Heart to Heart

Is it true marriage is no bed of roses?

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Posted  Thursday, April 24   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Before a bride or groom walks down the aisle, family and friends often throw stag parties and bridal showers to bid farewell to singlehood. During these moments, a few marrieds will chip in a wise word or two about the institution these young people are getting into. They will tell them that things won’t always be as rosy as they may anticipate, that there will be hurdles along the way.

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They say marriage can be fun, wild, sexy, frustrating, boring, exciting, and productive. I have not been there yet, so I can’t justify this, but all I know is that many good things are challenging.
As a young person, you are probably used to the world of fun and it is obvious that marriage does close most of these doors. But it also opens others, especially if you happen to fall in the arms of the right person.
Problem is, most couples get married without keenly studying each other. Why is it that today people can’t last more than 12 months before contemplating divorce? Is marriage that hard?

Jane Chelimo, a banker, says: “Funny, my husband and I were just talking about this last week. He has a coworker who is always talking about how hard marriage is. I have been married for eight years, and honestly I would not point at any day that I felt marriage was hard. We have gone through layoffs and financial stress, but our marriage has never been challenging. I don’t know why so many marriages are “hard”, I just know mine has not been.”
She thinks many people today marry someone they probably shouldn’t have ended up with.

“Conflicting personalities will always make a relationship hard. We decided not to have more children after our first child because we like the peace we have now. I‘m not saying our marriage will never be hard, we just haven’t walked that road yet. We are both willing to do everything to hold on, should we ever encounter hard times,” Chelimo says, before taking off to pick her child from school.

Michele Weiner Davis, author of numerous books, including The Divorce Remedy, says marriage is hard work. There will always be times when you think about giving up rather than giving in. Not all arguments in marriage have happy endings.

Handling issues
“Marriages go through developmental stages and predictable crises. But because people are unfamiliar with the normal hills and valleys of marriage, these predictable transitional periods are often misunderstood, causing over-reactions,” Davis writes.

If you have been through hell in the way some couples have, you would certainly describe it as “hard” at times. However, how you handle your challenges in marriage is what matters.

Mary Ayo, who has been married for 10 years, admits that marriage is tough.
“If I can come up with one word to describe the last 10 years of my marriage, it would be “HARD”. Maybe my marriage has been a lot harder than other people’s. I have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because my husband doesn’t show me affection. I have had to lie to him about things like going to lunch with my mom or buying groceries to avoid a huge argument,” Ayo says.

For many couples today, when things do not work out, they will hurry to separate instead of trying to work things out.
“I have considered ending my marriage more than once. We are both “normal” people from similar backgrounds and we love each other. Yes, my husband is a good man and a great father, but things are just HARD,” Ayo adds.
Joseph Arinaitwe, who has been married for the past 15 years, thinks otherwise.
“I don’t know if I’m just lucky. I got married at 27 and I am still married to the same woman, 15 years later. Yes, we’ve had our fights, but there has never been a time when we have had problems to a point of wanting to break up. I hope there never will be,” Arinaitwe says.

As the novelist Hanif Kureishi writes: “I know love is dark work; you have to get your hands dirty. If you hold back, nothing interesting happens. At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you.”

Elizabeth Asiimwe, a counsellor at Makerere University, says marriage requires the ability to tolerate anguish and continuously make micro and macro corrections.

“Even those of us with “happy” marriages are familiar with the times when the tension slips just a touch to the darker side. Sometimes the effort to shift it back into balance feels massive,” she says.
Asiimwe adds that self-responsible spouses do not try to change their partners. Instead, they focus on managing their own insecurities and dark mood, expectations and reactions.

“Don’t blame someone else for your problems. Be self-aware and be prepared to self-improve. This will obviously work only if your spouse is willing to do the same,” she says.