After the Vow … My Options
By Ese Adonkie
I have not been married for very long, but I have been married long enough to know that happiness in anything, including marriage, is a choice.
In most cases, the time of courtship is exciting and full of promise, with everyone out to impress. Marriage, on the other hand, is an eye opener. It opens your eyes to little faults that were well managed (although not hidden) during courtship. With marriage come options--whether to keep having fun and excitement in the relationship, or to banish yourself to pain.
Right after my wedding, I began to see some signs that made me feel that my husband had changed. He preferred watching football to spending all his time gazing into my eyes. He did very little around the house, and sometimes he wanted to do his own thing--not what I wanted. So I set out to change him back to how I thought he should be, and thus, the option of commitment versus contentment came up.
Love is based on what you can give, not on what you can get. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life: we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16 KJV.) Love gives first. Where there is no giving, love doesn’t last. Love doesn’t try to judge, criticize, or change. Love looks inward, and so I had to take the burden to look within myself to see how I could reconcile myself to the situation.
Over the years, I have matured to understand that my husband and I are two different people, from different backgrounds, living together, and trying to be happy. I am not to force my way of thinking, or doing things, onto him because we are different so that we can complement each other. So, instead of getting angry if he wants to watch football, I can have my own quiet, peaceful time to do exactly as I please, and not waste it resenting him.
I’ve discovered that no matter how resentful I get, it won’t stop him from enjoying his football match. Instead, I will just get more aggravated when I hear him screaming with excitement.
There was a time when I would clean the house all day, do the shopping, groom the kids, put them to bed, make the evening meal, and then, at the end of the day, totally hate my husband for not having helped me. So each day slipped by filled with hate, resentment and unforgiveness.
We were very unhappy and we were drifting apart. Then the option of responsibilities versus rights came up. ("Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1 KJV). I could either choose to build my home, or to destroy it with quarrels and fights--tearing it apart by claiming rights. So I chose to be responsible, and saw that when I submitted to my husband and lovingly asked him for help around the house, he was humbled by my submission and could hardly refuse my request. From then on, we did the chores together and had fun all the way.
When we first got married, we used to joke a lot that divorce was not an option. Unknown to me, this sank subconsciously into my heart, so that no matter how bad things get, divorce never crosses my mind. That is the power of positive suggestions at work. Our words and confessions are very important.
I have chosen to see my marriage as a covenant, not a contract. On our wedding day, I stood before God, our family, and friends, and made a vow. I promised to see this through, and not run at the slightest sign of trouble.
We still have troubles, but because we both see our marriage as a covenant, and are willing to work towards its success, somehow we pull through and are made stronger for when the next storm arrives.
With every passing day, new options arise and I try to make the right choice. I am learning not to burden my spouse with the responsibility of making me happy ever after. Will he hurt me again? Maybe. Will I hurt him? Again, maybe, but I have chosen to expect fulfillment from God alone, while working on enjoying, instead of enduring, my marriage.
Ese Adonkie lives with her husband and two children in Paris, France, and she admits that writing is her passion. Ese is involved in the children’s ministry in her church and is currently studying to become a teacher. You can write to Ese through the Letters page of this magazine.