[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships. In today’s column Neziswa interviews Mrs South Africa 2013, Fikile Mekgoe.[/notice]
Marriage is about building a life together with your spouse. It is similar to building a house. The building process does not take a day. It takes planning, finding the builders, laying the foundation, the bricks, plastering, putting up the roof and choosing the right building accessories to make your home beautiful. Bringing the vision of an architect to life has its twists and turns. There are unforeseen events that might happen to hinder the process. Builders might need to delay building until the rainy storms and the winds have subsided. Building can be a daunting exercise and indeed building a house with your spouse is listed as one of the most stressful things you can do. Building a marriage takes work and planning.
A couple of years ago my husband and I decided to build our own house. After we had stayed in our first house for almost two years we were dissatisfied with it. We never really felt “at home”. The kitchen was outdated, we did not like how it looked and we didn’t really like the neighbourhood. We finally made the scary decision to move and to start the process of building. We had an architect who helped us draw a plan for the house. We had an idea of what we wanted, how many rooms based on our growing family, our needs as a family. We also had ideas of what we didn’t want.
There were stumbling blocks that came with the land we purchased. There was an old tree that had to be uprooted, its roots went so deep that it was a struggle digging it out. We had to hire special equipment to come and dig out that tree with its roots. In your marriage there will be “old trees” that you might need to uproot for your marriage to have a chance. “Old trees” include undealt-with sin, unfaithfulness, old secrets, destructive habits; unforgiveness and pride.
Each marriage is different
The site that we bought was previously somebody else’s backyard. I imagine children loved running around that tree and it provided much needed shade in the Pretoria sun. The problem was for the home we had in mind keeping that tree would be more of a curse than a blessing. The roots would eventually make their way to our home and start to cause cracks in the building. Sometime with your marriage there will be people who will talk about how in the good old days women were… men were. Someone’s way of doing things — someone’s way of running their home might work for them but remember EACH MARRIAGE IS DIFFERENT! Some traditions might have worked for some families but will not necessarily work for your family. As you build a life with your spouse and as you build a family do the groundwork in really discussing what will not work in your marriage. Share your expectations and hold open discussions about what you would like you marriage to look like.
Plan your marriage together. When we were building our home we both had input about what we wanted. We shared our wants. We spoke at length about “our” home. It is not one person’s home; it needs both parties to come together to build a marriage. When one person does all the work of trying to make a marriage work resentment starts to creep in. Own the process of building a life together. My husband and I can really say that this is our house. We chose the colour of the house, the tiles, decided how many rooms we wanted, how many bathrooms. Everything we decided together.
In a place where it used to be soil and dirt now stands a home. We moved into our house before it was finished which meant we did not have electricity for the first few weeks. We didn’t have doors. Those were indeed challenging times. There will be days when your marriage has no light; where there is no spark. You will need to be creative to bring the spark back in your life. When we did not have electricity that month we were very creative about a lot of things — how we boiled water, how we cooked, how we bathed and what we did for entertainment.
During the building process you will be stressed but that does not mean that you should separate. It does not mean that you abandon the building project. Ask any married couple; they will tell you that the first year and indeed the first few years of their marriage were some of the hardest years they ever had in their relationship. You want a home that will withstand any weather; any storm? Do not cheat the building process from the foundation to the kind of walls you build to the plastering, to the roofing. The materials you use from the ground up must withstand all kinds of situations so that they can protect your family. You have to think long term. Ask yourself for my marriage to still be standing five years from now, 20 years indeed 50 years from now, what must I put in place now? The foundation years of your relationship are when you are getting to know each other. How you resolve the rains of conflict that might destroy your family. How you put the roof of love to bind all the walls of your family together. All of these elements and materials are vital to build a strong marriage that lasts.
Power of a vison
Before we built our home the builders had a plan and they literally took paint and marked on the ground where each room will be. Many times we went to the building site before even the first brick was laid. We used to walk through “the rooms” as we envisioned our life in that space. It was funny and in a way we were bringing the vision of our home to our mind’s reality. Now that we are living in our home I look back with wonder at the power of having a vision and seeing it to reality. To realise that just six years ago there was nothing but soil in the very place we now call home. Where once was rubble and dirt now stands a house filled with laughter and love abundant.
Your marriage is going to be up to you to see it through. Together with your spouse write this vision down and proceed to build the marriage you have always wanted. Think about what are the foundational principles.
Even now six years after we moved in we are constantly looking for ways to improve and decorate our beloved home. We have all heard that marriage needs work. It’s true!!!!! You will always have to be looking for ways to make your marriage work and not stagnate. So many people look outside the marriage because they are bored. Well just like you will buy new curtains or decorate your bedroom with new duvets you have to look for different ways to constantly “decorate” your marriage.
Each house built is different, even if it is one of the modern day townhouses that look the same. The fact is they are totally different. For one they might look the same on the outside but they are not on the same plot. The plot is different. The people who make a house a home are the people who are in it. They decide how to furnish it, how to fragrance it. The walls of these townhouses might look the same but they will all tell you different stories about the people who live in them. Make your marriage yours. If you do not like the look of your marriage change it. You might need to go through some drastic changes to seeing the vision that you have for your marriage. If your marriage is not working and it has not worked for many years do not discard the marriage but look at a different type of model for it. Negotiate what will work for the two of you. Be willing to work very hard during the process of building your marriage and be respectful of your spouse’s needs and wants. Realise that it is going to take both of you to make it worth. It will take both of you to build something that you will both love.
Create a life you love. It is your marriage, it is your life. You were once in love with this man, with this woman and because of a series of events you might not feel that you love them anymore. Be honest with each other.
No place like home
There is a saying that we all love to quote: “There’s no place like home”. Home should be where you are cherished, celebrated and loved. It is where you can be yourself and where you feel secure. When the world rejects you, home is where you can run to. Your spouse should be that for you. My husband said something profound once to me he said “My home is where you are”. I pray that never changes!!!!!!!!!!! That is the result of years of working at our marriage. It has come because we have been intentional about the kind of marriage we both want. We are still working on building our marriage!!
Looking around many neighbourhoods you will see many building projects that are not finished. The builder started the building and put in the foundation and some walls; in some buildings we even see the different rooms but there is no roof and the walls are not plastered. IF YOUR MARRIAGE IS BROKEN FIX IT DON’T THROW IT AWAY. Commit to work towards a happy marriage and keep working at it. You can restore the ruins of your marriage. Just like a building that is in ruins can be restored so can your marriage. It might not look the way it did when it was first built but with time the building can be renovated to something truly beautiful!!!!!!!!!!
Your marriage starts of as a piece of paper, a marriage licence. Just like a building starts as a piece of land. What eventually goes on that piece of land is up to the owner. The type of structure they build is entirely up to them and to the plan they drafted. What plan will you draft today? How do YOU want your marriage to look? Create the kind of marriage you want. Dream together; plan together and build together WITH GOD!!!
Let us keep the conversation going. Please like my page on facebook: Life in Full Bloom with Neziswa N Kanju or Renewed Love (Rest and Neziswa N Kanju). You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org