Mr Emmanuel & Mrs Lilian Olatoye

"And they live happily ever after."

That’s what I gathered from the movies how marriage would be like. Two people unite and start their married life together. Marriage was supposed to be something beautiful, wonderful, and heartwarming.

The other reason why I looked forward to getting married was because I needed help in this life journey (Genesis 2:18), I wanted to be close to my helper ( my wife) always (Genesis 2:24). I wanted to be a friend to her, and to my children.

However, when the opportunity to get married finally came in the Month of April 2012, I wasn’t so sure anymore. But then, I was encouraged by the word of God (Proverbs 18:22 NIV ''He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD'' ) and in Proverbs 19:14 NLT ''Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the LORD can give an understanding wife''. 

My struggle before getting married

For one, I wasn’t totally sure my girlfriend was “the one”. How could I know for sure that she was given to me by God? Am I sure I can live with her (different tribe, language, and background)? Am I the right person for her? Can she be my helper? I had so many questions and they overwhelmed me.

That’s when I had to remind myself why I started dating her in the first place. Being a busy person, I've prayed about right partner and I too have been a right candidate all along. Then, I got a message from one pastor on radio programme, that in the very place I am, my helper will locate me, and it was fulfilled. At the start of the relationship, We had asked ourselves some basic questions. Does she fear God? Is she respectful and faithful? What if this relationship progressed to marriage?

When I remembered her answers and the commitment we made to each other when we started dating, and after getting to know her better through our courtship, I became assured that she was the right one and finally agreed to marry her.

My struggle after getting married

After getting married however, I realized that marriage was not always beautiful, wonderful, and heartwarming; it was certainly not a party. Marriage was in fact, life after the party. Married life involves two people with different backgrounds trying to live life together—and that can be very challenging when you are from different region and language.

Before we got married, my girlfriend and I only met once a month or so but seeing each other from afar in our working place, so our differences didn’t really bother us. But after getting married and having to live together, our differences have become a lot more noticeable.

I don't eat much food and in my tribe we have limited variety of foods. My wife likes eating good food. So now that we are one, we allowed ''give and take'' to operate in our home, we must consider each other’s preferences. And when she cook at home, she doesn't need to cook two different meals to fit both our taste buds. Our differences have become something that we have to let go, and deal with the rest that we cannot let go for a lifetime.

Couple quarreling

Another conflict involves our sleep schedules. My wife is an early bird, and she is full of energy in the morning. So she go to bed early and wake up early. But in my own case, however, am a night owl. This is a problem because we sleep in the same room. My wife just want to hide her face under her pillow, cover her ears and sleep off, But I on the other hand, stays awake in order to work on something, while my wife, some time yell, “Turn the light off, close the windows! come to bed!”

I must confess, My wife work very hard and smart to the extent that, it make me angry due to her multitasking, I always encourages her to take a rest. But I am not gifted with speed and multitasking.

These might seem like simple problems, but if they are not resolved well, they can be detrimental for the relationship.

One day, I came across a prayer by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It was a beautiful prayer which inspired me to deal with my marriage problems wisely:

''God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other''.

Reading that prayer reminded me that there are things we can’t change. Instead, we need to adapt to and accept those things. I can’t change the fact that my wife likes eating good food and she is an early bird. What I can do is to learn to adapt and accept her preferences.

Sometimes, it can be a challenge when my wants differ from her wants. But if it’s just about what I want, I need to compromise—to do something just because it’s important to my spouse and for the good of our family. If I want to guard the peace in my relationship (Romans 12:18), I need to learn to give in.

When we learn to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), we are able to build a harmonious marriage. The little differences don’t bother us anymore.

In the last nine years of my marriage, I felt God refining and shaping me through every good and bad experience with my wife. Though we still face differences in our characters and habits, I am reminded that the purpose of marriage is not the pursuit of happiness. 

But that was a lie, if the couple truly allow God to have His way in their lives, if they obey God and let His will concerning marriage be done, Happiness is part of marriage. Read the following Bible verse: Psalms 1:1-3,  Psalms 1:1–2, 19:8, 32:8–11, 34:8–14, 40:4, 106:3, 112:1, 119:1–2, 22–4, 69–70, 143–4, 128:1–6.

American author Gary Thomas writes in his book, marriage is a means through which God refines us, so that we become more like Him.  When someone gets married, they go through God’s refining and shaping process. Happiness is not the purpose, but an extra that God gives to us when we go through the process.

The couple resolved their differences

So, is marriage wonderful? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any problems, or that everything will be peaceful, or everyone happy. Marriage isn’t like the movies. Instead, it is beautiful because my faith and knowledge about God grows, and also my character.

Lastly, whatever you are going through in your marriage, handle it wisely and consult the founder of marriage (Almighty God) that instituted marriage. Don't be a reactionist, let it be a win win whenever there is an issue, You and your partner are not competing, therefore be open minded and put God first in every decision.

Remember, even tooth and tongue also quarrel and quickly resolve the problem amicably by eating the food in the mouth together. God bless you as you handle your marriage issue peacefully.

Ref: Juli Vesiania, Holy Bible, Reinhold Niebuhr

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