I have received a lot of feedback from readers about my last three posts and I am glad that my experiences are not isolated and that more importantly I have been able to give some insight to those currently walking or about to walk in the marriage shoes…thank you!
Here is the 4th and perhaps the most important thing I learned about marriage:
4. Every marriage has its own peculiar challenges.
Your challenges may seem like the absolute worst but be rest assured that every marriage has its own peculiar challenges and even when two cases seem similar, the contributing factor would be very unalike.
I have been married for five years and I’m yet to have a child. Is this the worst thing that can happen to a marriage? Maybe and maybe not. I have shed tears, been angry, disappointed, prayed and fasted and done all manner of tests and my medical colleagues keep saying the same thing, that there’s nothing apparently wrong with my hubby and I. Sometimes I think the challenge is more difficult because everyone seems to have something to say about it. I have had people ask me why my hubby and I can still be so happy when we don’t have children, I have had someone close to me call me up recommending a guy who helps with blocked tubes, thereby assuming that I have blocked tubes without asking me for the details of my problem and of course automatically inferring that the problem lies with me. I have had people disrespect me because I don’t have children or say flippant, hurtful and very insensitive things to me. I have had people say to my face that I’m a great wife only because I need to compensate for my inability to have children or that hubby and I only have a great marriage because it’s just the two of us. I have had someone who used to be close to me jokingly talk about calling a family meeting to discuss my problem. I have had someone ask my husband if he became less outgoing because of this problem. Yes I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d go through this but that’s life and I know countless people who have gone through similar ordeals and many have come out victorious. My mantra is what doesn’t break you makes you stronger and I am determined not to be broken.
The thing about problems in marriage is that even when you have a similar problem with another couple, the fine details may be so very different. I have been blessed with a great husband and very supportive friends, family and in-laws (God bless them) who offer strength on days that I feel really low but I know others that have been less fortunate in that area however they have had victories in other areas. I know marriages that have broken up because of lack of children and yet I also know marriages that have become stronger and more intimate because of that same problem.
As a couple, you decide whether a problem makes you stronger or tears you apart.
No one else has the power to determine how a problem will affect your marriage and the first thing I learned about dealing with my challenges was how to curb outside influences. There are so many couples whose marriages have been complicated by the advice and influence of a third party even when it seemingly came from a good place.
Every couple I’ve interacted with has had their own challenges however subtle or obvious they may be. People tend to feel sorry for couples with obvious problems but I’ve learned in five years that the couples with subtle problems who seemingly appear perfect because of the covert nature of their problems are the ones who many times end up permanently fractured by their issues. In medicine, we take triaging very seriously because we have learned over the years that the patient with an obvious problem may not be as serious a casualty as a patient who seems apparently fine. Everyone loves to highlight the problems of others because it seems to diminish their own problems but if you find yourself so preoccupied with another’s issues it may just be because you haven’t been honest with yourself about yours and hence have left it to fester like an open sore concealed in your undergarments.
Some couples deal with infidelity, others with financial difficulties, others with in-law issues, others with medical issues, others with disharmony…the list is endless and each couple erroneously believes some other couple has it easier. I have learned that God will never give you more than you can handle, you just need to look within you and find inner strength and you should never ever wish for another’s problems in exchange for yours or assume that a couple has no problems. I guess that’s why they say marriage is not a bed of roses. Don’t ever assume that a couple is facing a problem because of some unknown sin or because they deserved it or get angry because they are not handling the problem the way you would because you DO NOT know the whole story just snippets. You cannot offer solution when you are not privy to the full picture. Pray for them, offer assistance if it’s in your power, offer empathy and encouragement but limit advice unless you are an authority in that area because no one knows more about a problem than the person experiencing it.
In a nutshell, I learned that on the day you say ‘I do’, a new chapter is written with its own highs and lows and unexpected curve balls. Pray for grace to go through these challenges together and believe that ultimately this too shall pass…
Have a lovely Sunday chutzpah fam,