What you need to know:
- Being authentic removes most barriers to a couple’s desire to connect.
- We cannot control the behaviour of others, but we can choose how to respond to it.
The goal of this column has been to create a dialogue that will lead to better choices that we make in relationships. Such choices should be governed by integrity, good communication that leads to honest disclosure of both current and past joys and hurts, and a deep commitment to relate authentically.
Connections that embrace such values are bound to succeed and enjoy success and fruitfulness in the future. My hope for today’s dater is that they realise life is not a rehearsal. Each day we are alive leaves us one day older and there is nothing we can do to change that. Therefore, our choices matter.
For example, the question to date and marry someone — whether younger or older than you has featured a lot in this column. As a result, age difference between spouses is key but not necessarily a determinant on whether two people will have a successful marriage.
When it comes to a life partner, my belief is that everything must boil down to the onus we place on the choices we make. We all have heard of this age-old saying that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Therefore, in relationships, while age matters for some, it does not matter for others depending on their perspective.
What may appear pleasing and delightful to one person may not necessarily be appealing to the other person. What matters for those in a relationship is the agreement reached by both partners on the core values that they consider to be none negotiable or they will not tolerate.
When we realise that choices have consequences, it becomes necessary to ask whether you are able to handle such consequences when they come. In reality, consequences include an opposing view your partner may hold from yours, a conflict in either partner’s habits family, behaviours or traits that irritate from time to time, or the place family or friends take in your partner’s life and negative career habits that could threaten a marriage. If you are unable to defend our choices in such circumstances, no one else is better placed to do it on our behalf.
We have to remember that choices on when to date and who to date can sometimes be clouded by personal desires that are temporal. For example, while sex is important in marriage, it is farcical to peg the fulfilment and success in your marriage on temporal alone. A wholesome view of marriage becomes imperative. You need to rise above such temporal desires and focus our energies on building our relationships on things that will create a lasting bond even when sickness or an accident causes immobility and robes the marriage of the enjoyment we intended.
It is therefore critical to state that, most relationships end up dying as soon as they start while others die along the way dependent on the choices one or both spouses make concerning the relationship. Many spouses and counsellors I have talked to believe that choices are basically the result of several factors seem to that guide the choices partners make. These choices may include choosing to:
It is said that not everything that glitters is gold. Authenticity is key to the health or any relationship. Since building intimacy requires taking risks and being vulnerable with your thoughts and feelings, honesty and openness are essential. Each spouse should therefore, take time to be honest about what really drives what they do.
If our senses are most allured by what we see, they guarding our thoughts, hearts, language and lifestyle is key. In today’s world, we see a nice dress, shirt, car, or house, we crave after it. Similarly, when we look at a beautiful lady or handsome man, we pursue them regardless of their mannerisms or lifestyle. When we are driven this way, we take short cuts whose main aim is to manipulate and even lie to get what we want.
Being authentic removes most barriers to a couple’s desire to connect. When we manage our desires, then we are better placed to make sober choices. Somehow, when we continue to make bad choices, every other sense we have is muted by this intense selfish drive. The right way however is to desire wisdom, self-control and understanding that will help us subject what we see to reflection and logical thought.
When we get a true sense of self and recognise what is authentic, then our actions will be directed. The end product should be that our actions and behaviours become consistent with our deeply held values. It isn’t always easy but is doable and manageable. Although it’s difficult to be genuine all the time and to reveal everything that is going on in every situation, building the authenticity or culture of your marriage must remain the goals of both partners.
Unhealthy compromise has become the name of the game in relationships. No is no longer tolerated in some relationships. When we do, it is seen as a sign of weakness. However, building a culture of saying No within the relationship, may complicate things, but will lead to the need to create boundaries and limits.
Although some spouses may not like to be told the word “No,” saying it fittingly enables us protect our authentic self from abuse. When used timely and consistently, it will put us back in charge of the direction we want to chart for our marriage. Although your partner may feel discomforted by your position, keep working at building a dependable self-image.
A lot is at stake where we do not take a stand on issues that will compromise us negatively. There is a pain that emanates from our refusal to stand for what is right or for the values we know to be right. For example, choosing to go along with your partner’s requests or demands may turns you into an item they use whenever they want. This is not good for the relationship. Standing for what you believe in and knowing what is right is one way of getting back your control, your voice, and direction in the relationship.
Toy T Bennett in an online article says that we cannot control the behaviour of other people, but we have the power to always choose how we respond to it. Our reaction determines our choices. He adds, choices are the hinges that connect us to our destiny.
When we make the choice to get into a relationship, act in a certain way, or take a particular stand on an issue could change forever how we relate. Proper use of our power of choice has a way of bringing back control to us. The idea is to get back into the driver’s seat and direct your relationship. Our choice will determine our future.
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