Diary Adventures of LagosMums: To Your Single Self What you Wish you Knew Before Marriage
If you could write to your younger self on what you wish you knew before marriage and motherhood; what would you share? Would it be about the sacrifices you have to make, or about the joy of motherhood or both?
Hindsight is always 20/20 with many ‘aha’ moments after you have lived it. The role of mentors is that we should be able to learn from others experiences, the good, the bad and be aware of problems or red flags. Below are some life lessons from mine and other couples personal experiences.
Love is not enough
Between romance novels, such as Mills and Boons and movies, the idea of real love was somewhat erhm unrealistic. In real life love is great, but love is not the butterflies in your tummy. Friendship and mutual respect should be the foundation of a relationship, shared values, truly wanting to bring out the best in the other person are all so critical. Love is more than a feeling. it is an ongoing action. In general, you need much more for your marriage to be successful than just saying “I love you”.
Truly Know Yourself
Knowing who you are is important. However, most of us are not taught how to know who we really are. What do you like, what upsets you, what are your emotional triggers? These are all aspects of knowing who you truly are. Imagine a scenario where your potential spouse thinks it is important to make a fresh pot of fish stew every day and yet you hate cooking? While you are dating you might think it is cute, only for it to be a regular source of conflict when you get married.
To reduce surprises after marriage, ask insightful questions so you know what your potential spouse thinks about matters that are important to you. If you are with someone who belittles you or does not push you to be your best this is could be a warning sign. Do not ignore anything that makes you uncomfortable, talk about it and through it.
Have Realistic Expectations
Your spouse is an addition to your life, he is not the answer to all your life’s problems or questions. You need to be comfortable with yourself first, like yourself and be kind to yourself. A relationship should bring out the best in both of you and by no means should it be a one-sided relationship. You will need a strong relationship with God, because there are voids that only God can fill. Have a strong support system which includes friends, coaches, mentors, family, a trusted older couple that will help you navigate all the various seasons.
Leave Intimacy Till Later
See all the rush for intimacy is not necessary because once you get married there will be an infinite amount of time for intimacy. In fact, a season comes when you have to work at keeping the spice in your marriage. So do not rush it, when you become intimate too early, it clouds your ability to be objective. Oh and a recent movie called Baby Mama is a good modern take on what happens behind the scenes if a baby happens outside of marriage. At a roundtable after the screening of the movie, I was able to hear from single mothers, and for the first time, I truly understood the challenges that single mothers face. A man can walk away, the woman cannot. Sex can wait period.
Embrace the Seasons of Life
I always say that three things in life will humble you, your job, marriage and your children! No matter how much you think you have figured out; you will learn through lives experiences. On the job, wait till you have a job review that tells you there is a lot of room for improvement. When you get married your spouse will really tell you about yourself and then wait till you have a child who will truly test what you think you know.
Life is a journey and a combination of experiences which you will learn through; have the right attitude. It is important to know what your core values are but also be ready to be flexible. There is no school for getting a job, being married or being a parent! You learn as you go.
Keep Improving Yourself
The world is changing very fast, technology has made change so rapid. The only way to stay relevant is to keep improving yourself by being a life long learner. There are many new jobs, industries, and opportunities that did not exist even ten years ago. So get comfortable with evolving and learning. The more you learn, the more you have an opinion and can adjust quickly. [Read: Stress in not Cute]
Having a true relationship with God is so critical, keep growing spiritually because the day you stop is the day you start to die. Your parents’ relationship with God cannot sustain you during your life; neither can your pastor’s faith, you need to build your own relationship with God and seek his will always. Start your day with prayer and end your day with prayer.
Lastly, faith without works is dead. Having a strong relationship with God does not mean you can be lazy and passively wait without taking a step in the direction your life should go in. Provision, comes after obedience; so when you are meant to take a step, take it and leave God to provide the rest, in terms of resources, people, opportunities or ideas.
Have a Support System and ask for Help
See you cannot do it all alone, The idea of being superwoman simply sets people up to fail. Get help, ask for help and have a support system especially when you become a wife and mother. You will be juggling so much at the same time, that you will need good quality support around you. I can tell you for free, motherhood is one of the most demanding and rewarding roles, but you will need help. It truly takes a village to raise a child.
Accept You Will Change
See you will change over the years, the demands of life, marriage, motherhood, being a business woman or a career woman, hormones, betrayals, disappointments, success and everything in between means that you will change. Accept that change will happen. Your husband too will change. However, if all the things such as friendship, deep level of respect and active love are in place and actively nurtured, then these changes should be easier to navigate. You will grow together and not grow apart.
Make sure that you surround yourself with sources of positive influence and be sure to speak to people who will encourage you. Toxic people and negative energy will not help you. Grow together with your spouse.
With all of this said, do not be afraid to walk away from a relationship that is not working for you; do not think that he will change for you after marriage. Believe him when he shows you who is, while you are friends or dating.
Love, a More Mature Mama.