Guest ColumnistRelationship

Marriage: The “Red flags” to Avoid, By Michael West

Michael West

Predictably, penultimate Friday’s topic, “Marriage: Signs as Navigators,” reflected the situation a number of people can relate with. Most of the responses to the article did not only corroborate the narrative but also validated it with their diverse experiences. Apart from a woman who said “I left the marriage before I regained my glory,” several other experiences harped on the severity of the consequence of marrying spouses whose negative spiritual aura would eclipse their potentiality and virtues.

There is palpable fear by parents about the lackadaisical attitude of their children towards the spiritual dimension of their lives. Parents always pray against a situation where their wards would end up with partners bewitched with the aura of failure, stagnation, barrenness, penury or calamity. The hysteric concern is because young adults these days hardly carry their parents along in their private affairs. They are more swayed by the fantasy of emotional attachment and romantic ecstasy than the reality of a future family life which affection alone can not sustain. Many of the young adults trust their own judgments more than the wisdom of the elders and cultural norms.

I had a meeting with a woman who said she was at the verge of filing for divorce but decided to seek further counsel to know if her decision was the best in view of her circumstance. Seeing the simple and soft-spoken woman whose mien concealed every trait of a troubled soul, she said, “Since I have been reading your articles, last week’s edition applied to me. You were so accurate about what I’m passing through. After reading the piece, I decided to seek your counsel before I take steps on my decision – divorce.”

She narrated how she married based on two grounds of sympathy and desperation. “I married in my late 30s. For this reason, I was ready for any man that showed seriousness and commitment to the relationship. To be honest with you, sir, my husband is not the kind of my desired man but the category of men I truly wished to marry were not ready to settle down. And the time was no longer on my side, I had to settle for my husband reluctantly to avoid entering into menopause as a single woman.

“Besides, what further urged me into marrying him was that I had compassion on him when he narrated his story to me. He’s an orphan. No helper, no money but he’s a disciplined and committed lover; that’s why I encouraged myself into the relationship with him. It took some time to cultivate affection for him. If I must confess, things took a downward movement since we got married. My life has been characterized by business and job failure, helplessness and stagnation. I remember that I refused to pray about him before tying the nuts to avoid any discouraging message or information that could abort my plan to marry him,” she lamented.

Now she wants a separation after toiling over the years without success. According to her, she had been praying, making frantic efforts to survive by taking loans upon loans in her deft moves to breakeven at all cost but her sweats dried without commensurate reward. Apparently feeling tired, she was considering quitting at least to see if there would be an improvement in her life.

Some of the emails I received asked to know the “red flags” whenever one enters into a relationship. For counseling purposes, here are some of the signs to watch out for while entering into a new relationship:

  • Whenever you are the one showing more love, craving for attention and sacrificing more to keep the relationship without a commensurate response from your partner, you need to rethink and reassess the situation before going further.
  • Whenever you enter into a relationship and you start to experience slowness, disappointments, delay and losses, the situation calls for a pulse, reassessment, prayer and possibly, a break from the affair to actually know if the development has anything to do with the relationship. I want to submit that there are cases where this kind of situation has absolutely nothing to do with the relationship or the partner. Through prayers and counseling you will be rightly guided.
  • If it is becoming unjustifiably difficult or taking unnecessarily too long a time for your partner to respond to your proposal and perhaps you notice reluctance in his/her attitude to the relationship, please quit. I want to state that it is not every disappointment that is the handiwork of the enemy. Sometimes God may want to prevent you from future regret and marital doom ahead. Therefore, when you notice these unwelcoming signs, don’t push further except if you have deep conviction beyond every shred of doubt in your heart.
  • If you are not wholly convinced about your choice, please don’t go further. Quite a number couples are enmeshed in adulterous indulgences as a way to fill the void and cravings for ‘true love’ through ‘alternative’ affection. This is a simmering situation in many homes where there are no magnetic sparks of emotional fondness or desire. Such couples tolerate themselves and manage to function in a typical abrasive or ‘dry’ family life which lacks genuine affection from the onset. Such homes were built on sandy foundation of half-heartedness, reluctance and necessity rather than purpose, love and fulfillment.
  • While in courtship, if quarrel has become a recurring decimal in your relationship, it is advisable to go your separate ways. Short-tempered partners hardly change even in marriage. Some dating partners have been exchanging blows in hot expression of their differences. Where pugilistic tendencies are untamable, if such relationship is eventually consummated, it is a risky one. The increased spousal murder cases that are daily happening in our society are the products of troubled or quarrelsome relationships.
  • In a situation where nightmares or confusion dominate your dreams, please pulse and seek help before going further. Ignoring dreams could be costly. It is one of the common ways God reveal secrets to mankind.
  • If sympathy is the main reason you want to marry your partner, please don’t. From experience, sympathy will fade off when challenges billow against the home. In several cases, the empathized partners rarely appreciate the depth of sacrifice of their spouses who married them against all odds. To avoid regrets, please don’t marry on the basis of sympathy.
  • I will never support any marriage that is flatly denied parental approval. This is a key aspect of life. While I acknowledge that some parents could be selfish, imposing or not having genuine reason(s) for opposing the choices of their children, interventions that could facilitate understanding and consent should be worked at. There’s no alternative to parental blessing in marriage.

Lastly, I want to advise that it is risky to underestimate spiritual dimension of human life including marriage. It is not compulsory to seek spiritual guidance but it is usually wise to be guided. The Word says no one receives anything except it is ordained for him/her from above. So, pray and pray so well. Do have a fulfilling marital life. Amen!




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