Are you planning for the pain? – Joy Ehonwa

Are you planning for the pain? – Joy Ehonwa

When we think of getting married, we’re usually thinking of the good times. We know that there are tough times in life, but those are not the thoughts our minds caress, and when we close our eyes, those are not the scenes we envision. This gorgeous, amazing, smart, funny, successful, sexy person will soon be ours forever, and together we will make the cutest little babies and live happily ever after.

I remember when I lived and worked in Warri, there was this guy (let’s call him Leo) who wanted to marry me. Now, Leo and I had never interacted. He simply saw me walking past the microfinance bank where he worked, and decided he just had to marry me. Boy, did I regret giving him my number! He liked the way I walked (my yeye waka o, you see this life?) or as he put it, “bounced” and he couldn’t wait to “march me down the aisle”. He was “ready to settle down” and would send me messages about how he could just picture me, his wife, in my lingerie and how that could just make any man lose his mind. Then he would type ooohs and aaahs at the end of the texts. My boyfriend and I would read them and laugh till we had tears in our eyes. I wonder who he married, and what he based his decision on. Beauty and waka and what I imagine you must look like naked?

If (like my BFF, sorry hon!) you have actually had the opportunity to witness married life up close, then maybe some of the shine has been taken off it, and you’re now conscious of the fact that the feelings won’t always be there, that you have a lot of forgiving and letting go to do, and that you’ll have to deal with the flaws and quirks of the person you marry. Still, it’s all good, because you’re thinking about marriage, and not about life.

Yet, the marriage is not a separate entity. The marriage is life and life is the marriage. And life has a way of happening to you, you know? I think it was Yoko Ono who said “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making plans.”

Sometimes redundancy doesn’t respect your newlywed status, coming on the heels of your honeymoon and cutting off the income on which you had based your tall dreams. While you wait for another job to come even as you struggle to adjust to married life, will you still recognise the person you married? Who do they become when life happens?

Can you smile through the pain?
Can you smile through the pain?

Sometimes, even when you’ve prayed hard for “supernatural childbirth” you may end up being taken in for a caesarean, and the N250, 000 you budgeted for delivery becomes one million naira. Life happens. How will they handle it? Sometimes “I carried you for 9 months!” isn’t something you’ll ever be able to say to this child because it’s only 7 months and you’re in labour. When you’re discharged and have to go home with no baby in your belly and no baby in your arms, how will they handle it? Those days spent peering into the incubator, expressing breast milk to be fed through your baby’s nose, and going home to silence, require resilience, maturity and rock solid faith, things we’re not usually thinking about when we commit to spending the rest of our lives with someone.

You don’t want to hear that you have one blocked fallopian tube and one functional ovary, and have the one who should be standing by you turn hostile because they can’t deal. You don’t want to be in the hospital with a sick child after your doctor tells you your little baby needs surgery, while your spouse is somewhere having fun with the boys, or worse still, with another woman. You don’t want someone who hits you and you’re expected to understand and bear it because, you know, he is under pressure. Yet the truth is that some people just don’t know how to deal with challenges. They simply never grew up in that regard.

Bad things do happen to good people, and marriage is often challenging because life itself is challenging. If you’re marrying someone who cannot handle life, who constantly whines “Why is this happening to me? Why do I have to go through this?” or someone who expects everything to go the way they’ve always anticipated because they pay tithe and attend church regularly, then you’ll be dealing with a very disillusioned partner very soon. Or worse still, one who lives in denial. It’s in the valley we stretch and grow. If you get hitched to someone who cannot handle the valley, then you’re in for a very rough ride.

Your intended may be near-perfect, all you’ve ever wanted and more, too good to be true, but you must check their attitude to suffering. Ask yourself, “Does this person handle life well?”

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