Just like spices add flavour to foods and make them palatable, there are also ‘special spices’ which make marriage sweet, pleasant, more enjoyable and long-lasting. These kinds of spices are like ingredients, which some counsellors would not hint on during the process. Attention is usually focused more on such well-worn platitudes like ‘pray more for your spouse’ ‘be patient and more tolerant’ as the only ways to sustain the marriage. Much as the foregoing advice still work, but it is also politically correct to deploy marital diplomacy and public relations so as to enhance and engender peace in the relationship.
Marriage is an old institution with players showcasing different attributes that work for them. A simple adage says that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Ingredients differ in marriages for both men and women based on various reasons and such motives are the way they dance to different music.
Whatever that works for Lady ‘A’ might not work for Lady ‘B’ after all because the sauce will not be the same. It, therefore, becomes necessary for both to figure out what makes them happy. However, whichever way one wants his or her pendulum to swing depends on the music and dance step one follows. Most of the marital brouhaha experienced in homes result from improper utterances, altercations, rudeness, competition and misinterpretation of body languages of the two people involved in the marriage. If the mouth says all that the eye sees, peace will be far away from the environment.
Interestingly, some of the marital challenges would have been averted if a little marital politics, eye-service capped with public relations were applied in such situations, to make the journey sweet and smooth. A neighbour, who is a young pregnant wife, sat in the sitting room, with her legs raised on a low stool watching television while her husband was in the kitchen pounding yam for both to eat. Suddenly, the man’s elder sister knocked on the front door and was walked in. Aunty took in the scene and then queried: “What is happening here? The young wife responded politely, “Auntie, I came back from the hospital and the doctor said I should get some rest to avoid miscarriage; I pleaded with my husband to kindly prepare food.” The tempo calmed down because that is a wife that wants to run away from trouble. If she had said, “What is wrong if my husband prepares the meal for both of us,” the aunty’s next words could have lit a fire. Two different statements, two different outcomes: one positive, the other negative. If the pregnant wife had uttered the second statement above, she would have dropped a bit of bile in the heart of the aunty, who would have gone away to spread tales about the wife of her brother and poisons the minds of other people among their kith and kin.
In the same vein, the pastor of a big church returned from a foreign trip and his luggage were carried into their family house, his mother complained that the daughter-in-law had taken her son from her. Pastor brought out the suitcase filled with books and journals and asked Mama to make her choice; she could not because she was not literate. By that simple move, the man shielded his wife from the wrath of his mother with a touch of diplomacy and public relations.
On individual basis, spouses who respect and appreciate each other in public despite challenges will always have a happy home. I give it to Papa Innocent and his wife, Mama Susana, back then in the village. In the middle of a hot argument and altercation as they aged, if somebody knocked on the door at that moment, Papa would switch mood, turn 180 degrees in praise of his wife. At that very moment, he would not angrily call her ‘Susanna’ but rather addresses her affectionately as ‘My dear’ and the visitor would think all is well because he would have seen respect take the upper hand.
Appreciating one another is also a key to having a happy union. Give gifts, no matter how little; make out time to enjoy simple things together – visit places, stroll, eat out and share drinks. When the ingredients that make marriage sweet, flavoured and palatable are lacking, the marital relationship becomes drab, unexciting and uninteresting. A sister who walked away from an abusive marriage said: “The moment I was fed up, my husband’s presence began to irritate me. I refused to be near him until I left the house.”
Pretense, politics and eye service can go a long way to minimize issues in marriage and keep it on an even keel. A celebrity who does want to be identified in print, made this revelation: “I cooked members of my husband’s family and put them in my pocket. Whenever they were around, I made sure I dished out the best of cuisines from my kitchen. His family loves me because of my quality cooking and services. During family engagements, I serve them to the best of my ability. When my husband reports me to them, they all rise in my defence.”
Flippant people who give out the length of their tongues might be sowing seeds of discord. A video clip trended on social media where a believing sister betrayed another. Sister Vicky and Alice were friends, course mates and members of the Scripture Union. Vicky had whispered to Alice that she missed her period; in no time, the news spread like wild fire on campus and even to their religious body. The leaders summoned both ladies and demanded to know who was responsible for the pregnancy. Alice said, “Yes, I missed my Physics practical period.” People looked at each in confusion and shocked that what was ordinarily a non-issue had been into a ruckus because of the flippant tongue of a supposed confidant. Flippancy is not an ingredient for good relationship.
Again, appreciation, smiles, pet names, apologies and hugs strengthen the bond between spouses and keep them happy with each other. There are couples who do not express these simple relationship-enhancing things, but rather wait till the night time when they would become lions and lionesses. Romance should not be limited to the night alone. It should be a round-the-clock expression of affection.
Now, people whose handwork is to run other people by spreading gossip should know that it would not in any way profit them. Couples who run themselves down before family members, neighbours, their church members and social media groups obviously do not have the required ingredients that make marriage. When words are spoken out, they are difficult to take back. Some of the words might not find real forgiveness. It is not necessary for a happy union.
Once more, have you as a couple made God the king of your marriage or are you just using your own imagination? Praying with bad attitude will not allow peace to reign in your marriage. A prayer warrior who is full of abusive language is not real. As the Bible enjoins, good and bad water cannot flow from the same source; you cannot combine earnest prayer with bad, foul language and conduct. Iniquity and righteousness do not mix. There should be a difference between an astute prayer warrior and one who is sitting on the edge of the praying habit. Pray with all sincerity and apply the rules of the prayer before God and man, you will have a good and happy home.
Then, the intimacy of the night is the final word. Couples should enjoy their intimacy, which is ordained by God. It is when these rules are applied that sexual intimacy climaxes at the crescendo.
Dear Nigerian couples, the responsibility for making the marriage work is not only for the man or woman. Rather, both spouses should go back to the drawing board and put in the necessary ingredients. If you have abused your in-laws and wait to be the king of the night, you might not get it right. As a wife, if you do not give your husband full respect and yet you want him to love and care for you, then go and repent.
Marriage is a wonderful journey for both if the ingredients are applied in all honesty.