I proposed to my wife when I didn't have a job. After my National Youth Service, I was clear about who I was to going to marry. I knew exactly the kind of woman I wanted and the qualities that I needed. When I got a job, I knew where and how to channel my money.
But before this time, I started preparing for marriage at an early age. I wrote out the qualities I was looking for. I kept this list secret and kept praying while searching.
You do not need to have money before you start setting goals for your marriage. Prior planning will help you to prepare well. If you do not plan well, you'll always spend your time and money on trivial things.
It is better to be prepared and not have an opportunity than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. For me, I was prepared and when the opportunity came, I filed in immediately.
A lot of people don't know themselves well enough before going into a relationship. Because of this, they keep reaping the wild wind.
You cannot get what you want when you haven't known who you are. Getting to know who you are will facilitate you in getting to know your true partner.
Before looking for any partner examine your strengths, weaknesses and beliefs.
Your beliefs are the centre of your whole existence. Our beliefs tell us what to wear, how to act and react, what is right, where to go etc. It is the bedrock of every action we take, that is why we don't have to take it lightly.
Your strength is what will always be your selling point in your relationship. This comprises the qualities that your partner might find attractive.
Your weaknesses are your shortcomings that you need to constantly work on else it might shut off a potential spouse.
THE PLACE OF RELIGION.
While in the University, I shut down marriage thoughts to a close friend because of our belief system. Coming from a home where a different belief system was initially a problem, I knew better.
I have heard many people say it doesn't matter. My dear, it matters a lot. A big part of our belief system stems from our religion.
If a Christian marries a Muslim, there will be a crisis. One believes in one man; one wife, the other believes in one man; more than one wife. As little as this philosophy is, it can destroy a whole marriage if you inter-marry.
Let me bring it close, even in Christendom, marrying a partner whose doctrine is different from yours is a great risk. "Can two walk together except they agree?" No!
It is overlooked but the consequences of marrying a partner with a different doctrine will affect both you and your children. It will bring confusion. The family altar for instance, that is supposed to be a place of consecration will become a place for disagreement and resentment.
Your kids will pick up this confusion and start playing family politics. Some will take sides with mum, while some will take sides with dad.
A man who doesn't believe in women wearing trousers, painting, wearing earrings can't endure a woman who can't do without all those things. While the man tries his best to change her, she will be feeling like she's in a cage. So much friction will be in such a marriage.
You said I'll change her, I'll change him... Get next to yourself. Change takes time. Sometimes a lifetime, most times it never happens.
Ahab was a good man until he married Jezebel. Jezebel led him astray. Ahab Forsook his God and followed Jezebel to worship her gods. That brought iniquity into Israel. Think about these things before making any choice. You are a believer, marry a believer. It's a crazy thing to convert an unbeliever so that you can get married to him or her. Down the road, there are consequences. The bad influence most times will have an upper hand.
I do not doubt that there's always a place for compromise. If you choose to love each other regardless of your beliefs, then be ready to face the consequences of each other's actions based on beliefs.
Religious beliefs are the hardest to crack. By now you should have gotten a clear picture of where you should look for a wife or where you should expect a husband.
THE PLACE OF CULTURE.
Did you know that there are some places you marry, you won't have your freedom? Their laws will be so harsh for you but your spouse might be comfortable with them because he or she comes from that place.
Culture is very important when choosing a life partner. Some cultures have very sharp contrast. This is where you have to choose to either go elsewhere or you both work hard to align your differences.
THE PLACE OF LOVE LANGUAGE
Most people just follow the wind. They don't know their most important love language. Remember, this man or woman is going to live with you throughout your life.
So, knowing your love language at an early stage will help you to detect those who will give you love in a language you can feel it.
Remember at this early stage, hoping for your partner to change shouldn't come to your mind. You are taking a snapshot of their personality now.
THE PLACE OF PRAYER.
You can be a fire-branded Christian and still marry wrongly. When you neglect the place of prayer or neglect to pay attention to the Still small voice, you harm yourself.
When Samuel saw Jesse's firstborn, he rushed to anoint him. God said, "No, don't look by sight". It is only God who can help you to look beyond your sight. One of the areas you have to be firm in your prayers is choosing the right partner.
God has many ways He speaks and directs people. Some through dreams, vision, the word, signs etc. You have to understand how God speaks to you to be able to know where He is directing you to.
That Mr A knew his partner through a dream doesn't mean God will show you your partner through a dream.
Your pastor is to guide you as a spiritual head. He is not to choose a partner for you. No matter how Spirit-filled he is, you must be convinced about your partner before taking a step.
THE PLACE OF ATTRACTION
I loved my wife at first sight but it took me years to be convinced because I wanted to be sure. I didn't want her beauty to confuse me. I was so scared... Lol!
I know we have heard so many sermons that attraction don't matter. But what's the essence of marrying a spouse you are not attracted to?
One of the most difficult tasks is marrying a spouse you're not attracted to and then later finding reasons to get attracted to them. You'll be in a prison in your marital home. It's important to marry a person you are both spiritually and physically attracted to.
WHAT QUALITIES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
While in the University, I wrote down the qualities I was looking for in a woman. This served as a guide. I reviewed this list until I got married.
Pick a piece of paper and write down 10 important things you are looking for in any man or woman.
From these ten, pick out the three most important features you can't do without in any man or woman.
These three most important qualities should be what you will always investigate thoroughly. That means any man or woman that doesn't have these three qualities will not be acceptable.
These qualities shouldn't be selected out of infatuation. Infatuation will blind you. Stay disciplined with these three. Do not combine this search with sex. You will not be able to stay disciplined to what you want when sex is involved.
The remaining seven should be the ones you can decide to compromise on. You will not get any human being that will be 100%. Between 50% to 70% is a good score.
You can decide to compromise on 4 of the remaining seven qualities you are in search of and then pick out three to make up 6 qualities. This becomes 60%.
As far as you are not married and you are still searching, every quality you choose is subject to review because you know better as you grow older, get enlightened or pass a certain phase in life.
THE PLACE OF BUDGETING.
We came out of our wedding without a single debt. So I know it is possible. Let nobody deceive you into believing that debt is unavoidable after a wedding. Careful planning, budgeting and cutting your coat according to your cloth will do you so much good.
During your preparation, your family members and in-laws will want to flaunt their egos. This is where you have to be very careful else you will spend on trivial things.
How to cut your coat according to your cloth is by budgeting with money you have in your hand. Not with the money you expect from people. Not also with the money people owe you.
What can the money you have saved up for the marriage do? How far that money can go is what you should spend. If you go beyond that, you will run into debt.
One way to know how much you'll spend is by listing and categorising all the items needed and their market prices. This list will guide you. Working with your head will either make you over budget or underestimate. You might cause wastage in some areas and cause shortage in another area. If you underestimate, you will run into debt.
Part II coming your way soon. Please stay tuned.