall we!!
‘ When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’
But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
1st Samuel 16 vs 6 – 8
So – which do you think God prefers?
To be in a marriage for appearances sake or to be with someone out of wedlock but be genuinely in love and wanting to build a future together????!!!
Does the fact that they didn’t go to church to get married mean that the Lord frowns on the relationship???
I am in fact very pro marriage.
My hope and prayer is that the two articles encourage us all to reflect on the importance of love – unconditional love – selflessness – authentic friendships and authentic relationships.
Be true to yourself.
Don’t just be another clone of your church or your society.
Take note – if you’re not true to yourself, eventually the real ‘you’ will come out, and it is very possible that your partner will not like what he or she sees.
Be true to each other – in terms of who you are, what you like and what you don’t like. Surely this is the only way in which you can really know whether somebody likes you for ‘you’.
God gave us all individual minds; individual characters; our own gifts; our own talents.
He purposely created you to be different from the next person.
Don’t be a clone of society.
Don’t be a clone of your church.
Be true to yourself and be true to God.
Remember, in as much as we are all in this together – to support, to encourage and to uplift one another, your relationship with God is between you and God.
For those of you who have never been married I say this.
Don’t be scared.
I firmly believe that marriage is a blessing.
But go into it with both your eyes open.
If you find your marriage in a rut, try as best you can to remember what you love (or loved) about your partner.
Then do your best to practice the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.
Finally, we are all on a learning experience; a long journey in which we need to do our best to continue to grow into the people that God created us to be.
On this journey we will make mistakes and we will at times fail.
But we must never give up on ourselves or think for one second that we cannot be better – for God and for each other.
Most importantly we must never ever give up on God’s ability to mould us into the wonderful and loving people He created us to be.