Your television has been giving you a lot of troubles for a while. Finally, half-way through the family’s favourite programme, it packs up altogether. It was an old model and your local repairman can no longer work any magic. The best thing to do is give it a rest and buy a brand new one or could it still be salvaged?
“These days, we are quick to acquire things and even quicker to throw them away when they are not working”, observed an elderly woman who’s been married for decades. “But, what happens if our relationshi0ps don’t live up to expectations? Do we try to fix them or do we simply cast them aside too? We are in the age of the throwaway marriage. Almost half of today’s marriages end in divorce, many after a short period of time…”
“Once upon a time, marriage made women an offer they couldn’t refuse”, she continued: “It provided an acceptable way to have and rear children. But that is no longer the case. Women can support themselves. And there is no stigma in being a single mother. Now, women expect a husband to be more than a provider. They have a romantic notion of finding a friend, an equal, a soul mate and a lover all rolled into one. And, if one man doesn’t match up to requirements, then, maybe the next one will”.
Unfortunately, most wives to be are not only highly suspicious of their husband’s commitment to their marriage, they (the wives are holding on their buffers; what they refer to as “shock absorbers”. Lovers they have known long before they got married and who they believe will be there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on. Some wives simply carried on from where they left off with their lovers, the existence of their husbands notwithstanding. It is the stuff that keep rag sheets permanently on the news stands.
“Society has a lot to answer for in the decline of the girl’s impatience in marriage”, continues the lady. “It tells us we shouldn’t put up with what we used to put up with. But what couples don’t often realise is that there is a third way; which is trying to understand what is happening and finding ways to resolve their conflict. You might find that those problems you thought were lodged in your partner and actually in you.
“Even when you eventually pack up your marriage, it is important, to find out why the relationship broke down, otherwise, you risk repeating the same potentially destructive behaviour with subsequent partners. Divorce rates for second marriage are even higher than first marriages …”.
Mariam was a couple of years into her second marriage when she realised she was making more efforts in her second attempt than with her first husband. “The shame of admitting failure made me hang on longer than necessary. My happy go-lucky second husband turned out to be highly irresponsible, a liar and a cheat who brought girlfriends to the house when I was away on official trips. I discovered I was forever comparing him with my first husband and the lover I still see from-time-to time when I become frustrated.
“As soon as my lover got a plum government appointment in Abuja, I simply relocated. I am doing very well for myself, thanks to my lover. My so-called second marriage was nothing short of a sham anyway, since he was still legally married to his first wife.
“Last year, my lover and I cemented our relationship when I had his child. No regrets, believe me. Even, if he were to up and go, I will have my child and I have enough money stashed away to look after myself and my child. I’m not thinking of a third marriage right now. I don’t think I need it …”.
According to a marriage counsellor, some people walk out of their marriage without having a clue why they are doing it. All they know is that they are unhappy. When you are under such stress, it’s hard to gauge what the real problem is, but leaving the marriage may be like throwing away the baby with the bath water. When someone walks away from something quickly, they don’t allow themselves to take stock of the situation. They leave without knowing what the core of the problem is.
“Usually, a demand for divorce may be a well-camouflaged cry for help from one partner. Very often, it is that person’s only way of saying: `Listen to me, I’m not happy’. Saying they want to leave may seem the only way of getting their partner to take their point of view seriously, with help, it is relatively easy to work-out what’s going wrong in a marriage – but putting it right takes commitment and a lot of effort. May be, that’s what a lot of people run away from. Some couples expect their relationship to improve overnight once they have identified their problems. But that simply doesn’t happen”.
She then likens the process to learning how to drive. You may know exactly what you are supposed to do – when to look in the mirror, when to push the brake, when to turn the wheel. But for a long time, none of this comes naturally. You have to concentrate, and it is hard work.
Yet, you could avoid hastily throwing away your marriage, she says, by observing these rules; accept that arguments are part of the course. Anyone who tells you their parents were blissfully happy and never argue, is kidding themselves.
Acknowledge differences – don’t be frightened of them. We’re often readier to accept the viewpoint of a stranger than that of our partners. Show each other respect.
Appreciate what you’ve got. Make an effort to notice your partners strengths. We are very good at complaining and very bad at praising.
Remember what attracted you to them in the first place.
What if you hit a rocky patch?
Remember, if your partner has a problem with your relationship, no matter how happy you think you are, you’ve got a problem too.
Let your partner know if you’re very unhappy. We like to think they will sense it automatically, but, this isn’t the case.
Be open about problems. Let each other know how you feel, but don’t apportion blame. Start with: “In this relationship, I feel …”.
Ask yourself: What am I doing that stops me getting what I want out of this relationship?” Also, ask yourself what compromises you will need to make to stay in the relationship. Are they ones you could live with comfortably?
Decide what needs to be done to help the situation. Are there things you can do as a couple or do you need help?
Lastly, you are to talk to a third party,or any professional you believe might be helpful before you take any serious action.