I shall be going to my girlfriend’s family for an official first visit (kukyala) in a month’s time. I am excited because I believe this is the woman for me. My girlfriend Jenny is caring, honest, patient and treats me like no other girl I have been with. I love her dearly. The only problem is that ever since I declared my intentions to marry her, she has kept asking me not to change after the wedding. Every time we talk about marriage, she keeps saying she hopes I will not change after we have tied the knot. I have tried to assure her that I won’t but she keeps bringing it up. What can I say or do to make her believe I shall not change?
Congratulations on finding the woman you want to make your wife. This is a big step and you sound excited about it. Now onto Jenny’s worry. Because Jenny has brought this comment up many times, it is a big issue for her. The first thing you need to find out is what she means when she talks about you changing. What change exactly is she talking about? A change in attitude? For example, is she worried that while right now you are supportive of her career or business plans, you might change later? Or that while you are currently romantic, the numerous dates and gifts will disappear after? Is she talking about a change in character? Does she feel like right now you are a caring and patient person but this might change once she becomes your wife? Does she worry that while you are faithful now, after you marry, you will cheat on her? Seek out what she means when she says you are likely to change.
After finding that out, you need to discover where her fear and worry comes from. Has she been in a situation where she dated someone who seemed wonderful at the start but changed years down the road? Has she seen friends or close relatives who had boyfriends that were “good” men during courtship but changed and treated their wives badly after they got married? It is important to find out the root cause of her fears because when you do, you will have an idea of how to deal with the problem.
How then will you solve this issue?
I am afraid just telling her you will not change, or that you are “not like other men”, is not going to be enough. You need to deal with the specific issues she might raise and discuss them at length. For example, if she is afraid of infidelity on your part, ask her why she is worried about that and then discuss how you can both work towards making sure it does not happen. Reassure her of your love and faithfulness towards her, but also talk about the things you or she can do to help make sure you do not cheat on her. If she is worried that you might stop supporting her ideas, discuss what kind of career or business is important to her, what its future looks like and how you will both be involved. Discussing early enough, practical ways on how you can ensure that the two of you do not stop doing the good things you have been doing for each other, will help you as a couple prepare yourselves to dodge or easily deal with some challenges. It will also make her feel you care about the issue as much as she does and it will reassure her of your commitment.
My final piece of advice is this. Tom, you will change. So will Jenny. The couple you are today will not be the same couple you will be in six years time. Having to spend the rest of your life with someone who is from a different background and has a different perspective on many issues will change you. Becoming a parent will change you. Dealing with in-laws, career changes, demanding new priorities such as building a home, will change you both. You might face situations you have never faced before such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or business, getting a totally new career and so on. Because you have never been in such a situation before, your reaction might be surprising to your spouse and even yourself. Both of you therefore need to make room for those days, weeks, months or even years where your spouse might not be as loving, patient, caring or romantic as you would like because they are battling many emotions and problems. It is at such times that you need to be a rock for your wife/husband. The good news is however, that if you are open and honest with each other and continuously discuss your fears, worries, joys and so on, with a motive of finding solutions or creating peace and joy in your home, you will both change for the better to become a mature, financially prudent, more loving and stable couple.
It is for this reason that communication between a couple cannot be overemphasized. So go back and talk to Jenny at length. Remember to be a good listener, be open with her and at the end of the day seek a lasting solution.
Carol Beyanga is a woman who has been married for 12 years and is happy to share her knowledge and counsel with young couples. Although she is not a professional counsellor or agony aunt, her advice stems from experience and lots of reading. She is also an editor at Monitor Publications Limited and a mentor to many young people.
Send any counselling queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be sure to help.