Abi and Sefi bumped into each other while enrolling their children in the kindergarten at King Cross Boulevard, five years after leaving college. Abi crept stealthily behind Sefi and whispered into her ears…” guess who is behind you Sefi”. Sefi turned her head abruptly in the direction of the whisper and had a head-to-head collision with Abi, and they both erupted in laughter. They chattered throughout the enrolment process and decided to catch up over coffee and pastries. Abi (who had always been the more conservative one) kickstarted the conversation with the comment – “Imagine running into you like this after five years. I learnt you got married immediately after university and thought you relocated. Marriage sure looks good on you; you look so radiant and happy. In fact, you are positively glowing.” Sefi responded with an affirmatory nod. “Yes indeed, I am enjoying my marriage. I got married the same year as you. You do not look bad yourself Abi.” As if on cue, Abi replied with a deep sigh “Make no mistakes about it, marriage was the worst decision I ever took and my son Cyril here, is the ONLY good thing I got from it”.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” Sefi responded.” What do you mean? My view is that marriage can be lovely and enjoyed. It depends on the mindset with which you approach it and the effort you are prepared to put into it.” Abi was quick to reply “Not when you have a husband with irritating and disgusting habits like mine. Over the years I have complained and tried to correct him over things like cleaning up with water after using the toilet as against toilet roll which I prefer. His clean-up method leaves the toilet seat wet which is unfair to the next user. He presses the toothpaste from the middle rather than bottom-up, he strews his used clothes all over the floor and likes to sleep to loud music. All attempts to correct him and teach him “civil” ways have proved abortive. I can’t continue with such a self-centered uncaring individual who will not consider my discomfiture regarding his mannerisms”. In response Sefi advised “But have you ever considered that he views your own habits in a similar manner? For instance, he may consider the use of water for cleaning up as more hygienic. Don’t forget that you grew up in different homes with different upbringings and value systems. Even siblings brought up under the same roof may have different preferences and that doesn’t make one necessarily superior to the other. You must learn to be accommodating and gentle in correction. Nagging and bickering has never and will never be a solution. Marriage requires that you condition your mind to do the following:

  1. To put in the effort to make it work.
  2. To Love unconditionally.
  3. To seek God’s assistance in getting him to change some of his habits.
  4. To seek God’s help in accepting what cannot change.

When you have the right mindset, it gives peace of mind at all times. Mind you. I am not saying it is easy, but the right attitude can be cultivated. When I first got married, I discovered that my husband was a “couch potato” who would rather sit all day in front of the television, with hardly a word to me but the usual pleasantries. You know me. That I live for conversations and while courting he made the effort to engage me in active discourse. I was wilting within and one day, I could no longer help myself, I burst into tears while seated with him in the living room. The silence had been deafening. Upon his inquiry as to the reason for my distress, I told him that his refusal to communicate with me was eating me. He assured me that there was nothing wrong with the relationship and he was happy with me. I later reasoned that while I came from a background where verbal engagement and mutual communication among all members of the family was the norm, the converse was the case in his family and so he saw nothing wrong with keeping silent. Having identified the problem, it was easier to understand his challenge and assist him to overcome it prayerfully. I started by discussing and analysing his favorite programs with him and gradually our communication progressed. The change was gradual, but God effected it and before I knew it, he craved our conversations. If for any reason I am silent now, he is not at peace. This was just one of several things we needed to work on and we are still work – in- progress but with each passing day, it gets easier to love him for who he is. Please Abi, do not allow petty differences to get in the way of your happiness. Remember no one is perfect and it takes time and patience to unlearn what has been learnt. Turn it over to God and remember, nagging and bickering has never been and will never be a solution. Ask God earnestly for patience and he who hears our prayers will certainly imbue you with the needed patience”.



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