In the last 10 years, I have learned many lessons. You live and learn, as they say. But because we are obsessed with landmarks and stuff, I thought about 10 lessons. I have surely come a long way since that day at KPC. Heck, it was so long ago, the church has long since changed names.
But this is not to trivialize the experiences of others who’ve done the decade. Every marriage is unique. Some people have discovered they are not meant to be together and they’ve called it quits before the 10th. There are those who did the decade and broke up immediately after.
So, in no particular order…
Roles are fluid. Some chores can only be done by one person. If you are better at some things, or enjoy doing certain chores more than the other person, go ahead and do them. It saves a lot time. And grief. There was a time when I would sit around expecting things to be done “because I did it yesterday” but I learned through the years that doesn’t fly.
Fess up. When you mess up – and you will mess up big by the time you make 10 – it only makes things worse if you cover up. It will go away quicker if you admit you’ve been a bad boy. You’ve spent a long time with your partner and she’s seen worse. She’s endured all your issues; surely she’ll survive this one too.
Fights and make-ups. Two people in closed spaces for a few days will blow up sooner or later. Try 10 years. Arguments will break out, that’s a given. With time, it is important to learn the language and patterns that show this is imminent. It is also important to have strategies for dousing the flames. With the foreknowledge that you’ll have these episodes, you’ll be greatly served to always ask yourself what’s important and what’s not. Being recalcitrant only makes the situation impossible to mend. Be the willow in the gale, not the oak.
Dance. Not literally if you’re not the dancing type. But there’s always a new song in the soundtrack of your marriage in the different seasons. Enjoy your life and sing along. Sometimes it is a dirge but there are many up-tempo tunes in there and you should enjoy them. You might not notice the music when you are still only a couple of years in. But you will notice it gradually. Some have a whole KadongoKamu soundtrack and others have a 1980s Soul selection at any one point in their lives. Notice it and listen to the message therein.
Nobody left on the battle field. Two people from different backgrounds sticking it out even when their very beings are against it are like soldiers on a battle field. The order is to go into the fight and not to retreat or surrender. Forget the fairy tale weddings, when the marriage has been on for a few years, the reality sets in. The wedding is not the marriage. Not glitz and smiles all around. As you navigate the sometimes rough waters, you’ll realize you cannot afford to leave your partner in the lurch. If they are not feeling up to doing something they need to do, it is up to you to encourage them. Sacrifice your time, be late, call in sick but deal with the issue at hand.
The learning curve. Getting to 10 years and looking around only confirms what you’ve suspected for the last few years; you are still green about so many things. People who’ve been married for 40, 50, 60 years start popping up all around you and you will feel a little foolish even mentioning it. In those years, you’ve failed to muster some basics of human nature that newbies to the institution are acing like a breeze. At least that’s what they say. So yeah, it is a never-ending life as a student.
Sprightly no more. So its been 10 years and you are not super hot any more. You might have gained a few kilograms along the way and also become a parent if you were lucky. You have slowly come to the realization that you are not Superman. Things are sagging in some places and receding in others. But that’s okay. You are too busy dispensing knowledge to the next generation to care even a bit. Besides, what’s a few kilos more?
Achievements. In recent years you’ve probably heard and read from a number of people who sneer that marriage is not an achievement. Well, to each their own. It is an achievement to reach a decade, in my opinion. Especially if it was an improbable match-up in the first place. In an era where it is very easy to just throw in the towel and pick up where you left off with any number of ex-potentials without society punishing you as it would have 50 years ago, it is an achievement. To say you will stand against the elements as long as the both of you have a shared goal that calls for the union is remarkable.
Confidence. A decade will give you this sense of confidence that some how, you will triumph over the dragons that lie in your path. When you step out of the home, there will be uncertainty in everything around you. You wont be able to control many of them, but back at home, you’ll be free to close your eyes without worrying that the person seated next to you will pick your phone and disappear.
Dream. Probably you have hit a few milestones together to realize this could be a great partnership. You’ve assessed each others’ strengths and weaknesses and a pattern has started to emerge: the both of you could do anything if you tag-teamed. Apart, you might not be able to achieve the different goals that might be in your head. Together, you are given the license to dream big.