By Christine Katende
For many people, marriage is one thing they would like to have. And so finding the right person to settle down with can feel like one of the greatest achievements made. It is with that person that you build a relationship, share sweet memories, face the good and bad and develop each other.
However, during this life long commitment, many tend to find out things about themselves, each other and about marriage in general which can be good or bad, things they might have dealt with properly, if they had prepared better. Because they did not prepare for these however, they find that they have to learn and unlearn some things for better or worse so that their marriage can stand the test of time.
We compiled different views of people based on their experiences in marriage, of what they wish they knew before they had tied the knot.
Zaid Lwanga, business executive
I wish I knew that marriage comes with responsibilities and more than just love, maybe I would have researched more. The issue of finances is a difficult topic to handle. Who foots the household amenities like water, electricity, garbage collection among other small expenditures? Who takes care of the children’s education, health and general well-being? How much does each one of us contribute to the income for the smooth running of the household? If I had known that we would have insecurities especially when it comes to finances where one may not be comfortable and honestly willing to reveal their earnings, we would have had the talk earlier. And then there is the issue of “sente yekikazi”. When it comes to collectively catering to the needs of the family, ladies believe the man is required to take the weight of being the sole breadwinner. It is not easy but I have tried to discuss the issue with my wife and I have witnessed things getting better. Sometimes it takes time to make someone understand the other person’s side when it comes to finances.
Rebecca Fridah Ichimo, businesswoman
One thing I think about every day and honestly would advise most of the people not to get into if they have the opportunity to choose, is cohabiting. In African traditional society most of the community considers it marriage but it’s actually not marriage. And once a person does this and children come in, chances of getting married or rather formalising marriage are minimal. Some even die without formalising because when children come in all the attention and resources go to them hence one stops looking at themselves as a priority especially the woman. The good thing about all this however is the priceless gift of joy that comes along the way. So I wish I knew that cohabitation is bad; I wouldn’t have gone down that road.
Ivan Naijuka, communication’s officer
I think I was well prepared and I have not regretted anything so far. But if I knew that marriage is more than just having a wife, I would have married earlier. Personally, my wife is my best friend. We share everything, happiness and misery. With this, I find it easier to bond with her because we are good friends. Marriage is all about happiness. I have come to realise that whenever a couple is happy, they plan together about the things they should achieve in their marriage. So, the fact that we are friends makes it easy to iron out any issues that crop up and we keep our love through the blossoming relationship. The truth is that marrying a friend is having gold at hand. A friend will always understand what puts you off, your dislikes as well as what makes you happy. But where there is no friendship, someone may hurt the other without minding how they feel and that’s how people end up getting into depression if not helped.
Phiona Alinaitwe, businesswoman
I wish all people getting married could get counselling. I am glad that most of the things were explained to me during the counselling sessions I got before we got married. The counsellors literally threw light on most of the stuff to do, expect and take note of, which would call for adjustment. I have been able to put in practice whatever I was taught. I haven’t encountered anything new or surprising in my marriage. We have always kept God at the centre of our marriage. Because I was told how communication is an important aspect, we have exercised timelines, openness and honesty. With finances which is the biggest spark of disagreements between couples, we have made it a point to save together and we discuss financial activities and live within our means. We all know that marriage is a gift from God as well as children and when they come in, they should not take my partner’s place. I have tried so much to do it so that he does not complain. I came in knowing that respect, sex, trust, appreciation, faithfulness, forgiveness, submissiveness are also important if I need to live a happy married life. I was taught and I know that marriage is a combination of two different people raised in different backgrounds but can become compatible with Jesus at the centre and that is what we have.
Aidah Nyamwiza Wandabwa, cashier
I wish I knew that you do not know yourselves as a couple until you actually get married. I personally thought we knew ourselves enough, given the time we had dated but to my surprise, we actually didn’t. In marriage when reality hits, that’s when your true characters come out and because of this, some couples actually give up on their marriages during those first trying years. But that’s where commitment and determination to make your marriage work comes in. We need to manage our expectations. Having high expectations is not good because when I got married, my decision was based on love which is good but along the way, I have realised that love fluctuates and you need to be committed to your spouse and to your marriage because situations may happen and they test your love. If you are not committed you can actually give up.
James Damba Kato, fine art teacher
I wish I knew the beauty of understanding my partner’s personal background, such as her personal experience, her life challenges and hardships, and her family status. I am just realising how it has made it easy for me to prepare and plan for our marriage. Because I did research early, I was able to even solve my partner’s challenges and by the time we went in for marriage, her problems were history. I now solve issues more maturely. The issue of knowing one’s family background is important; it helps in making the right choice and know how to handle her accordingly.
Michael Sitakange, music trainer
I wish I knew that marriage is a mixture of good and bad challenging experiences and that how every situation is handled determines how successful the marriage will be. I did not know that just being in love with someone is not a foundation enough for marriage. Marriage entails a lot of various components like hard work, resilience, money, planning, and prayer, among others. I thought dating was just an entry tool into marriage, and it’s exactly what I did but I have come to realise that dating has to be continuous even in marriage. You should keep making new memories, having surprises, emotional conversations and laughing your hearts out. The truth is that when you don’t keep on dating, you end up in a disconnected marriage. I watched a movie titled The First Year is the Hardest which demonstrates a couple’s first year in marriage and essentially exemplifies the fact that when you succeed past year one of your marriage then you gain ground. The first year sets the trend, the pace, the foundation and it is important to build a stronger connection with your partner. It is the time to build a deeper understanding of your partner and a robust plan of the marriage. I wish I knew this before because I had to learn the hard way. I also didn’t know that I would be apologising and forgiving the rest of my life. Premarital classes emphasized forgiveness, though it sounded so causal but I have practically come to realize I can’t make my marriage work unless I embrace constant forgiveness and apologise when I do something wrong. I wish I knew that when true love springs up in marriage, there’s a special sense of fulfilment that I always enjoy and experience with my wife. This love comes with a sense of belonging, security and identity. Little did I know that it’s okay to disagree. I initially had a strong and conservative ego but I have learnt that disagreeing is normal and it’s lovely to put up with. It’s about respect for each other; conflicts are normal and part of marriage.
Ronald Lotet, environmental officer
I wish I had realised that the need to establish ourselves was key, especially having a number of income-generating projects. This would help give us a stronger financial base. In addition, marriage comes with inevitable responsibilities. I wish I had married after building the capacity to handle most of them (responsibilities). These include emotional capacity, psycho-social capacity and generally all the domains.
How to prepare for marriage
A family counsellor, Julie Bamuta, explains that there is a need for someone getting married to be prepared in as many ways as possible. One must know what they want because marriage means commitment, it is not for trial and error.
Bamuta says people must first work for the very qualities they are looking for in their partners-to-be. Otherwise, if one is looking for a prayerful partner, and yet she/he does not even go to church, not even on a Sunday, the marriage may not work out. Just like many who pray to get humble partners, there is need to have the same character.
However, with interests, Bamuta says a couple can easily adapt them with time. The counsellor talks about the need for people to leave behind the girlish or boyish habits the moment they enter in marriage. “Take time to know the other person’s needs and how to fulfill them,” she says, adding, “Physical and mental health is very crucial as well as physical appearance and personal hygiene.”
Kindness in a relationship is very significant but above all be respectful, loving, and have a positive attitude. “Love, understanding, faithfulness and good communication with God amidst all is key,” she highlights.