I have been listening to sermons on restoration. If all these happened during the courtship, I’d have left the relationship, but I am married now. So from all the counsel I have received, I now know God will have to turn my mess around. Marrying Dipo might not have been His perfect will. It might have been His permissive will but I am married and because God hates divorce (see Malachi 2:16), I will do what I can to invite Him into my home to fix my mess. It has been 8 months of praying, fasting and more praying. God has been indeed merciful to me and to my home. What I have been through, I do not wish on even my most hated enemy. But the lessons I have garnered over the period, I share for free.
I joined the prayer department Nkechi’s church and constantly prayed. There, I learned that although I was praying all along, I was harbouring so much bitterness in my heart and he who approaches the throne of grace must do so with clean hands AND a clean heart. I had clean hands-I was not cheating or hurting anyone in any way. However, my heart was blackened with bitterness, anger and all manners of ill feelings towards Dipo, his friends and the girl in his life.
The first step I took was to forgive. You see, forgiveness, I discovered goes past merely saying to yourself that you have forgiven someone. You need to accept how deeply you were/are hurting. You need to forgive the person despite the hurts and also think good thoughts towards them, if possible, make excuses for the person and let it go! Now, being human, this does not come to us naturally. Hence the need for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. After weeks of wailing, crying, deep depression, I forgave all I felt hurt by. I let them all go. Only then did I begin to experience true healing and peace.
What made it more painful was that even as I was going through this ‘forgiveness phase’, Dipo was not changing. He still never spoke to me with love. He still snapped at me. He still went away for days without telling me where he was off to. But I made a conscious decision to forgive him. Forgiveness also entailed letting go of a wrong done before it happens. The next step I took was to stop checking up on him. This means that I stopped tracking his car and checking his phones or iPad whenever he stepped into the bathroom. What this helped with is to ensure my feelings of pain and sadness were not daily reignited. I was not living in denial. But I certainly did not need a daily reminder of what is wrong with my life and my marriage. By refraining from so doing, I was able to slowly rebuild joy into my life. I see him and I don’t think of where he was the night before. I think of anything I want- I think he was with friends, with family, at work, anything. My mind is free to roam and dwell on good possibilities.
The third step was to pray for my husband. Now this seems wrongly placed since all along I had been praying. It is true that I had been praying but my prayers focused on asking God to change him and make my marriage better, sweeter, successful. Now, I pick out an area of his life daily and speak words that build into those areas: his health, his career path, his difficult boss, his parents, his finances, his travels. I would pray constantly that God sees him through and make him successful in all of his endeavours. Trust me, this is the pinnacle of forgiveness-when you can begin to pray for someone who has hurt you. I prayed for him hard enough that even I knew that I had prayed.
Finally, I spoke words of confession into my marriage: my marriage will not break; I shall be called wonderful by my husband; I shall be fruitful; together, my husband and I shall build a home to show forth God’s glory. I just kept speaking those words constantly. The change eventually came. It was not instant but it came.
Dipo became more attentive. He’d invite his friends over on Saturdays for football and general banter and so, I would make them finger foods and cocktails. They never missed a Saturday. I began to invite their wives too who would assist with serving and cleaning up and we all would happily discuss issues from politics, career, music, all sorts. The first few Saturdays, after they had all left, Dipo would pick his car keys and drive out or just find something to do that does not involve me. One Saturday, after the last couple left, Dipo brough out the hoover and helped to clean up the living room. We didn’t say much but he was gentle and helped me pack all the stuff away. I went to bed right after.
Two months passed and things became better. I still was not in the dream marriage but I was praying and working towards it, trusting God for His daily intervention in my affairs. I was also encouraged not to be moved by the present circumstances but focused on what the future holds and trust in God.
The word of God never lies. The change came. He woke me up in the middle of one night, at about 2 am. He knelt before me and begged me with tears in his eyes. He apologised for all he had done to hurt me. He apologised for all he had done to hurt our marriage. He went on and on. I was shell shocked. Was this Dipo? Slightly pushing my ‘luck’, I asked him, ‘what exactly happened?’, ‘where did I go wrong?’. He was quiet for a while. Then told me that I had done nothing wrong and he had no idea why exactly he went on the mission to break our home. I needed to hear my faults so as to know how to avoid them in the future. Apparently, he did not know exactly it was, but he gradually grew bitter towards me. We wept together and vowed to make things better. That night, we did not go back to bed till 5 am and we had to get back up at 6 am for work!
We started attending church together and signed up for a two week counselling class with our pastor where we learned much more about how to make our marriage better. 7 weeks ago, we took a week long holiday to Kenya and just yesterday, the doctor confirmed that we conceived on our first night in Nairobi. I’m grateful. I’m happy. I get sad from time to time when I think of Dipo on top of another woman but I’m quick to let it go and concentrate on what lies ahead. It is not easy but God has been helpful.
I must share some basic lessons from my experience.
1. Pray before you decide to get married to any one and pray, pray and pray.
2. When sure, pray even more.
3. When married, don’t wait for there to be a problem before you keep praying.
4. Find time to talk to older married people. It was when our problems began and I shared them that I realize that people have been through it and worse. Some of those who keep smiling have been through the most difficult things.
5. As a woman, you know when your man is slipping away. Find a way to spark things up!!! You won’t get thatv from your Bible though. Google it if you’re too shy to ask someone. Go to a hotel for the weekend. Don’t wait to travel abroad. That decent and nice hotel near your house will do (you can even pay for it!!!) It’s not just by cooking. You need to do much more to keep things fresh.
6. Speak up. Address issues when they arise.
7. I’m not contradicting ‘6’ but please keep quiet. Learn when to let things go. Not everything needs to be discussed, at least not with not your man. Talk to God, talk to your girlfriends, talk to your sister. Girls understand the need to bond better.
8. Forgiveness is key. Learn to forgive through the grace of God.
I wish you all the best in your marriages. God bless you!