arriage they say is not a bed of roses. Marriage has grown. Marriage that we know has turned into a big boy. Marriage is now pompous. Marriage is no longer practised the way we know our parents did. The yardstick of our parents can no longer be used to measure marriage in this age of ours.
We live in a new age where everything, occasioned by technology, is moving fast, including marriage. Since we find ourselves in a fast-paced world, no one is ready to take nonsense. As they say, you only live once (YOLO), so much that life has become too short to live it in nonsense.
Since no one is ready to take nonsense in the new age, marriages are now dying at an alarming rate as though there is some sort of marital Coronavirus killing them.
In 2016, official statistics suggested that the dissolution of marriage in Nigeria was uncommon. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, only 0.2% of men and 0.3% of women legally dissolved their marriage.
However, according to a report in 2018, separation rates in Nigeria recorded a 14 percent increase. In another report published in 2018, a total of 3,000 divorce cases were recorded in Badagry, Lagos.
Meanwhile, in a 2019 report titled ‘Deciphering the high rate of Divorce in Nigeria’, Kano state alone had over 1 million registered divorcees. Morealso, according to a news report, a visit to the Social Development Secretariat, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) revealed that a total of 20 to 30 cases of divorce are reported at one of the offices daily.
Furthermore, records at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court showed that over 2,000 divorce cases were filed between the year 2019 and February 2020, with an average of 30 cases being entertained every day, even as the Court is trying hard to reconcile couples through arbitration panels.
Findings further revealed that the figure is higher at the Customary Courts, the Alkali and the Sharia Customary Courts within the FCT.
The foregoing statistics paints a gloomy picture of marriage, and gives insights into the state of marriage in Nigeria, and indeed across the globe.
We have seen marriages of not just the poor, but also those of the stupendously rich and wealthy collapse. If the marriages of Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, and that of Elon Musk and other stupidly rich billionaires can collapse, it is, therefore, safe to say money alone is not enough to keep a marriage.
But, what is enough? Why are marriages failing as though unripe fruits falling from trees? Why does ‘I do’ turn into ‘I no do again’. Why do once lovey-dovey partners grow cold? What is going wrong with marriages?
Needless to say, two persons coming together to spend the rest of their lives together in the union of marriage, must expect to have friction.
Those who have managed the frictions that come with being married well deserve some special medals. They have helped to keep the marriage institution sane, giving hope to single people that it can be gotten right.
Frictions in marriages are the issues that crop up as a result of two unique individuals coming together in the union of marriage. The ability to manage frictions goes a long way to show if a marriage will survive or not.
More importantly, the frictions that come with marriage are now managed more differently than our parents did.
To manage frictions, and save a marriage, partners have to be retrospective, examine themselves and understand what is causing frictions in the marriage.
The experience of marriage has presented some issues witnessed firsthand that can destroy any marriage in this age.
1. Backing out on terms
One of the issues that can destroy any marriage in this age, is backing out on terms. What does this mean?
Aside from the vows partners take at the altar or in the courtroom during the marriage ceremony, marriages are consummated on personal terms.
Before taking the marriage vows, partners must have first agreed on these personal terms that may have to do with health, hygiene, finances, career, children, how to raise the kids, general upkeep and wellbeing of the home, how to run the home and what have you.
Backing out on terms is a recipe for disaster in the marriage.
This is bearing in mind that in every relationship, there is always the fool’s part to be played. You can think you ‘set leg’ for your partner and they fell to marry you. They will not continue to fall in the marriage. Deception can get you married but deceptions cannot keep a marriage.
After the ceremony, reality will set in so much that you may now need to be deliberate to make the marriage work.
So, stick to terms that brought you together in the first place, through thick and thin. If there be need to renegotiate terms, it should be for collective good, and a collective agreement, not a decision taken by one party and forced down on the other.
2. Not prioritising your partner
Another issue that can destroy marriage in this age that immediately follows backing out on terms is not prioritising your partner.
At the end of the day, every human being is an emotional creature, no matter how hard some may appear.
Some partners make the mistake of pricing their job, material belongings costlier than their partners, thus giving more attention to them more than they do their partner.
Partners must, as important as making other things work, create time for each other. Partners must understand each other’s needs and mostly tilt towards fulfilling them. Know what your partner wants, and do it for them, even if it means sacrificing. In doing this, partners should not be inconsiderate; they should know when a sacrifice is being made, and be appreciative.
Partners should know the love language of their partners. Words of affection may work for some partners while actual actions may work for others. Some partners value gifts, acts of service and physical touch. When you know what works, loud it.
In whatever job you do, your partner must fit in. The job should afford you quality time with your partner.
Spending less or little time with your spouse kills marriage. Being too independent minded kills marriage. Love for party, money, impulse buying and spending, partying, financial indiscipline kill marriage. There should be a balance.
If you made the decision to marry, from the onset, you must have created a space in your life for your significant other. Once this changes, everything changes.
3. Unwillingness to learn
Use what works in your marriage. What works for and in marriage Z may not work in marriage B.
Three plus three gives six, so is four plus two and five plus one. If four plus two to give six does not yield the desired result in your marriage, drop it. If it is five plus one to arrive at six that works in the marriage, use it, always. Worse is to force two to plus three to give six. It won’t work!
Two individuals who came together for marriage must learn how to learn, must learn how to unlearn, must learn how to shift grounds and use what works. No one is perfect, they say, but they also say, learning makes perfect. A partner that always sings the chorus of no one is perfect, is a partner that is unwilling to learn. While a marriage may not achieve perfection, achieving excellence is possible.
If it is the approach of your partner that works, the other partner must learn over time to drop the approach they adopt and do not get results with to learn the approach with which to get results.
Plus, marriage is not a place for opposing principles. Partners are meant to cooperate and not compete. Partners should, therefore, be ready to learn from their partner; learn to accept and adopt principles that work and drop those that do not work.
It is a mistake to remain stagnant and expect to be loved the way you are. Love itself, in this new age, as well as money as mentioned earlier, is not enough to keep a marriage. Partners have to be deliberate.
When a partner is unwilling to learn, especially learn how to get things right, make things work, pray from Abuja to Australia, pull down the wall of Jericho, the marriage will collapse.
There is the temptation to become more hardened after correction. This should be avoided by every means possible.
How does a computer learn new things? Bit by bit!
4. Antagonism and rebellion
In this age, everyone wants to marry their bestie or at least, their partners should be their bestie. As stated earlier, partners are meant to cooperate and not compete. A partner wants to be sure that their partner got their back.
There should not be opposing energies in the home. Unhealthy competition, always opposing your partner, will destroy any marriage. If you are always against your partner, and always resist what not may, sooner than later the marriage will hit rock bottom.
Marriage is not a place for antagonism, not a place for resistance to the authority of that of the husband nor that of the wife.
Rebellion, especially calculative, and when premeditated, has killed many marriages. If partners continue to ferment trouble, nowhere else sweet wine will come from, they will have to drink sour wines.
5. Bringing third party in
Bringing third party, especially an unprofessional one, into a marriage is a recipe for failure.
An unprofessional third party will only magnify your problems. A third party, if not professional, will make a two-dimensional (his side and her side) issue become 3-dimensional or even multidimensional. Partners that have not been able to resolve two-dimensional issues, what luck do they have when issues become multidimensional.
When issues start going to third parties, they start getting out of hand.
6. Sweeping issues under the carpet
Issues are the bane of marriages. Issues partners refused to address today, will resurface tomorrow to haunt them. So are habits.
Therefore, it is not safe to sweep issues under the carpet. No matter how difficult a partner might appear, a spouse must always find an avenue to discuss issues. Do not draw conclusions when you have not discussed an issue with your partner. Do not make preemptive assumptions and do not take preemptive decisions when you are yet to hear from your partner.
Discussions should be approached with the view to build, not to destroy. Every issue should be approached positively, in a positive light and with a positive mindset.
Discussions between partners should observe the principle of quantity i.e. structured to be informative as required, and address the current purposes of exchange.
Discussions should also observe the principle of quality i.e. nothing and nothing but the truth should be said. In observing the principle of quality, do not say what you believe is false and do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Also, in discussing issues in marriage, partners should observe the principle of relevance i.e. a partner should ensure that all the information they provide is relevant to the current discussion; therefore, omitting any irrelevant information.
The principle of manner should also be observed as well. In simple terms, the principle of manner is to be clear. If this is observed, misunderstandings would be minimised. Misunderstandings should be properly addressed, especially from its onset, and not allowed to flourish.
Whereas the previous principles are primarily concerned with what is said, the principle of manner is concerned with how what is said is said. Body language counts a lot. A partner may say a dozen but what the other picked is the body language, maybe the lackadaisical attitude.
The bottom line is that, if an issue should come up, it should be deliberated exhaustively, devoid of insults. Partners should be able to address issues without recourse to overt or covert insults.
While there is no place for violence in marriage, repeated insults could lead to violence. Most importantly, do not dare your partner, especially when they are angry.
In a nutshell, partners should know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Too much and careless talk can kill a marriage.
In all, there is always a place for shifting grounds. The place of discussing issues is a place for shifting grounds, and in shifting grounds, it should be resolving on what works, and not resolving on what practice in the marriage has shown won’t work.
Resolving for what won’t work is a recipe to destroy the marriage.
In all, the channel of communication should be left perpetually open in a marriage. Marriages end when there is a breakdown in communication.
Marriage is not a place for manipulation. Marriage is not a place where you exert devious and dubious influence on your partner and you expect the marriage to remain whole. People can get away with manipulating people in business, in politics, and what have you, but not in marriage, especially in this age.
If you disrespect your partner, expect them to get angry. If you continually disrespect your partner, expect them to continually get angry. If you disrespect your partner and expect them not to get angry, it is manipulation.
When you decide to always play smart, the day your partner decides to stop playing the fool’s part, the marriage hits the brick wall.
Gaslighting is mad. Gaslighting chokes; it restricts airflow; it is what makes a partner go crazy easily.
In marriage, as noted in sweeping issues under the carpet, always say what you mean, and mean what you say. Do not say one thing, and when your partner reminds you, you meant something else. It drives a partner crazy.
Backing down on your words or always twisting them when it matters most, drives people crazy. You should be able to say a thing and stand by it when the need arises. You should be able to be the person of your words. When you manipulate your partner psychologically, they will start questioning their own sanity; expect them to go mad, someday.
If you do not want madness in your marriage, avoid gaslighting your partner. Nobody loves to be played.
9. Unrepentance and unforgiveness
Repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand, so also unrepentance and unforgiveness. Where there is an unforgiving partner, there is always first an unrepentant partner.
Mistakes are bound to happen, whether partners like it or not. When mistakes happen, forgive.
But, making mistakes should never become a habit. When mistakes become habits, a partner, no matter the strength of character, would be worn out; patience and tolerance will thin out.
A geography class on the weathering of rocks teaches that repeated wetting and drying of rocks causes exfoliation. Exfoliation over time can reduce rock to nothing.
The rule is, do not get in the habit of always giving red flags. Do not get in the habit of wrongdoing always. Do not get in the habit of always making mistakes. Most times, one red flag, one wrongdoing, one mistake is too much a burden to bear.
It is inhuman to continue in bad habits, and expect a partner to die in silence. Partners should know that for every action, there is always a reaction, whether expressed overtly or not. Repeated actions and reactions lead to a chain reaction. Negative chain reactions have destroyed marriages.
Not changing for good, but staying put and expecting a partner to accept you for who you are, is a recipe for failure.
The worse a partner will do is to try to play down or water down an offence. An unforgiving partner, most times, is made by an unrepentant partner.
At this juncture, it is important to point out that divorce is not entirely bad. In many instances, it has been a relief to a dysfunctional or unproductive marriage. However, if it’s possible to prevent a divorce, it is advisable to do so by all means.
You should know your partner. You should know what they can do and what they cannot do, and make your marriage work thereby.
PS: The institution of marriage has come a long way to exhaustively dissect issues therein in one piece. If you know any issue affecting marriages, or you have advice for married people or those intending to get married, leave a comment below.