[notice]A new monthly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]It’s a beginning of a new year and all of us make resolutions. We might not necessarily call them “resolutions” but we all find ourselves taking stock of where we are in life and we RESOLVE to do something to improve how we look (LOSING WEIGHT IS ONE OF THE LEADING RESOLUTIONS FOR MOST PEOPLE); we want to be less lazy; not procrastinate as much and generally be more productive. We want more money; more prestige; more influence; we want to land that deal; be promoted at work. The world we live, it seems, is always after the biggest and the brightest. More than ever people are more focused on being the best; being seen with the best and hustling to get ahead.
It is rare to hear someone say “I want to be a better spouse”; “I want to stay home more”, I want to love more; care more, be kinder; be more patient with others; be a more understanding human being. Although so many of us want to be a better mother; friend; aunt; uncle, in our celebrity obsessed generation where the focus is about how someone looks; what they are wearing; how much money they have; how big their car or how big their house we as a society now have become obsessed with I, I, I and me, me ME! It’s everyone for himself/herself. Unfortunately this mindset has spread to the home. A spouse can become so obsessed with getting ahead that they neglect their marital and parental responsibilities. So many marriages dissolve these days because people are not content with where they are; with what they have that they sacrifice the most important relationship, their relationship with their spouse. They are too impatient to work through their problems. Even though someone could be seeing the cracks in their marriage, they simply “do not have the time” to work on the issues until it is too late. Anything that is neglected shows after a while and after a while it might die.
How about at the start of this year you and I make a resolution to pay more attention to the relationships in our lives?
Make time for people
Instead of comparing yourself to your neighbours; to your friends and thinking other people’s lives are better than yours; that the grass is greener on the other side; tend your own garden of relationships. Whether it is your marriage garden or your parent garden; sibling garden or friend garden, it needs your constant care for it to blossom to what it can be. You need to nurture your relationships. Don’t take it for granted that your family understands that you are busy. If the people in your life are as important as you say they are then make time for them. One should never be too busy at work or too busy pursuing a goal and a career to a point of neglecting everything else. We are healthier and indeed richer human beings when each area in our lives is taken care of!!
When we really, REALLY want something; when we are desperate for it to happen we have discipline and are tenacious in making it work. A person can exercise for hours; change their diet to meet their weight loss goals but not be as focused in making his or her marriage work. A man can go all out in winning his lady but when they get married he does not feel the need to be more loving. A woman can take better care of her appearance and manners before she gets married but be a complete opposite after she becomes a Mrs. She lets herself go because now “I am the wife”. Be attentive where your marriage is concerned. Take stock of what you need to do to make your marriage work. Stop living in a state of denial where you do not want to confront the issues of your marriage. A garden that is neglected for some time will soon grow weeds and have the grass grow to a point where it is obvious to everyone that it needs maintenance. Likewise, if you do not tend to your marriage it will grow its own weeds; separation; growing apart; unkind words; impatience with each other; wanting to control and wanting to change each other.
Our wedding day is similar to when when we get introduced to a baby the day it is born. It is a day of new beginnings. On your wedding day you are still very much in love! No one can tell you anything bad about your spouse. Some even cry when they are saying their vows because they are so overwhelmed with love. For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health; till death do us part. The day you got married you said these exact words or something similar. Most of us marry because we truly love our spouse and want to honour our vows. It is our goal to have a wonderful marriage. You would never believe it if someone told you that months down the line; years down the line the very same prince charming will cheat on you; no one warns you that there will be days that this most beautiful girl in the world, your bride, will be irritated; turn into this monster who is hard to live with because she shouts at everything; finds fault with EVERYTHING.
Bundles of joy
When we become parents for the first time we are so overwhelmed with love for our bundles of joy. Today I celebrate seven years of my little girl’s life. I still remember the day she was born as if it happened yesterday. It is hard to believe that that baby who depended on me for everything now is the one who sometimes teaches me life lessons; she is attending BIG school now; is talking about doing homework?? In the beginning she needed me to take extra care, tender care in holding her; feeding her; clothing her. She NEEDED me to be there for her survival. We forget that a relationship is just like any baby when they are born. As a baby needs constant care to survive, so it is that our marriages need extra tender loving care and nurturing to survive! What happens though is that couples get tired of investing time to grow their “baby” through the many stages of life.
If you are a parent you will know how exhausting it can be. There are many sleepless nights in the beginning; the toddler years can be stressful; the school years where you have to transport your kids everywhere can be time consuming. We all know though that parenting is one of life’s most fulfilling blessings. I would not trade the hugs and kisses from my kids for anything. I never get tired of hearing “I love you mama”. These are the rewards of motherhood (and there are so many). They are the rewards of spending time with each of my children to know what kind of people they are. They come from being involved in their lives. You cannot be an uninvolved; absent spouse and expect a happy, wonderful marriage where you are close to your spouse.
Make time to be together. Others have termed this together time ‘date night’. Date each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When people are dating they can’t wait to be together. They miss each other. They want to be together. They boast about each other. They are tender to one another in the way they talk to each other. THEY DO THINGS TOGETEHR. They schedule time together and actually look forward to going out together. TOGETHERNESS IS KEY TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. You cannot substitute being together with your loved ones with providing material things. Commit to taking at least a few minutes each day to talk to one another. You cannot know a person without spending time together. Commit to spending time together without discussing anything depressing or stressful like work or debt; problems you might be experiencing as a family. Commit to a LIFE IN FULL BLOOM where each area of your life is not neglected –especially your relationships. At the start of this year commit, RESOLVE to be a better spouse; parent; sister; brother; aunt; uncle and friend. Tend the garden of your relationships.
Neziswa N Kanju is a mother of three young children. She and her husband Rest have run a Christian marriage ministry together for a number of years and co-present the Christian Television marriage series, Renewed Love.