On 2nd Sept 1995, I said “I DO!” 19yrs down the line, what have I learnt? What do I wish I knew before saying I DO? Below are some 19 lessons:1. Love is a choice, not an emotion: As more years pass, you realize that each day you have to consciously choose to love. You cannot rely on the “emotional” feelings you had the first month you 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 his/her 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 his/her parents’ values to be fully adopted in your new family. Many of the things your parents do/did, might not work for you 100%. Create your own marriage constitution and live by it.
5. Don’t borrow money to finance 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. Don’t believe the lie that “Banja ndi mavuto”: Choose to create a happy marriage not a sad one. Whatever your chosen mindset about marriage, it will manifest.
7. Choose to focus on the good and not the weaknesses: We all have the 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” Life is for living, and choose to live it together. Let what God has put together remain together.
9. Choose which battles to fight and which ones to ignore: Our first major fight within a month of our marriage was about how to hang curtains! Years down the lane, I don’t give a damn 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 till 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 advancement. 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 that will live-up 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, unruly kids bring strain to a marriage.
14. Have role models: There are sweet couples out there who you should aspire to be like. Learn from them. Find out what they do to keep love alive. Learn from the mistakes of other failing couples so that you don’t make them yourselves.
15. Learn to communicate well to each other: I have learnt over the years 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. Learn your spouse and know when to communicate what.
16. Realize that you are both changing: We met when we were both in college, first year. 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, so be ready to accept each other as you age.
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 develop 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… a college fund, or real estate investment.
P/S: Almost all the glasses and dinner sets we received on our wedding day are broken! Any gifts for our kitchen top-up are welcome. A party will be held next year.