“A man in pursuit of love is an unreliable witness”
I’ve been married for the sum total of 2 whole months now. In these past few weeks there have been a few things that have made me stop and think, “wow, a man in pursuit of love is an unreliable witness.” It started off with strange gassy noises that I’d never heard my now husband make before. Then we would snuggle up on the sofa to watch what I assumed would be mutually loved low-brow sitcoms, only to discover that they were not his cup of tea. Lastly considering he had always assured me that he was, out of the two of us, the one most likely to require an orderly, cleanly home, I kept finding dirty socks in the most random of places. I shared these discoveries with my husband’s three sisters only to be met with a knowing chuckle and an expression that told me, “I could have told you that”.
I am grateful to have my husband’s sisters in my life not just as sisters-in-love (a much more accurate phrase), but also as genuine friends. Reflecting on the last few weeks has made me value their input in our courtship much more for one simple reason: if dirty socks are the biggest surprise I have to deal with, they’ve done well.
The Courtship Bubble
In courtship it can be really easy to become absorbed in your relationship. The temptation to isolate yourselves from your families and friends can be overpowering. You wake up thinking of that person. You are desperate to talk to them and you spend every last minute of phone credit delving into their soul. Everything they say sounds profound and (if you are doing courtship God’s way) the lack of physical intimacy only drives your intellectual, spiritual and emotional intimacy deeper. Courtship can be intoxicating and so can the feeling of knowing a person better than anyone else in the world.
Here’s the wake-up call: Christian or not, we all like to put our best foot forward. We all present ourselves in the best possible light when we are courting; not necessarily to be deceptive, but because it’s human nature. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to appear desirable to your other half in the early stages; there is a latent danger that in doing so, they will not get the total picture of who you are.
So many women talk about ‘saving the crazy for after the ring’. So many men abandon all romantic endeavours once ‘the chase’ is officially over. In my humble opinion, most people are shocked in the first year of marriage by their spouse’s behaviour because they did not take the time to do their due diligence beforehand. Due diligence has many facets (stay tuned for future posts) but the one I want to focus on today is the secret weapon of the family.
They know him better than you
If you walk down the aisle with the mindset of, ‘nobody knows him like I do’. I think you’ve missed a trick. It’s a very presumptuous and naïve thing to think that you know the person you are about to marry inside and out. It is also very unwise to believe that you know him or her better than the people that have raised and lived with him for twenty or thirty-something years. He may tell you his secrets or share his heart with you, but the very essence of his character, life views and unalterable habits are lived out in the little everyday actions that you just don’t see.
They say that if you want to know how your husband will treat you, look at how he treats his mum. To an extent I agree, but here’s something that perhaps hasn’t occurred to you (it didn’t occur to me until I was corrected by our mentor). If he has siblings, (especially if they are sisters), observe how he treats them. His mother is most likely an authority in his life and possibly someone he dotes on. How does he treat his little sister? Get close to the people in his life that he has never been guarded around. They will tell you about the times he forgets their birthday. They will expose his unseemly habits. They will tell you whether his is considerate, whether he drops everything to pick them up when they are late coming home. They will tell you about the fact that he disappears every night at 10pm without fail to spend time with God. They will tell you of his weaknesses and strengths.
No such thing as ‘love island’
No relationship should be an island, especially when that relationship is courtship. Courtship is the time to address issues that could affect your marriage. How can you do that if you refuse to find out what those issues are? I was about half-way through my courtship when I realised this truth. My husband used to tell me that he wasn’t a big eater and really didn’t mind what meals I cooked. His sisters told me of his love of egusi and pounded yam…and lots of it. My husband ran around after me like I was an egg that could break at any moment. His sisters told me he did the same with them. My husband was more patient with me than I thought humanly possible. They laughed.
As I got to know my sisters-in-love, there were some character traits in George that I realised needed to be addressed. I raised them with him and with our mentor and he was humble enough to work on them over time. How did I know that he had changed? His sisters testified of it. When I look at George’s sisters, I see aspects of myself in each one of them. He often jokes that his living with them all these years was good preparation for handling me. I believe it and I am reaping the fruits of it.
Nobody knows him better than me. That will be true in time, but for now whilst you’re in courtship and even the early stages of marriage, don’t let pride stop you from learning. Our mentor and pastor gave us each some home truths about the other person. Our families piped up when they saw us inadvertently misleading each other in the name of romance. My sister refused to be intimidated by my swift, sharp ‘shut up you’re embarrassing me’ looks. The bible says that what is done in the dark will eventually come to light. Wouldn’t you rather that these things came up before you made a lifelong vow?
Prov 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.