Mental health and psychological well-being in Lagos - Nigeria : 360 Psyche

To Make Or Mar – Managing Your Marriage and Relationship

I watched her as she sobbed, deep heart wrenching sobs. She tried to continue talking but the tears were so intense she could barely talk. 


“It’s okay”, I said to her


“Take your time; I’m listening when you’re ready to go on”


She pulled out more tissue papers from the box I gave her to wipe her eyes and then blew her nose. Finally, after some minutes, she was ready to go on talking. 


“I am just so tired” she continued


“It doesn’t help that I lost my job barely a year after we got married. I thought marriage was supposed to make me happy, I thought our love was so deep that nothing could break us. Now I don’t even know if we still love each other” She finished, looking into my eyes, yearning for a confirmation.


I looked at her and smiled inwardly. These are the moments when I realize the reason I went through what I went through. It is all pointed towards encouraging someone else who is walking that same path. 


Some years ago, I was like Melinda. It was my 5th year in marriage and I was miserable, lonely, deeply unsatisfied, depressed and wanted out. 


A lot of us find ourselves in that place in our marriage, where we ask deep questions and we cannot find answers. 


Sometimes we wallow in regret, sometimes self pity, and at other times it is a complete state of hopelessness because all our hopes and expectations are dashed. 


Dashed because we thought marriage would make us happy. Dashed because we thought we were inseparable. Dashed because we thought our love was strong enough or deep enough. 


Therein lies the problem, we waltz into marriage with high expectations thinking the music will always be a slow romantic dance. We do not realize that the tempo of the song will often change.


Sometimes it will stop and leave you frozen on a spot. Sometimes it will be a tuneless beat which leaves you disoriented and wants to drive you crazy. 


Other times it would be a disharmony of noise which leaves you in a state of chaos. Then we forget the slow romantic dance we once enjoyed, focusing on the tempo that was not included in your expectations.  


I learnt one of the golden rules in marriage which no one ever told me till I went through counselling “Have zero expectations from your spouse!”


Seriously? Yes, seriously! It’s that simple and it is easy when you put your mind to it.


Too many marriages are going through rough times because of unmet expectations. Some have decided they are not compatible, shared grace and gone their separate ways. 


I think we sometimes put too much pressure on our spouses by expecting them to complete us or make us happy.


That, in my humble opinion, is too much of a tall order to give to one individual even if he or she is your spouse. 


“What then am I expected to do?” Melinda asked. 


“Go live your life. You are responsible for your own happiness. Seek ways to find it, find yourself, and discover purpose. He will catch up with you as you take the sprint, he will even start to lead the way at some point”.


“Whatever you do, stop pinning away and waiting for him to make you happy. It’s all up to you, decide to be happy, and decide to love him. It’s a decision, and not an easy one but you can do it”.


“I know this because I was in your shoes some years ago then I went through this patch – the path of wanting more, and not getting more. The interesting thing is I sought help like you are doing now”. I finished, looking into her eyes, yearning for my own confirmation.


Truth is told, beyond going through counselling I decided to make myself happy. Making that decision found me purpose. 


My change didn’t happen overnight, it was a process. I’m still a work in progress, we all are. Our lives are meant to be a stream less flow of music, you don’t stop even when the melody changes. 


Every time you put your life on pause because of a negative emotion you stop the flow and end up in quick sand. 


When you allow yourself to be swallowed by the quick sand you give up on life itself. Thereby becoming a mere existence and not living. 


You must choose to live.


Embrace the challenges.


Choose to be happy.


Choose to let your light shine.


Choose to maximize the moments and become the best version of yourself.


Marriage redefines you, but choose to let it define you in more positive ways than negatives. Don’t join the wagon and believe marriage brings out the worst in you. It can bring out the best, the very best.


It’s all up to you to decide to let marriage make or mar you.



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