By Eric Curtis Howard
e-mail : neyandoh.gmail.com

Hello Yaovi, it seems kinda strange to me… to write you this letter. The fact is I don’t remember the last time I ever wrote a letter to anyone. The last time I ever wrote a letter was way back in 2001 at Mfantsipim School, where letter writing was the order of the day. Today there are emails, whatsapp messaging platform, instagram, facebook and the likes, where within a click of a button, I can send my thoughts across to you and get a response within a matter of minutes.

But Yaovi, I feel the urge to write to you; to catch up on old times and to bring to your attention, some pending issues that we must all work towards addressing in the near future. Forgive me, if I am a little rusty today as I pen this message.

I have a bible study group and yesterday we had a heated debate and the question was simple and targeted at all those who were married. “Why did you marry and how do you manage conflicts in your marriage?.” Yaovi when it comes to the issue of marriage, I consider myself a toddler and yet to learn the dynamics of this very wonderful institution so I profess not to talk and wait for those who are more matured and experienced than I am to make their point so I can learn from them, because there are people in that study group who have varied experiences ranging from 25 to 39 years in marriage. So you see why I say I am a toddler. But as a young man who perhaps have been fortunate to join the “table of men”, I felt my opinion no matter how small or irrelevant, was needed.

Yaovi, this is how I see marriage. I liken to marriage to the birth of a child. The first five years are the most defining point in any child’s life. The child must be brought up with utmost care, sent to the hospital regularly to ensure proper health care and the child needs the full attention of both parents to grow up in love, wisdom and to imbibe in him, the accepted societal norms to enable him grow up as a complete adult. It is at this stage that the child learns how to read and write in school, how to walk, talk, run and integrate in society. The first years of any child’s life is critical and so is the first five years of any marriage. The make or break of any marriage in my opinion has its root in the foundation that was laid before, or and within the first five years. Now consider the birth of a child, were the two consenting adults ready or was it the fleeting pleasures of the flesh that resulted in the pregnancy? This question can also be applied to the institution of marriage. Are the two people involved ready or were they simply moving with the tides of the time.

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young people at a yearly Christian youth festival “Youtherfest” organized by my dear Dan Asare. After reading a series of books on the subject of dating and courtship for young adults, I came out with four key areas one must look out for before deciding to get married.

SPIRITUAL MATURITY. Are you prepared to deal with the spiritual implications of marriage? Marriage is God’s idea and the spiritual detractors out there to make sure that anything the good Lord put together, it must be put asunder. What is the measure of your prayer life? How often do you pray for your partner? The fact that divorce is so rampant in our society does not mean the significance of marriage has been lost. Marriage I believe is a life long journey and must not be treated with disdain. Nowadays what do we see…married couples get divorced at the slightest provocation. The marriage is not Hollywood cannot be compared to the married in real life. Ask anyone who has been married for more than 25 years and they will tell you never to underrate the spiritual implications. What is your and your partner relationship with God? So the question is “Are you spiritually ready?”

EMOTIONAL MATURITY. Marriage indeed is not for children. That is why it has been said and will forever be said in any tribe and religion that a “Man” not a “boy” will leave his father’s house…what makes a man. It is his ability to make matured decisions that sets him apart from others. Marriage will demand most of all things, your emotions. Are you ready to forgive your partner when he or she offends you? Emotional maturity in marriage is key.

MENTAL MATURITY. What’s your mindset of entering the marriage? Is it for companionship, sex, money? What is your motive for getting married and how sustainable will that motive be in the face of challenges? Is your motive to walk out at the least or repeated provocation or to stay in, no matter the challenges. Yaovi, please think about this

FINANCIAL MATURITY. I happen to attend a youth seminar when as a very young man I was preparing to get married. I remember vividly what one of the speakers said “I love you does not buy pure water.” Of course we all laughed over that statement. But upon a deeper reflection, I though hard and fast about this truth and I asked myself, “Do I have the means to create a home for my future wife and children?” What is my current financial position now? Is it true that money does not buy love, but it is also very true that you should not venture into any project without first weighing the consequences of your action? This is not spiritual, it is common sense. Can you even take care of yourself, left alone someone. According to the institute of divorce financial analyst in the United States of America, after sampling more than 2 million marriages in the United States, they concluded, that money, incompatibility and infidelity were the three major causes of divorce in the United States. Yaovi, money has such a huge role to play in marriage, please make sure you have enough saved somewhere before venturing into marriage.

These four points are not conclusive but I believe they are the starting point of any marriage.

So after the first five years, when a child knows how to walk, talk and integrate in society, then starts the 15 years of schooling of the child’s life, through primary, JHS and SHS before entering the university. And throughout each stage of the child’s educational life, there would be series of tests that the child needs to pass to move on the next class, failure to do so, of which the child will be repeated. So after successfully completing the first five years of marriage, now the real test of love, compatibility, commitment, patience, emotional maturity and spirituality begins. This is where the foundation that was laid in the first five years will be thoroughly tested through physical circumstances, spiritual circumstances and the ever changing human and psychological behavior.

To be continued…..