I have always been able to look at my wife's shortcomings and successes from both a father and brother's point of view. I would come home after work and Joyce would have prepared a "not so good meal" this happened quite often simply because we both come from different families that prepared their meals differently as well. When this happened the husband in me would wish to complain and criticize her but then the Father and the elder brother in me would quickly come to the surface and understand her point of view with regards to the meal at hand. I had to override my criticism with a compliment and a bit of help to make it a better meal. And this was purely my own opinion of a better meal because I was using my moms cooking as a point of reference, and Joyce was preparing the meals using her moms methods. At this point allow me once more to say that if you are looking for a wife or a husband just like your mom or dad then you might as well call off the search as there are no duplicates in that department. This could even be worse if you are already married to someone and you are trying to transform them into becoming that.
My behavior towards Joyce in our marriage was, and is still driven by those 3 commitments I made. We have been married now 28years and I have not changed, instead I have matured in all those three areas. The bonus that I did not even major in was added to me, I find myself as a husband, enjoying what I would call the best marriages so far on this planet. When we married we had no place of our own and as a result we ended up staying with my mother at her house. We stayed with her for sixteen long years, and yet not even once was there ever a need for my mother to intervene in our issues. This became so simply because even as young as I was I had made the decision to mature and live as a completely, trustworthy man with these two ladies who were both disappointed by men.
My other reason for not wanting to get my mom involved in those very few disagreements we had with Joyce was simply because I knew that since my father disappointed her she was most likely to see my mistakes in a negative way and end up biased in her judgement. As a result I lived my day to day with that unshakeable determination to become the best I could, and through God's grace I passed the test.
During that time I began to notice that my heart was being filled with a deep compassion for my wife. I started to notice that silent language of appreciation from her. At other times when coming home I would find that my wife had been very busy during the day tidying the house, cooking and even having gone a step further by doing some work outside the house. What was amazing at those times would even surprise me. I would somehow be able to know that not only was she "doing her chores" but she actually put that extra effort to send me that "please recognize my efforts" kind of message. My response would not be the normal way most husbands do, but I would respond the way a father would do. I would give her that tight assuring squeeze and a kiss on the forehead just the way dad's do. This began to build her confidence an she became more liberated by the day, and I on the other hand was maturing faster than I could handle.
The mistake that most men do is to view their unemployed wives as their maids or someone who needs to contribute with some kind of physical effort so as to make up for not bringing in any income. This has never been the case with Joyce and I. I also wish to highlight that some traditions have really confused things. When a man gets to a point where he needs someone to cook, clean, and do their washing, They go for marriage instead of employing a maid with no strings attached. That would work out much better, believe me.
The picture that I have been trying to draw here is not one of a perfect gentleman and a wife who wanted all the attention in the world. Our marriage was no different from other marriages. We were just heading in the opposite direction.We've had our challenging days when it would seem like all we were building was just a sand castle waiting for that first hard wave. The tide of disagreements came just like they normally do in any family. The only difference was in how we handled our rough waves.
Someone once asked me if there was ever a time when I felt like it was not working, and my answer was a resounding yes. It is only perfect people who never experience those moments. Joyce and I were never perfect from day one. By admitting imperfection I am not admitting to having been unfaithful to each other I have been a husband to one wife since I married Joyce and have never had a need for a partner because I never joined any dancing club. But how did we handle those situations? I think my best answer will have to be in question form. Do fathers, brothers, and siblings ever feel like quitting on each other? Yes they do.Then how come they don't? The answer is simple: There is no provision made for that! and since there is no room for that in a family setup they are forced to handle the situation in the spirit of seeking reconciliation and peace.
Our marriage with Joyce was built on a solid, mutual understanding of these principles. It was simple: If I ended up with a divorce how different would I be from my father.Would I be able to make it work the second time around, and what mentality would I bring into the second round anyway. I had to tread a completely different path in my marriage, and use different principles. So there was never room for separation or fed-up leaves, we were here to make it work, and it worked. The toughest period of our relationship was the first five years. During those years looking back I can only thank God that it worked because most of the times everything we did never made any sense at all. Another challenge was that we had friends who were also married and they were doing their things the normal way they saw their parents do things. The sad thing is that even though we were all Christians almost all our friends are now divorced, and some divorced within their first three years of marriage.Now that's what I call sad.
To be continued...