Have you ever wondered why there are highway codes and traffic rules to be obeyed by anyone who wants to drive a car? It is to prevent chaos on the roads, keep the driver safe and keep other drivers and pedestrians safe. Imagine for a second, anyone and everyone can drive on any side of the road they choose. If it seems good to them, they can just take to the roads and start driving. Have you formed a mental picture of what the road would look like? This is exactly the state of many families, marriages and societies where there are no laws or laws are not upheld, people cast off restraints.
There are no written rules, or codes written specifically on how to do marriage, husband and wife are to determine how they would like to manage their marriage. There are two main laws of marriage in the bible, but these laws must be interpreted by each person in a marriage. The first is, husbands love your wives and the second, wives submit to your husbands. Marriage is a relationship and therefore it seems difficult to have set rules or codes. But given the state of many marriages and stories from many couples, intervention is required to help set marriages on a happy course again. In as much as we cannot determine how each person will behave in a marriage, we can help marriages by learning the skills required for relationship building. We can put in place codes and laws that successful couples have found useful.
Even though we are different and have different personalities, with guidance in place, many people have been able to work together, especially when there are rules and regulations. The social media groups, for example, have shown us that rules and regulation can help us live together in harmony even though we have differences. In social media groups where there are no rules, people say hurtful things, abuses and often tear down whoever asks for their opinion. Whereas in other groups where ground rules were set and controlled, people seem to abide and treat each other with respect, they comment respectfully and build up instead of the opposite. These show that rules and regulations are needed to control human relationships. Unfortunately, marriage has not been seen to require these types of rules and regulations. However, many successful marriages today, especially most that were previously on the path to divorce but decided to work on their marriage, stated that they followed a set of rules and regulation in their marriage.
In marriages where couples have failed to set up rules and codes and obey them, it has been chaotic and unhappy. It is therefore important to have marriage highway codes and follow them in your marriage to avoid accidents and failures. We cannot continue to leave the success of a marriage in the hands of a woman. “A wise woman builds her home” is the big club that has been laid on the back of many women whose marriage may be struggling. What about having a wise man builds his home? Imagine driving your car on the road, as a driver who obeys rules and regulation while other drivers can drive as they like without obeying the rules, I doubt you will be able to drive successfully and safely on the road. It is therefore important that we move from seeing marital success dependence on being a wise woman alone.
Many factors in a marriage make it work and most times, women want their marriage to work but they cannot build alone. Therefore, a man must also desire to work for his marriage, be willing to follow rules and regulations. The society must encourage both men and women to develop and have rules and regulations in their marriage. There are many resources out there now which have been proven and tested by couples and who is in the best position to teach, if not those who have experienced it.
There are many books written which I encourage couples to read together, look at what may be the cause of troubles in your marriage. Then work together and come up with your marital highway codes and laws. I read a book called The Highway Code for Marriage by Michael and Hillary Perrott. They wrote this book because their marriage was full of arguments and misunderstandings in the beginning, rather than pack up the marriage, they were determined to make it work and came up with the marriage highway codes just like the driver’s highway code. The result is their marriage was revived and now they have counselled other couples using the same principles. They concluded that good marriages do not just happen, it requires following rules and regulations, being disciplined and learning how to do marriage.
I and my husband have been married for a while and I have experienced amazing times and not so good times in the last 17 years we have been married. I have realised that the periods we were most happy in our marriage were times when we loved and respected one another and the times when we had challenges were periods when we threw caution to the wind. Using the Perrott’s Highway code, our challenging times were when we decided not to be careful in our marriage. When we decided there are no ABCs or 123s of doing marriage. According to the highway codes, there are seven letters in the word CAREFUL which are vital for the success of any marriage.
Communication is key to having a loving relationship. The moment any couple decides to relegate communication to anyhow, their marriage will suffer. Communication is both an art and a skill and must be present as a rule in any marriage. Couples please have a highway code on how you communicate in your marriage and respect it. For example, one of the myths and mistake some married couples make is the feeling that “if my spouse loved me, he or she would understand me”. Understanding comes from continuous communication and the ability of each spouse to express themselves effectively. Most couples in a difficult marriage are not communicating, there you will find silent treatment, stonewalling, and lack of transparency. Secrecy in marriage is lack of communication, how then do you expect your spouse to understand you? Communication brings light to your marriage. if your marriage is in a dark place right now, choose to communicate, it will not be easy but see it as a highway code you must adhere to. No matter how much we are in a hurry while driving, we are careful not to move when the traffic light is red. To do so means risking your life and that of others.
Our experiences in life directly affects what level of affection we can give and how we receive affection. Affection a feeling of liking and caring for someone and tender attachment. Marriage is for affection and couples have come together in a marriage because they like and care for each other. Therefore, it must be a vital ingredient in a marriage. Where affection and love are smothered, there you will find the opposite, cold and strife. You must be deliberate about showing affection to your spouse. Men and women want affection and if for any reason you are not so good at showing affection, you must learn how to. For example, I had to learn how to drive on the right side of the road when I relocated to England. Even though I had learnt how to drive on the left side of the road for years and grew up knowing driving on the left in Nigeria, I did not insist on driving on the left in England. To do so will be putting my life and that of others in danger. I took driving lessons for months, did the theory and practical test with instructors. It was not free, I had to make time for it and paid the instructor, it was not cheap. I passed my driving test after two attempts; I know a few friends who eventually passed after 10 attempts. We can do the same in our marriages, without showing affection your marriage will lack oil of joy and happiness.
Brings dignity to your marriage. Lack of respect has been a major cause of problems in marriages and the misunderstanding of what respect is. The world’s view and cultural connotation of who gives respect and who needs respect have exacerbated it. Respect is dignity, respect is admiration and respect are reciprocal. When we abide by the laws of the land, we often say respect yourself and respect the law. If we can see the need to respect laws and rules in everyday aspects of life, why do we think we can choose to disrespect our spouse and get away with it? Men and women in a marriage must respect themselves and respect each other. Now the issue most people probably are facing is knowing what respect is and how to give it. That is why as a husband or wife, you must find out what respect means, you can also let your spouse know how you want to be respected. For some men, respect means kneeling and worship, for another that might not mean he is respected at all. It may just be gentle, getting up to welcome him with a hug when he returns home. That is why what works for couple A may not necessarily work for couple B. The bottom line though is the same, men and women want and need respect. Now is the time to sit down with your spouse and establish your respect highway codes and abide by it.
We have looked at the first three letters in the word CAREFUL this week. We will be discussing the remaining four letters as it related to the success of your marriage. Don’t miss it!!!
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Abi Apalara loves sharing insightful information that helps couples flourish in life and their marriage relationship. I have enjoyed both good marital pleasures and challenging times in my marriage. I came to realise, the points where I missed it, were areas I lacked information on how to.
Making it up along the way, only meant I was going the wrong way. Desperately seeking to get back into marital bliss, I started exploring and reading about those areas of challenge. I also reached out to counsellors and began to see what I was missing.
After a surprising move into relationship study, I have found peace of mind and happy with my marriage. I have authored the book Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus realty to share my experience and encourage men and women to work on their
marriages, by seeking knowledge and apply it to their marriage relationship.
My latest book, Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus reality focuses on discovering some of the unrealistic expectations we bring into a marriage. It comes with practical advice and a guide on how to get it right before and after getting married.