By Frank Ofili
Oh yes, I said I was going to return to this aspect of the marriage script. After almost 20 years of marriage, I think I am now more convinced, more than ever before, that the marriage institution has no formula for success. The institution is perhaps the most complex institution you can think of. It is the smallest institution with the largest and widest range of disciplines. Everything under the sun is in it; every conceivable area of knowledge, from biology (naturally of course) to chemistry, administration, psychology, philosophy, economics, management, even metaphysics, politics and spirituality all form part of the essential elements of marriage.
Not even the knowledge of all available areas of knowledge on earth can guarantee one success in marriage. This is perhaps what informed my refusal to attend marriage counseling sessions prior to my marriage. My wife and I simply knew that we didn’t need it. We knew that what drives marriage is not what they teach you in marriage counseling school, but love and compatibility. So the next time someone gives you those “tips” to successful marriage, simply tell whoever it is that those tips do not enjoy external validity. Nor do they enjoy universal applicability. What works for one couple may turn out a disaster for another couple. And when you read all those “dos” and “don’t’s” of a successful marriage, do not be so naïve as to apply them blindly without establishing which ones are applicable to you and your spouse.
If you are not yet married, know it today that the only key to successful marriage is love and compatibility. So instead of seeking to know the “dos” and “don’t’s”, seek a compatible partner because with compatibility comes love. Loves does not exist in a vacuum. The right environment to make it develop must exist, and what creates that right environment is the extent of your compatibility with your partner. It is compatibility with your spouse that will give you peace of mind, and once you have that in your marriage, you have achieved success. Once you have compatibility, then you don’t need to know all the “dos” and “don’t”. It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that what they read in a book or on the net would be a better teacher than what they experience first hand.
You should also know that success in marriage is not the same as blessings of marriage. Of course we all desire the blessings of marriage (children), but their absence does not necessarily translate to failure in marriage, for as the name implies, blessing can only come from God.
On the contrary only you and your spouse can make your marriage successful, and the beginning of the effort to make your marriage successful is to choose a compatible partner. You can achieve the blessings of marriage and yet not be successful in marriage. If you doubt that, then ask yourself why a man and his wife would divorce despite being blessed with children.
Most people often make the bearing of children the objective of getting married, forgetting that it is not in their power to make children. Instead of seeking to make their marriage happy and successful, which is in their capacity to do, they get into a marriage relationship with the singular objective of having children which only God can give. Such people often end up miserable, unhappy and disappointed. In their desperation, they often find themselves shuttling between spiritual prophets and native doctors, seeking from man what only God Himself gives. How ironic! This is not to say however that you should take things for grant and not seek medical help if you have to. But where medical science has confirmed you and your spouse okay, you should not waste your time and resources seeking solution elsewhere. Simply pray to God and strive to enjoy your marriage in peace.
But how do you put your marriage in the enjoyable mode? The key is to continue to re-enforce those things that make you and your spouse compatible. This, in turn, re-enforces the love between you and your spouse.