Not so long ago, I happened to have a chat with a young lady. She had been referred to me by one of my brothers who thought I would be of good help to her. So much was happening in her life that had caused her to be under so much pressure. One of the pressures she faced was that she was turning 24, and she didn’t have any serious relationship that would lead to marriage. “All my friends are getting married, settling into their own apartments and I am here, still living with my parents.” She said. I felt sorry for this young lady. At 24, She was missing out on so much life while focusing on what she thought would make her happy.
I think many of us today, consider marriage to be just another big achievement to tick off in our milestones. It doesn’t help that our society makes it seem like it’s the next box to tick after University. Thankfully, my friends and I were so focused on getting our lives together (from being broke to meeting our needs), I don’t remember being under such pressure at 24! I even recall receiving a marriage proposal that scared me out of a relationship. I was getting to see the world through another angle of job hunting and learning to live without university allowance. I know for some girls then, that would sound sweet, but you see, I was not handed life on a silver plate. Or maybe I was but circumstances like death changed the course and I had to figure out certain things. To be honest, if I had gotten married then, I would have done for the sake of having my financial needs met. Being in the reality of marriage now and in a much better place in my hustle, I ask myself, would I have maintained respect for that person if circumstances had changed and he wasn’t able to meet my needs anymore? Did I even know myself? Would I have discovered and lived out my potential?
I am not a marriage expert. But for the few years, I have been at it, I know that there have to be certain foundations in place for that marriage to stand. One of them that I could never compromise, is friendship. As in, a good level of emotional and social intimacy between us that we could be build on over the next 80 years of our marriage. When one is under pressure to get married, this aspect is usually under-looked, in the hope that it will be developed in marriage. No doubt, it does grow over the years for those intentional about it, but it is always good to start from somewhere. To be honest, for the married people I have talked to, it is very difficult (not impossible) to build it from scratch when already married. Being friends came in handy during our wedding preps when we had to deal with our share of pre-wedding drama. To-date, there are several instances that have reinforced the value of friendship in marriage. I am so grateful that I didn’t downplay the fact that I needed a friend for a spouse and I am ever so thankful to God for this answered prayer.
The second thing I have come to learn that is key and that I asked my young friend, “Why do you want to get married?” Most of her reasons were out of pressure. I shared with her that life is a journey and every one of us has a different path. Sometimes we even have different destinations, so we shouldn’t try to just follow what so and so has followed because we may not know the bumps in their path or have the emotional strength to go through it and not lose ourselves. In another set of young people, I recently interacted with, I shared about marriage having a purpose beyond just the sweet flowery feelings. Together with them, we had gone through a session on living an extraordinary life. We had watched a story of two famous people and how they ended up getting married. Each of them had a dream/passion linked to their purpose. When they shared, they discovered that their passions were kind of similar and that together they could contribute to a better world the power they possess. It is not that the love between them was disregarded. No, after they had gotten past just the mushy feelings, they had to deal with a bigger why. I have heard it said in one of the Ndoa experiences (if not all) that it is a purpose that holds a marriage when all is said and done. It is the ability to look beyond just what I want, need, love etc to what ‘We’ are here to accomplish together. Happiness in this case becomes a by-product of purpose.
As I interact with people younger than me, I feel sad for those who are under so much pressure to just go through the motions or achieve a status. I feel sad that society has reduced this awesome privilege to co-create with God in many ways, to just another activity to tick off. I feel sad that many of us don’t get to ask important ‘why’ questions or talk through our individual dreams and how they fit into our marriage purpose. For that case, many of us get into marriage for the love of being married but do not build the deep roots to stay and fulfill our marriage purpose. Certain foundational principles are disregarded only to get into marriage and be faced with a big elephant in the room.
As I said, I am no expert, neither am overly experienced in these matters, but I have purposed, to tell the truth, and live out this truth with my One. We didn’t start out at 100% in knowledge of our purpose, but we knew we had to live for something bigger than little minute us. Along the way, we keep discovering why God gave us the gift of each other. It was not out of pressure to tick the box but a desire to bring our love, giftings, callings together to contribute to the advancement of God’s Kingdom in areas He has shown us. We are daily growing in our pursuit of a purpose-filled life, as we rely on God to help us meet each other’s needs.
A word of encouragement to all my single friends/family. First of all, please forgive us for putting you under any pressure. Before you feel and act out of pressure, in regards to marriage, make sure you and your potential spouse have had a discussion on why. Trust me, it is important.