We spent the last few weeks fighting corruption. Today I thought we would break away from that to discuss a different topic- preparing for marriage.
My husband and I do a lot of premarital and marital counseling as well as lead seminars around town. In these, we have realised this is a hot topic of great interest– how do we pick the right spouse and how do we make sure marriage is everything we hope it will be?
To start, I want to give you a little history on us. I came to Botswana in 2000. Fresh out of university, I came with a desire to serve and make a positive impact. My job was to work in all the junior and senior secondary schools in Francistown teaching character development and Biblical principles.
During that time, I met Percy Thaba – our story is actually quite unbelievable since it started with God clearly telling me I would marry a man named Percy Thaba before I met him, but we will save that for another day.
The point for today is that we could not have been more different! He is black; I am white.
He is a Motswana from Tutume; I am an American from South Georgia where racism is still very real. I grew up in an upper middle class family taking summer vacations to Europe and winter vacations to snow ski in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado; he doesn’t ever remember taking a vacation as holidays were spent at the cattle post or in the fields working.
Can you picture it? We grew up in different worlds! So, when God told me to marry Percy, I was scared! Would we have anything in common? How would we make it work? Let me tell you – that assumption that it WOULD NOT WORK was the best thing that could have happened to us.
Wanna know why? Because it forced us to REALLY talk about EVERYTHING before we got married! I mean EVERYTHING! We did NOT assume we would just make our marriage work on love.
The differences were too huge to not seriously discuss the intricacies of how we saw our future together playing out.
There were times we would run out of topics and we would literally pull the brown encyclopedias off his parent’s bookshelf and randomly open to a topic to discuss our views on it! This was before the average person had access to internet and Google! Ha!
We have been married for over 15 years and I can tell you that we LOVE BEING MARRIED!! I mean love love love it! I thank God it was literally a match made in heaven, because I could not have hand picked a better person on the PLANET!
He is seriously the most amazing man that I have ever met and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t consider myself the most blessed girl in the world to share my life with him! But our fantastic marriage didn’t happen by accident.
It happened largely due to us putting immense effort into working on our communication skills and talking about our future in our dating time through a lot of pre-marital counseling.
It has continued to thrive because we still put a lot of effort into constantly working on our marriage and take advantage of any opportunity to continue learning tips from others who have gone before us by reading books, attending seminars, and watching YouTube videos on the topic.
That is why we are motivated to help others through premarital and marital counseling.
We want people to experience the JOY that marriage has to offer!! It does not have to be the negative Ball and Chain as we have derogatorily heard it said! We have seen too many couples just assume that because they are in love, that life will play out like in the movies. And. IT. NEVER. DOES! Never… because feelings fade so there must be more that the relationship is built on if it is to go the distance.
Our KEY secret is individually seeking God to fill up with love and seek His daily guidance! In addition to personal relationships with Jesus, we work extensively on communication.
Raising children in an agreed manner, spending money without constant fighting, and how each individual spends their free time – these are all popular areas of conflict with couples we counsel. And many times when we ask them – did you speak about these issues before marriage – the answer is “not really. We just assumed we agreed on these issues.”
Another common problem we find is that many couples ignore red flags/warning signs in the ignorant thinking that “it will be better when we get married.”
Let me tell you – that is hardly ever the case. Once the “chase” is over and you both settle into “real life”, almost always things get worse.
If there was drinking in excess, cheating, abuse, lack of good communication, etc. it generally gets worse as you get more comfortable with each other and life’s trials put more strain on you.
I could go on, but my point is if you are not married – please let me conclude this article by begging you for the sake of our ever increasing divorce rates to please take the time to seek pre-marital counsel! Take the time to talk! Do not assume marriage will be wonderful without work.
But DO KNOW that marriage can and WILL be wonderful with some work!! Next week, I am going to address some common questions and answers people usually ask us in Pre-Marital conferences hoping some of the answers will encourage and help you.
Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker and life coach. She is the author of the well-known books, Dive In and Conquering the Giants.
She also facilitates corporate team building and wellness activities. You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.