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So my sister will be getting hitched in about a month or so, and being an ardent observer, my take is that the journey is not an easy one. Amongst the many considerations to make is the time to learn the intricacies of marriage, the dos and don’ts, the rules. All of which are aimed at helping the partners get the best out of their relationship. Hence, the many counseling meetings, over 200 pages instructional manuals, and even mother-to-daughter counseling sessions.

These approaches are good but there is something to consider, you can’t possibly get all the rules before the ceremony, most of it will come with experience. However, there are basic rules that you should know before the big day – some of which you could pick up after it.

Rule 1: Don’t stay a novice

Since you have never been married, experiencing it would be new to you. And as it is sometimes the case with new things, there is bound to be trial and error. It is, however, a cause for concern if you never really get through this stage. So this rule emphasizes that you learn all you need to learn early enough to avoid certain marital issues. For example, you should not be oblivious of your husband’s tastes, you should understand how your mother-in-law thinks and how to relate with her, you should try to avoid issues you notice that are controversial, etc. Further, if he likes his eba designed…design it, if he prefers soft rice…serve it, and if there are also bedroom ethics you did not know about prior to the marriage, adopt them. In doing these, he would naturally respond to your own rules – whether instituted on purpose or not.

Rule 2: Don’t misinterpret love

Those with flirty motives and time to waste on relationships can settle for love as a feeling but you can’t afford that. Now that you are married, the meaning of that word has been extended. It is no longer a feeling but a commitment. It is a dedication to one’s self to one man for the rest of one’s life. Seeing love as a feeling is a liability, a liability that does not have the capacity to sustain your marriage. If you have this notion of love, you could be easily swayed by it to cheat on your husband, after all, it is a feeling. Commitments are stronger, more effective and long-lasting. It is not the commitment you made by confessing in church, it is the one you decided to categorize the love you feel for your spouse. That commitment keeps you going in the face of daunting marital challenges including delayed childbirth, career hitches, disagreements, appreciating differences, and so on.

Rule 3: Accept differences

You never really know who you’re about to spend your whole life with until you actually begin the journey. It is then that you notice that both of you are like the two sides of a coin – so different and so unique. He might like certain foods that you don’t, sleep earlier than you expect, snore in bed, dislike bathing with you, prefer a certain sex position, and so on. You begin to discover some of these personality traits that were not obvious to you during courtship. Now that you are married, it is expected that you appreciate these differences, that you tolerate them. Because in the same way, he too is appreciating yours. If you’re not yet married, go in with the knowledge that he is not your identical twin and is very different from you, prepare your mind to accept this and everything will turn out well.

Rule 4: Shun malice

Of note, getting pissed with him or arguing with him can’t be avoided but shunning malice can. The Holy Book says “do not let the sun go down on your anger” for a reason, that reason is, it could as well degenerate into a don’t-talk-to-me situation. Such situations, depending on the duration, have adverse effects on the marriage. Know this, if you refuse to talk or listen to him someone else might just do that for you. And this could continue long after there is a resolution of the conflict. So, in other words, you gave him a return ticket (which has an added option to keep going on the trip). Sometimes I hear about couples been separated or not talking to each other for weeks or months and I can’t but wonder about the changes that may have occurred during their time apart. So, be wise, no matter what the issue is, try to concede so as not to escalate things. Where there is a conflict peace is only possible when one party budges, be that party and keep your man.

The notion of marriage is a very complex one but it doesn’t mean it can’t be simplified. That we have done in this article. We know these are not all the rules but they are fundamental to keeping your marriage sailing smoothly. Finally, note that the success of your marriage depends on you and your partner, play your part by doing all you can to keep it alive. Remember, learn new rules ‘on the job.’ Happy married life!

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