(You know it’s a really Good One when it has to end with a disclaimer btw!)
I think this whole matter began from infancy – actually, I blame Disney for starting the trend!
Disney first exposed us to Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Belle, Cinderella, Pocahontas, & even Mulan, as they sold us the subconscious message that every little girl could grow up to be a Princess (if she wasn’t already). And that a princess needs her Prince Charming always…and her fairytale wedding too, apparently.
Maybe it’s because we put a lot of emphasis on the white wedding gown that’s so reminiscent of a princess’s royal costume, or it’s because your mother never really had a ceremony so fine herself so she would like her daughter to have something better and more befitting for her special day, or it’s because you come from a special family that leaves no room for a ‘normal’ wedding lest your ancestors be disgraced – I really can’t tell. I am, however, convinced that there must be an easily overlooked reason why the beauty of the wedding photographs of the youth of today seldom matches the state of their marriages afterward. So basically, this is my attempt to point out why from my perch at the back of the church hall.
Marriage is good, I agree. Love is awesome – I agree. Finding someone you love enough to want to marry is almost unarguably the absolute best possible thing a young person might do with their life. But there’s a saying I love to remember when it comes to matters of love – Follow your heart, but carry your brain along.
Why on earth would you want to get married without thinking it through???
I have had certain reservations concerning the matter that have bubbled over to the point that I cannot help but share them with you, o avid reader, today. There’s a lot of points I’ve noted in truth, but I’ll summarise some of the most pressing in 3 main points.
- Ask all the questions before you say “I do”. The good thing is that with a church wedding, it’s far more likely that you will both go through counselling for some months prior to the wedding – which in most cases will cause you both to travel on a structured process of introspection in hopes that you who are supposed to remain asunder do not get put together in the first place.
However, in the unlikely event that you don’t pass through these sufficiently stringent processes of vetting and mutual discovery – and maybe even if you do – it’s your duty & responsibility to ask everything you need to know. “Where do you come from?” “Where are your parents?” “Tell me about your relationship with your nuclear & extended families” “How much do you make?” “What’s your next step professionally?” “Do you go to church?” “How often do you go to church?” “How is your personal relationship with God like?” “What do you think of me and my own plans?” “How do you plan to support us when things don’t go the way we plan them?” “Interested in children?” “When and how many?” “Where are we going to live?” “How do you propose we manage it?” “Any investment plans?” et cetera…
Questions like these cause you to see the other person in a different light and show you a fuller picture of the person’s character and mind frame. They might even open up certain ‘deal breakers’ to you that you were almost deliberately ignorant of, who knows?
On a whole, I’ve come across way too many young marriages only months into wedded bliss that were tottering on their last toehold because a question like one of those I’ve listed above wasn’t answered before. ‘Love’ may rose-tint your view of your significant other on the way to the altar, but it shouldn’t be allowed to taint the peace of your marriage later on.
- Don’t marry yourself into a bloody debt before you say ‘I do’! Pardon my French over there, but I’ve been presented with way too many examples of this sort recently that I can’t help but feel more than a bit upset about the phenomenon! You’ve had a lot of exposure to fairytale weddings ever since you were a little kid so it’s not too far out for you to daydream about the day you walk down the aisle in a diamond-encrusted tiara; or in Vera Wang’s latest gift to the world of bridal fashion; or for you to want to exchange vows at Kempinski; or to show up at the church in a fleet of 2016 new model Mercedes Benz E-class sedans in your favourite colour, of course – white.
I’m privy to a number of stories that illustrate this situation only too clearly – like there’s that of a couple who had been dodging a bank representative’s calls because of the bride’s inability to repay the bank loan she contracted to plan one heck of a classy wedding (a 5-tier wedding cake – signifying the 5 years prior in which they had known each other; releasing doves from each wedding reception table after the toast – another 1500GHS for that; not 1 or 2, but 3 celebrity musicians performing; a team of wedding photographers from the Pre-wedding shoot, through the Engagement, to the Wedding & Reception, and of course the Luncheon the day after – oh, I nearly forgot the complimentary bottles of Moët on each table. Luckily they decided to cut back a bit here and only purchased the $47.00 bottles this time instead of the $80.00 ones for each table. Lucky indeed.) Their wedding got up there in the limelight alright – talk of the town, etc – but it continued on hogging the limelight afterwards for the wrong reasons as the story of the cash-strapped newlyweds dodging debtors daily became a byword for how Not to have a fairytale wedding.
Marriage is hard enough as it is without you starting out on that journey with a large debt to clear. Besides, ask the older couples: they’ll confirm that probably less than 40% of the people who attended were their real friends, and they probably ended up catering for more people than they really should have.
Don’t get me wrong though – no one said you should as a matter of necessity conduct your nuptials as frugally as possible, but burying yourself under a pile of debt is sure to douse the passionate flames of your newly wedded life together faster than a snowball would melt in hell!
If you’ve got the money to blow, and you want to put on a show, feel free to spend your cash as you wish, as long as you won’t be singing sometime after, “Oh if I were as wise then as now, I’m sure I’d still be rich!”
- Critically assess your partner and open yourself up to assessment in turn to determine just how mature you both are. Not to say that all people who are supposed to be married have to be mature in everything (that’s impossible, you know), but you should both be able to admit your failings and flaws to each other to be sure you both are aware of what you’re getting yourselves into.
There are few things as horrifying as finally moving in with the love of your life only to realise that he has the most peculiar speech impediment – the inability to say “I’m sorry”, even when he’s dead wrong and has no one to side with him. Or finding out that your classy new wife still defers to her best friend on personal matters such as when, how and where it was acceptable to perform…er…certain wifely duties. Or that your Marketing Consultant husband still insists on playing football on Sunday mornings “…with the boys” in a ratty old ‘lucky’ jersey, instead of suiting up handsomely to accompany you to church. Or you find out what sort of manipulative shrew of a wife you’ve hitched yourself to when every request of yours has to be balanced by something she has to gain from the ‘favour’…
No one is perfect, true, but does that justify a flagrant refusal to conform to the pursuit of a higher standard? Heck, no!
In conclusion, this is honestly what I believe: If it’s worth doing at all, it sure is worth doing well. Spend some time to do due diligence before you cross that threshold. Cloud 9 is all fun and games, and may be where you’d love to spend your pre-wedding days, true, but Rock Bottom is only a short fall away and too hard for you to stay married in. And if staying married come what may is not your aim in the first place…why are we bothering to have this conversation in the first place?
And my Disclaimer: This post isn’t aimed at anyone in particular. I know some of the topics discussed here are either sensitive or sore spots to some out there but, sincerely speaking, if your friendly Goldinwords blogger cannot say some of these things out loud just like your friends and family may feel too scared, unconcerned or embarrassed – take your pick – to do same, then who’s really got your back? *wink*