I was at a meeting recently and as God would have it, I had to talk to a group of young adults about some of the seemingly harmless mistakes I have over the years observed that singles make which eventually became the albatross of most failed marriages. The unfortunate thing is that these issues are so insignificant during courtship that it is so easy to loose sight of them or even outrightly ignore them. Marriage counsellors rarely talk about them. Relationship books are not even helping matters and so the lack of attention has actually been helping these insignificant foxes subtly ruin the marriage vines. It is a burden I have had for a while now and I never hesitate to share them at every available opportunity I get to do so. Let me briefly run through them in this piece and I trust God for positive impact as you flow with me.

1. Read Relationship Books – even pastors recommend them. The point is, the books you read goes to your subconscious and manifest in subtle ways you won’t even realize. You might have consciously forgotten the content but trust me, your brain does not. As much as it very good to read books on marriage and relationships, you really need to read other books too to fully grasp and make use of whatever you think you have learnt in relationship books. There is also the issue of cultural differences that are not often addressed. Most of the usually recommended relationship books are written by foreign authors who might not necessarily be in tune with our customs and socio-economic realities and oftentimes writes from their own experiential perspectives. The ideal thing is to read deep, read wide and meditate. Your brain has the incredible ability to extract, process and make use of complex and even seemingly unrelated knowledge such that it becomes a vital part of you and eventually shapes who you become. It is in these overall and complete knowledge that you can properly contextualize lessons taught and effectively analyse them for optimal use.

2. Assume Love Is A Feeling – someone once said ”the true test of love is commitment” and commitment is the readiness to go all the way, through thick and thin. You do not love people because you feel like it. You sit down, pray and hear God concerning the matter, evaluate yourself, evaluate them, count the cost and then make up your mind to love them no matter what. If you, being human sometimes do things that leaves you disappointed in yourself, you should be prepared to forgive those you love when they fail you. Love is a decision you take with your feelings in tune with reality so as to ensure the permanence of that decision. You have sought God, you have the leading, you have properly evaluated your realities and map out strategies to consciously and unconsciously enjoy your marriage. That’s where your convictions stem from. Once you have it, you can savour the good times and cope with the challenges of married life. Marriage is serious work and you will definitely require more than your feelings to make it work.

3. Ignore The Time Factor – although this often tells more on ladies, it affects men too. We always forget we have no control over times and seasons. We cannot really tell who Mr/Mrs Right would be and when he/she would come knocking, so instead of acting like we already had it all figured out, we need to be open to God’s direction and control. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand [Proverbs 19:21AMP]. Rather than focus on our own plans and calculations, we should strive to discern what God is telling us concerning our situations so as not to miss His plans and purposes for our lives. Parental influence can also be a contributory factor here. You see cases of parents discouraging or outrightly forbidding their wards (especially female) from being in relationships at a certain age (especially when they are in tertiary institutions) only for these same parents to be asking them about marriage plans immediately after graduation. Parents need to model good examples and help guide their children correctly rather than dish out rules and then leave them to the mercy of peer pressure and the mass media.

4. Problem Of Expectations – it is really good to have standards and desire the best life has to offer but it’s a known fact that those who truly enjoy marriage are those that went into it focussing more on what they will give than what they will get. Giving is one sure attribute of love [John 3:16]. When you genuinely love someone, you always want and strive for what is best for them. You care so much about them that giving comes natural to you. Besides, the giver is a seed sower and because the law of sowing and reaping always applies, whatever you sow get multiplied back to you. If your focus is on how to be a blessing to your partner, it is a guarantee that you will in turn be blessed in multiple folds. True love is never self seeking [1Corinthians 13:5]

5. Confuse Romance With Friendship – this is essentially why cohabitation is wrong. Your romantic involvement oftentimes blindsided you to red flags like family [e.g in-law issues], medical [e.g blood group and genotype issues] and financial [liberal or conservative] compatibility. You have too much of pecking, necking and sometimes sex that you do not have time to really know each other. You get married and a few months down the line, the honeymoon is over and then it dawned on you that you barely knew each other. Even your circle of friends become difficult to reconcile because you have fail to get acquainted with them when you should have done so. Friendship matters a whole lot in marriage because you will practically be spending the rest of your lives with each other so please do not get carried away by the romance, it is a sure recipe for disaster.

6. Fail To Marry Vision – it is ideal that married people have visions that complement each other especially because marriage is a phase that people tend to evolve and could sometimes ‘loose’ themselves. Although, it happens to men too, women in this part of the world tend to be greatly affected especially because she is expected to key into her husband’s vision even if it has no correlation with her personal purpose in life. She has to practically relinquish who she was and what she is about except it conform to that of her hubby. Passions, hobbies etc and oftentimes friends (except the ones the husband had known and become comfortable with) all gone except there is a determined effort to sustain them which is much easier to do if it complements the husband’s vision than if it does not. The upside is that hidden potentials and talents can also be discovered in the process but the more prevalent downside is that people become square pegs in round holes, practically living out someone else’s dreams. It is not just enough to marry someone with a vision, it should be a vision you can live with without losing yourself.

7. Fail To Give Their Life To Christ – we oftentimes fail to realize we need to be born again for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit has been sent through Christ to teach us all things [But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26KJV]. I always tell people that the Holy Spirit can actually teach you things way beyond your imagination or experience that you will be manifesting profound and astounding wisdom. When you give your life to Christ and get baptized in the Holy Spirit, He guards, guides and order your steps. You operate in the supernatural and your discernment is so sharp that taking decisions become stress free. I tell you what, choosing a life partner is still best done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s the surest way to have a regret free choice!