What is the right age to get married? How do you know he or she is the one? What habits can you establish in the early phase of your marriage to ensure that the foundation remains rock solid? This festive season as we look back reflectively on 2016, we spoke to four young married women who share with us their journey to the altar, what they are doing to cultivate a successful marriage and what advice they'd give others who intend to get married in the coming year.
Marion & Mwangi
Age: Marion 27, and T 29
Careers: Marion: Senior Manager, Youth Segment (BLAZE) Safaricom, Mwangi 'T' Muthui: Head of Department, Youth Ministry – Nairobi Baptist Church
Married for 4 years
Marion and T first met when they were young teenagers. "We met back in high school, when I was 12 and he was 13. Back then he was so shy he barely spoke a word to me, though at the time I thought he was cute. Years later we met again at a mutual friend's birthday party and after meeting a couple more times after that, we started dating," says Marion. She also expresses her excitement that she and T recently celebrated their 4th anniversary. "I know there are people who've done over 50 years of marriage, but right now, I'm just excited to see our married years piling up!"
It only took them three years of dating before they realized that they wanted to get married. "After a period of dating your level of closeness and intimacy advances, yet because of our faith there were values we wanted to maintain as a couple. Besides those important reasons, there was no real reason for us to wait any longer; we were both earning enough to survive, we were both of age and we loved each other and wanted to be together for the rest of our lives."
Even though they were old enough to make a life-long commitment, their parents were initially unsure that they were making the right decision. "We were told we were too young and that we didn't know what marriage was about. For the one year that we were engaged we spent time trying to convince our families that we knew what we were doing," she shares. Eventually both sides of the family got on board and supported them while they planned their wedding.
After four years, Marion and T are keen to start family traditions of their own, traditions that they didn't necessarily grow up with. "When I was growing up money was never a topic that was up for discussion. T and I would like to be more deliberate about that with our children in the future. For example we'd like to share with them what our budget is for the holidays so that planning is done together and with clear expectations. One of the things we do now is we take an annual trip to strategically plan for the year; we think through our careers, family, finances, school, God, church, the full nine yards. It's definitely not as exciting as lying on the beach sipping lemonade but we feel it's necessary and helps us to focus on what really matters. We've also maintained date nights once a week, just the two of us."
For those who intend to get married in the coming year Marion, who believes that marriage is truly a gift from God, encourages them to marry even if they are considered young by others. "If you meet the right person and you share the same values and principles, if they're mature and can understand what marriage is, then marry. Marry young if you can while you're still willing to be molded to learn and grow."
Tasha and Haig
Age: She in her 20s, he in his early 30s
Careers: Tasha is a student, Haig is a photographer
Married for 5 years
She describes her husband as being intelligent, well read, handsome and easy to get along with. She describes herself as a joker, an introvert and someone who has awkward social interactions. While in high school she was the one who made the first move. "It wasn't that I wanted to flirt with him, but I would say hello once in a while. Back then I was on a student budget so I would flash him on his phone and he would always call back, we'd talk for so long, we hardly ever noticed that we'd been talking for an hour," says Tasha. Years later after high school they met over coffee and what started off as two friends having great conversation gradually became romantic. "To this day we are still best of friends."
Haig and Tasha dated for four years, and have been married for five. Their parents weren't surprised when they spoke of getting married despite being in their twenties. "I think they saw it coming as we had introduced each other to family members and they saw our relationship progress over the years. We thank God for our families that where very supportive and prayed for us throughout the whole journey and even to this day."
So far, Tasha has found contentment in her young marriage and says that she and her husband have grown closer to each other. "We have accepted each other for who we are with all our flaws. Someone once told me, the point where you stop trying to change each other is the point where one begins to enjoy marriage. Now we can almost finish each other's sentences and we even know how the other will react in different situations." She also highlights the importance of communication in marriage at all times. "Do not sweep things under the rug but work on them as they happen."
Tasha does not take credit for the success of her marriage and she gives God first place in her life as well as in her marriage. "I have found that when I have lost focus in my personal walk with God, I start demanding too much from my husband, and then I remember that at the end of the day only God can be my everything. I constantly pray that God may reveal to me how to love my husband as he would like to be loved, not how I would assume he does. We all have different languages of love and I try to appeal to his, always keeping his needs first. I also respect him as the head of the home and strive to show him that I do."
For those planning to say 'I do' in the coming year Tasha is careful to remind couples that no marriage is the same and each couple should strive to build theirs on their own terms adding that marriage is beautiful when it is done in Christ.