I was at the airport waiting to board when I saw the breaking news on CNN. Prince William had finally proposed to Kate Middleton.
For a chap who does not believe in the concept of royalty, I really should have spared the screen no more than a glance but the afternoon edition of The Star did not offer much competition and since I started off last week’s article with something on French royalty we might as well open this one in a similar manner, so there! This one is for the couples.
Think of the most successful couples you have ever heard of: Pierre and Marie Curie (non?), David and Victoria Beckham or whoever it may be and you will see disciplined tag team action. What makes couples successful?
Knowing what the other one wants
Couples were individuals with their own goals before they committed to each other in marriage.
This means that before they tie the knot, it is important that each one knows, understands and supports the dreams of the other.
Sometimes, one of the two will defer their dream to the benefit of the other’s for the sake of the family getting a start but that does not mean that their individual dream has died.
Supporting each other’s dream
Whether you have given up your dream, or you are living it while your spouse defers theirs, support is crucial through positive reinforcement, financial sacrifice or standing by your partner.
Look at David and Victoria Beckham.
She has followed him from Manchester United, to Real Madrid and now LA Galaxy. When she tried to revive her career by having a reunion tour with the Spice Girls, he was the devoted father who looked after the kids and attended the occasional concert.
Focusing on family goals
Then there is the dream that you own jointly.
A couple must sit down together and determine what it is they want out of life, what it implies and how they intend to achieve it.
It is not enough to have the wedding and then go back to work as usual after the honeymoon with no clear idea of which road you have chosen as a couple.
This is a very common error among young couples and one finds one partner or the other fleeing to the pub or relatives for advice.
Normally, this is the worst thing you can do.
A couple must be clear about what they both want for the family even when they are not sure how they are going to get it.
The key is asking: OK, what do we want for the next 10, 20 years and not to exclaim, after it is too late: “You never asked me what I wanted. It has all been about you!”
Fine-tuning the goals
After deciding what you want, it is then that you go and seek advice should you need it. First, you are clear about what you want, not what your aunt, father or friends want for you.
Thereafter, you go and consult the people who best represent the goals that you have chosen for yourselves as a couple.
You two come first, everyone else second. Ignore this advice to your detriment.
Like them or not, David and Victoria Beckham have just launched a new fragrance called Intimately Yours.
I guarantee it will sell because the two are an aspirational brand and they ruthlessly exploit it.
First there were two
Even though you are two individuals, in the marriage context, you started off as two people. Two became one.
This is an important point. Couples need to reconnect to reassess where they are in their journey as a unit.
This is not marriage counselling, by the way. I am strictly sticking to issues of knowing what you want and what I think is the best way to get there.
Occasionally go out of town, for a meal, or simply share a bath for heaven’s sake, if you cannot afford the first two, and talk about where you are in terms of your progress as a family vis-a-vis the goals you set in the beginning.
Since we started on a wedding theme with William and Kate’s engagement, let’s end with one.
I attended a wedding a long time ago and I remember the small plain white cards that were placed on every table with a simple message:
“Do not walk in front of me, I might not follow. Do not walk behind me, I might not lead. Instead, walk by my side and I will be with you.” Something to that effect anyway.
Many will disagree with me and that is your prerogative as long as you have made that choice: not your friends, family or tradition.
Even marriages need Innerzela. My wife and her sister used to exhibit at the St John’s Fair. I was pleasantly surprised and humbled to find a multi- millionaire there, a few years ago working at his wife’s stand.
She was selling artistic decor stuff and, there he was, helping out like it was a full-time job. They are a very successful couple.
David Beckham has not necessarily taken the best free kicks in the world (Zidane, Koeman, Stoichkov) and Victoria is not the most successful girl power musician either (Diana Ross and the Supremes, Beyonce and Destiny’s Child) but the two combined are very successful on their own terms regardless of how superficial you may think they are. It is their reality. What is yours?
Albert Gumbo writes in his personal capacity. Contact: