19 lessons from 19 years of marriage

On September 2, 1995, I said “I do!” 19 years down the road, what have I learnt? What do I wish I knew before saying I DO?
1. Love is a choice, not an emotion: As years go by, you realise that each day you have to consciously choose to love. You can’t rely on the “emotional” feelings you had when you first met.

2. Love is a commitment: You must resolve to love regardless. Marriage is not for those who want to try if it will work or not. It is for those who resolve to make it work no matter the challenges.
3. Leave your parents: Many marriages fail because one or both partners fails to cut the umbilical cord to hisher parents. Don’t keep going back to mama to cry! Focus on building your marriage.

4. Develop your own set of values: None of you should impose hisher parents’ values to be fully adopted in your new family. Many of the things your parents dodid, might not work for you 100 per cent. Create your own constitution.
5. Don’t borrow money for the wedding: I am glad we never borrowed a cent to finance our wedding! We told our families we just had enough money to get into church, get married and come out happy as husband and wife. If they wanted a celebration, they were welcome to host it. And they did, a garden reception at Lilongwe Hotel.

6. Choose to create a happy marriage: Whatever your chosen mindset, it will manifest.
7. Choose to focus on the good and not the weaknesses: We all have a bad side, but love must choose to focus on the good, on what is lovely, what is praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8).
8. “Keep the ‘Main Thing’, ‘The Main Thing’”: Your marriage should be the main thing. Avoid the temptation to separate and live in different towns, cities, countries just to “earn a living”.

9. Choose which battles to fight: Our first major fight within a month of our marriage was about how to hang curtains! Years down the lane, I do not care how they are hang!
10. Learn to forgive: If you are just young in love, you take things too seriously sometimes. Listen, your mate is just human and full of errors and weaknesses. If you want to marry an angel, then wait until you are dead!

11. Grow and develop with your partner: Don’t let only one of you do the extra studies, the extra reading, the career aancement. You need to keep a healthy closeness mentally.
12. Create special moments to remember: Don’t let your marriage be dull by following a boring routine of waking up, going to work, coming back, eating, sleeping, waking up again Do some special things together or for each other that will create special memories for your marriage.

13. Raise your children together: Fathers, you have a heavy responsibility to raise the children. Change nappies, put them to sleep, play with them. Well-disciplined children reduce stress in the home. Undisciplined children bring strain.
14. Have role models: There are great couples out there who you should aspire to be like. Learn from them. Find out what they do to keep love alive. Learn from others’ mistakes.
15. Communicate well: I have learnt that many arguments can be avoided by simply knowing what to communicate, how and when to communicate. Certain arguments come simply because of wrong timing in communication.

16. Realise that you are both changing: We met in college. I had no single white hair! The ups and downs of life take a toll on you and years change you. She might not maintain her figure. He might develop a pot-belly. Both of you change with age, so be ready to accept each other.

17. I wish someone had told us how to plan long-term and how to save and invest. Over the years I have come to appreciate that it costs money to live a decent loving life. And generally, women don’t like perpetually broke men.
18. I wish I had developed my listening skills. I keep annoying my wife by switching off while she is still speaking (God help me!) I have also discovered that as men, we jump to offer solutions when all the lady is looking for, is empathy.
19. I wish I had started a solid investment for each of our children the month they were born.

Posted on Facebook by Henry Kachaje
To share your experience, write in to hearttoheart@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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