The most important part of your wedding day is over and you said ‘I do.’ Congrats! You have danced the night away and all those who came to eat, and celebrate with you are all gone now. It’s just you and your partner, the end of a wedding and the beginning of a marriage, something bigger than the dancing and ululations.
Weddings are phenomenal and a hallmark in life. Everyone wants to tick off this box on their bucket list. After months of planning for one day, it’s only the couple that is left behind to ignite a marriage.
It is not easy. At the start, nothing your partner does bugs you. But challenges, routine, personality differences and demands of everyday life can start wearing you down and getting in the middle of your relationship.
Married to successful businessman Lebby for almost 11 years now, Juliana Nepembe-Haimbodi speaks from a place of comfort where she objectively sees the transition from the days of just dating, the wedding and to the beginning of a marriage. Like any other woman, she too loved a good wedding. It’s after all a moment of celebration and sentimentality. It is a spectacle and a well-orchestrated play. But the knowledge many fall short of, is the fact that the wedding is the briefest of opening acts. Marriage is the main event. The sun will rise tomorrow and you now share a space with this person.
The first few days are just normal. It’s still the honeymoon stage with all the love in the air. But as time goes, the real work starts and a week becomes a month and a year later, you drift further away from the beginning of a marriage, far away from dating and your reality is made up of a world of responsibilities, challenges, compromises and one realises that marriage is not for the faint hearted, narrated Juliana.
From the days of simply dating and observing the drama, love and storylines of those in it, she anticipated that her marriage will be stronger and better, if not the best.
Ask her now if her 11 years of marriage are as she anticipated, she tells you that it’s not as easy but worth the stay.
Lights out, tolerate and compromise
“You move in and you learn more about each other. He is no longer the boyfriend, but your husband. When you are just dating, you are not obliged to do things, now you have real responsibilities and you cannot run away from any, even the smallest.”
Just like dynamite comes in small packages, the minor differences may cause huge thunders and painful pricks to the marriage. The personality differences start to kick in and the rest can only be answered by the two.
“And then you learn that he is not as tidy or that he likes his clothes packed in a specific way and its not your style. Now this is the first hurdle and only the strong survive. Then, you learn that marriage is about tolerance. You need to understand that it is difficult to change a character so you have to meet each other halfway to make things work.”
Juliana adds that the fact that you are now ‘two in one’ and made a vow to stick with each other through thick and thin teaches you the art of compromise and eventually you learn to appreciate the benefit of a different perspective.
What you hang up is what you see
What you sow is simply what you reap – the same concept works after the wedding day. For some abstract reason, the beginning of a marriage in many cases brings the end to romance and the beginning of serious business.
The couple in most cases turn their attention on building their combined net worth and at times while bringing up children, it can feel more like a business transaction. No more cat calling and flowers, you’ve got bills to pay.
Juliana’s advices saying marriage is simply what you put in and never overlook the romance as it continues to be key in marriage.
“Marriage is like an empty box. What you put in is what and how your marriage will look like. You also need to put in the romance, because it is important on top of other factors. As much as the two are busy, you need to make time to light up the marriage
As for the family, one can give them attention by sharing a meal together daily. For the couple, date nights or getaway weekends just to hang out and to find out what’s happening in each other’s lives is of critical importance.”
Juliana admonishes that if the couple does not create time for every important aspect of their marriage, the other partner might seek attention from someone else who makes the time. “If you do not do it, someone else will do it on your behalf.”
Juliana’s marriage has birthed two children and a step-son who she says remains a huge blessing and responsibility. As a mother, wife, businesswoman and also a figure involved in the community, Juliana says it is her responsibility to attend to all while keeping a balance without failing the other. She also highlights the importance of support that needs to come from her husband in raising their children. “It is important that both partners are present. It is good for children as this is how they experience the love from their parents. We are raising children who will be someone’s’ husband or wife one day. And we also need to bring them up in such a way that they are able to survive even when we are no longer around.”
Divorce is not an option
11 years later, Juliana is still happily married and says with her faith in God, divorce was and is never an option. Statistics of divorce in the country are on the rise and Juliana highlighted the need to be completely ready before entering marriage.
“If you make divorce an option, you will eventually divorce. When troubles come my way, I ask for help and guidance from God. Communication is key so we talk about everything and we discuss the challenges before us,” she said.
Even the most loving of couples can and probably will go through a rocky patch. The key to getting through it, is to acknowledge every problem and do something about it. Cherish the happy moments together and do the same on the days when one plus one is not two. That is what you face after the wedding. It’s called a marriage and only the drivers can steer it in the desired direction.