Reality checks for a healthy marriage

The partners in a growing relationship should take it upon themselves to accept responsibility for its future.  PHOTO/

What you need to know:

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 was madly in love and had high hopes, 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.” 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:

Short-term 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

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.

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

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 on 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. Putting in place clear life goals helps create opportunities and a roadmap for the relationship.

When you are 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.

Creating 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 be achieved with proper investment. Two people who dream and envision together create resources that unite them.  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.

The writer is a senior pastor and relationship expert

Adapted from the Daily Nation