It’s very easy to love when you’re both unmarried and not living in the same house.

This is a situation that marriage easily corrects.

Let’s take this back to the very beginning. (And I’ll speak from the male point of view.)

When you, as a man, first meet this gorgeous woman, she is everything you ever wanted and more. She laughs at your jokes; she laughs with you at other’s quirks; there’s nothing you do wrong in her eyes… All of which make her so damn attractive that you cannot wait for every next opportunity to lay your hands on her sexy & flawless form. You can’t keep your hands off her – and she loves it. Passion burns you, testosterone is your best friend and seeing her sparks that familiar tingling warmth in your nethers. Rabbits have nothing on the kind of bedroom shenanigans you two pull.

(Disclaimer: There are a few that are reading this that may cringe at the fact that I’ve just alluded to premarital sex here. Which I completely understand. It would however be thoroughly irresponsible of me to paint a picture of an ideal world, despite the realities of life as it happens. Sex is a reality of our existence, and it’s time we started talking about it. But that’s the subject of another discussion.)

Then the wedding process arrives, and you started planning your lives together. And man, isn’t it beautiful! After all the sneaking around & sleeping over “at a friend’s place”, you get to meet her family, and she gets to meet yours. In Kenya, we have the traditions to uphold, which are typically marked by visits to your fiancĂ©e’s family, accompanied by goats, cows and related tokens of appreciation.

During all this, you two lovebirds cannot wait to finally say “I do” and ride off into the sunset, ready to live happily ever after. That becomes the subject of your daily night-time conversations: How she cannot wait to spend time with you; how eager you are to wake up next to her naked form every day; how much she looks forward to endless nights of conversation; how itchy you are for endless days of sex…

Then you get married.

Then you start living together.

Forever.

The prospect of ‘forever’ for some reason seems romantic when you, as a couple, still have different homes to go to. I remember how fondly my beloved Njeri and I used to use the term. We used to talk about how much we hated having to part ways every evening, and how living in the same house would finally make things better for us.

There’s something about marriage that radically alters that romantic view of ‘forever’.

The vows are easily the most touching part of every wedding ceremony: Two people, committing to stand by each other regardless of what life hurls their way. Those vows come starkly alive in marriage, when “what life hurls your way” arrives in the form of your husband /wife.

Suddenly, the woman that used to laugh at your jokes is missing. The man that was so attractive disappears. This person you live with commits a lot more wrongs than they used to. It’s almost as if they are going out of their way to annoy you. How could she do that? What was he thinking? How come she is suddenly so moody? How is it that he is now so busy? Why are there so many things wrong with this person?

And with all these doubts and questions (and inevitable fights) comes another sneaky snake silently slithering into your marriage: Less sex. [Which we shall also talk about a little later.]

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the striking beauty of marriage.

The thing about the dating process is that we only see each other for hours at a time. You are hardly ever with your lover for entire stretches of day. In that time, we are all part of this dance where we all put our best foot forward. Our partners only see us in the good times – and we only ever want to see each other in the best of lights. After all, isn’t marriage meant to be the fairy tale ending? Is this not my perfect princess / charming prince?

Our fatally flawed idea of relationships and marriage is based on the premise that this Prince Charming / Perfect Princess will bring us all the happiness we’ve ever yearned for in life. This, against the backdrop of pervious hurts we have inevitably suffered in life.

We walk into relationships and marriage thinking that this person we have chosen is perfection itself, here to redeem us from a lifetime of pain and suffering. We go in believing that this chosen partner of ours would never do anything to hurt us.

Which is technically true: We wouldn’t deliberately seek to cause pain to the ones we love.

Yet we forget one simple truth: These people are human. Humans make mistakes. Our continual mistake is to believe that this person we’ve chosen to live with will live life to OUR expectations. We forget that each of us has been completely independent of the other up until the point of marriage: Different parents, different upbringing, different biases and beliefs, different minds, different experiences… Different everything. Which, of course, creates differences. And, subsequently, conflict.

I kicked this post off with a statement:
“It’s very easy to love when you’re both unmarried and not living in the same house. This is a situation that marriage easily corrects.”

Relationships and marriage teach us what love truly is. Love cannot be conditional. You cannot chose to love someone based on what they do for you – that is selfish, and completely misses the point of being in a fulfilling and fruitful relationship.

Marriage – and relationships, by extension – teaches us to truly love this other creature for what they are.

Further (and this is a new idea I’d like us to explore in future), marriage rewrites the very definition of love.

Love doesn’t exist when we think we are offering it.
Love only exists when the recipient FEELS they are in it.

Give it a thought, and share your thoughts with me.