Running shoes and other lessons about marriage


“What one advice about marriage did you receive that you think has worked for you?”

I asked my husband the other day. Actually, I had to pry a response from him, before he eventually gave me a direct answer:

“To play a fool; a very wise man cautioned me. He told me that there’s no winning an argument with your wife.” He winked at me, as if this made any sense.

“Then when do you argue with me?” I asked. Clearly, he was not following that advice. I cannot recall a moment that he had agreed with everything I said.

There is a lot of stuff about the marriage union that no one tells you before marriage. It is like a conspiracy of silence amongst those already in marriage. They watch you say the ‘I do’ bit and secretly smile, whispering amongst themselves;

“Poor sods, if only they knew about the lessons that await them!”

Some lessons are easy. Like, if I knew earlier on what I know now, I would not have lost sleep over an argument about why he can never put his dirty clothes into the laundry basket, but instead dumps them outside the bathroom door! Now, I figure, it is part of my daily keep fit routine to collect the clothes and put them into the basket.

There are harder lessons, like the young lady who told me;

“My marriage would have survived if we had known that love alone was not enough. We just didn’t realise that marriage goes through seasons.”

I inadvertently picked a key advice about marriage when I was twelve that seems to work to date. My newly married cousin, who then was only 22, had taken off from her husband after an argument. Her husband and his brother had come to our home, where she had taken refuge, seeking reconciliation.


My aunt, the mediator of the couple had tasked me with serving the guests. Curious and snoopy, I hovered around the group, serving water here, collecting an empty plate there, and generally being superficially useful.

No one noticed my presence as the discussion opened up and heightened with the couple disclosing all their marital issues.

Sadly though, after all that effort, I cannot recall much about the issues raised. But I have never forgotten my aunt smiling, as if there was nothing amiss and then turning to the young couple;

“Joy, if you keep taking off at the first sign of trouble, you had better buy yourself a pair of running shoes. Arguments are normal in a marriage, and there will be plenty of them.” Joy looked disappointed, and worried. My aunt then turned to the young man;

“Martin, you are now the head of your home. You cannot sort issues with your wife by running to make a report to your mother. Neither can you run to the bar with your friends.”

Years later, during my wedding ceremony, the same aunt told me;

“Don’t be quick to run away when the bad times come. If he has not beaten you, and is not promiscuous, find a way to deal with your differences. You must only leave him if you are 100 per cent sure that you will never go back to him.”

During those low moments in our marriage when I have considered packing up and running to my grandmother’s lap for some pampering, I remember my aunt’s advice.

Grudgingly, we end up packing hubby and our issues (the children) for a weekend getaway in the village. Nothing works better than a change of environment to detox from the pressures of the city and discuss the contents of the can of worms that must be opened. It is more exciting anyway and way cheaper than the alternative.