We live in a world in which marriage does not make sense to some people. What such people do not realise is the extent to which many of those getting into marital relationships pretend just so that they can win over their partner. From the many people I have counselled and recent reading I have been doing, it never ceases to amaze me how many young people are interested in short-term relationships but have lost faith in marriage.
The questions remains: Is marriage necessary? If so, is it worth dying for or giving your whole self to?
The truth is that we are all imperfect people who need a perfect God to help us determine what we do, including how to relate to those who are very different from us. Adopting a new perspective, which is free of selfishness, takes one away from the typical behaviour that seems to plague many relationships.
Getting what most people refer to as the “right person” to be in a relationship with is as important as being the “right person” for your partner. Marriage is about two individuals with strengths, weaknesses and faults making a conscious choice to relate to each other and who, according to their judgement, might not measure up.
At the age of 23, Jane (not her real name), was madly in love and had high hopes in their relationship, expecting her man to be faultless. What she forgot was that there is nothing like a perfect man or woman. The reality is that when you choose to be in a relationship with someone, you get the full package, including their history, friendships, attitudes, background, and character.
Every individual who wishes to be in a relationship should be ready for “an exciting adventure” and “lasting life change.” There is nothing less when it comes to relationships. Relationships can challenge us and help us rethink and realign our worldview. The reality is that getting into a relationship opens for us a life-changing journey of disclosure, discovery and decision-making as we distinguish between what aligns with our core beliefs and what does not. When we do this, we give ourselves an opportunity to learn and grow in the relationship.
The outcome continues to manifest itself in many feelings not fulfilled by the promise of marriage. The selfishness, separation, divorce and abuse experienced in families continues to leave behind not only wounded spouses, but also disoriented children. If one partner feels such betrayal and abandonment, how much more do you think the children go through?
We think we are the only ones doing it right and refuse to change, so we start making demands that only aggravate the situation. We end up being filled with pride and a critical spirit. Why should we allow our selfishness to wound and break so many hearts? As much as we know that nothing good comes without a price, we should also be aware of the fact that pretence by one or both partners leaves one party in many relationships broken-hearted and disappointed.
Here are some pointers to look for when navigating your relationship:
FOCUSING ON SHORT-TERM BENEFITS
A person who gets into a relationship for temporary satisfaction is soon discovered when all they do is to make demands but do very little to help fix what might be wrong with the relationship. Others go the route of manipulating their partner for personal gain. In such a relationship, a couple tries to deal with conflict out of fear of missing out on the benefits.
When a relationship is based on a selfish agenda, it drains the relationship of its energy and creativity. The partners in a growing relationship should take it upon themselves to accept responsibility for its future. Looking at the problems we face in a relationship with a long-term focus offers us growth and makes us look positively at the future of the relationship. As much as problems damage a relationship, they can turn out to be the growth opportunities if we stop resolving them with a short-term agenda in mind.
REIGNITING WHAT CONNECTS YOU
A full tank of petrol cannot last forever in a car that is moving, and neither can a new car remain in perfect condition if it is not serviced regularly. Similarly, every relationship needs moments of unlearning, gaining new knowledge, refreshment, re-dedication and renewal. A lot is taken for granted when it comes to relationships.
It is notable that many people believe that they need new knowledge and skills to advance in their career but do not dedicate the same energy to a relationship.
I suggest that this year you put some effort into making yourself qualified for the relationship you seek, or might already be in. Taking things for granted causes the parties in many relationships to lose hope.
A great deal happens over the years that erodes and drains the relationship, leading to burn-out. When we choose to dwell on negativity, the end will be little strokes that end up killing any good that existed in the relationship
We must create, not demand, the future that we want. Reigniting what once sparked love requires investment, and at times even painful sacrifice.
Stopping the erosion before degradation
What we value, we treasure. The value we place on a growing relationship is reflected in the type of investment we make in it. This calls for patience. The complexities we face today can complicate our lives, thereby affecting how we relate. Demanding work schedules and long-distance relationships that arise from one partner working away from their stations for long periods are among the issues that complicate life for many people today. The way they affect relationships at all levels is evident in the many stressed relationships.
The issue is how each person manages the choices before them. What motivates the way we make our choices? The reality is that, distance (whether because of work or in communication) creates a degree of separation between a couple. Couples must endeavour to make informed decisions that are based of the realities they face and the impact these could have on their relationship.
HAVING CLEAR LIFE GOALS
It is said that failing to plan is planning to fail. While reading a book, Living Forward, by American author Seth Godin, I was struck by a question he asks.
First, he sets the stage by creating a scenario asking you to imagine that you are dead and attending your own funeral, alongside all the people who knew you personally and by proxy.
He then goes on to ask what you would want your partner, close friend, workmate, children and parents to say at your funeral – truthfully speaking.
He says that if what the speakers say differs from what you know to be true, then you should make it your goal to live differently if you would like to change that narrative. The question is whether we take time to prepare for life in this manner. Because relationships face stress, fatigue and burn-out, avoiding an overload is the only way to keep it running smoothly. Putting in place clear life goals helps create opportunities and a roadmap for the relationship.
When you’re in a relationship, stress causes you to regress, so you retreat to hibernate in your comfort zone to keep the stress at bay. But this is just a temporary refuge. Calling time out regularly as a couple to analyse your hurts, evaluate the causes, seek healing and chart the course ahead is something you should do regularly. Creating deeper and lasting intimacy is a long-term process that requires planning and scheduling.
PUTTING SENSE INTO WHAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE
Many people in relationships complain about a host of issues that do not make sense. However, a happy relationship is not just a dream but a reality that can achieved with proper investment. We were not made to be happy machines that have no feelings about issues that affect us. But sense can only come into a relationship in which those involved are determined to reason together.
Two people who dream and envision together create resources that unite them in the areas where they connect the most. A person’s core emotions and longings are brought to light when we discuss their confusion with the aim of making sense of what seems to be clouding their judgement.
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