To live and let live is the key to thriving relationships

What you need to know:

  • Of course the fatted calf was slaughtered but before the dust from the party could settle down, my friend was on the phone saying she could not stand his presence anymore.

About two years ago, a friend’s husband had to be accommodated in a ‘gated community’ for reasons I cannot disclose. Oh how fervently my friend and I prayed for his release. And about a month ago, our prayers were answered. Of course the fatted calf was slaughtered but before the dust from the party could settle down, my friend was on the phone saying she could not stand his presence anymore.

See, before the special accommodation happened, the two had never lived together for a prolonged period because they both worked in different places. She had no way of knowing whether they would be compatible partners or not. Dating is one thing but actually having to spend day and night with this person has a way of wearing off the tint from those tinted glasses through which we view romantic partners at the beginning.

As my friend discovered, there were so many things she discovered she could not stand about the man she had prayed and fasted day and night for.  But I knew she was not the only one. A little research reveals that this inability to stand each other happens in the second stage of a marriage when poetry has ended and you are now communicating in prose. This stage is riddled with incessant conflicts, fights and regrets. There is also a feeling that the relationship was a mistake and some will hasten to end it. Many people enter relationships believing that they will always agree with their beloved without realising that nature decrees that opposites will attract. So, expecting a relationship without any ups and downs is like expecting a bird without feathers.

One philosopher observed that silence will be found in cemeteries and where a couple is always in agreement, then there is no need for one of them. So, how can you continue living with your partner with whom you have ‘irreconcilable’ differences?

One way, which saves a lot of strife, is understanding what motivates your partner and their expectations from the relationships.  If your partner is the silent type who prefers to spend their time locked in their own heads or reading a book, please let them be. If you have been together long enough, you should by now understand that your chatter about your day at the office is more of an irritant than it is entertaining. If you keep it up, they will find a way of being away from you to avoid the torture. If you cannot do without talking about your day, call a friend or family member. After all, that is what they are meant for.

I cannot stress the importance of learning each other’s love language. To borrow the overused cliché, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Do not be too lazy to learn your new partner’s love language so you end up bringing what you learnt from your past relationship into the new one. If your ex was the expressive type who thrived on ‘twinning’ on social media, your new partner might be the private type and sharing your one month anniversary might be the end of that relationship.

Every good thing requires effort. If you are already too exhausted from past relationships to be able to learn new things, I think you, my dear, should take a breather until you are ready.

Be practical in the way you live your lives; there is really no need to keep up with the Kardashians. There are some things that can be solved with good old realism; if he snores and you cannot stand it, sleep in different rooms. If she keeps crossing boundaries, write out rules that you should both follow and when they no longer work, change them.

Nothing should be cast in stone unless it enhances your well-being. Above all, understand that being in a relationship requires compromise and negotiation; it is a give and take affair. Those so called irreconcilable differences are usually egos clashing and cause turmoil in innocent children’s lives and make us regret why we did not pray for the famine in Karamoja instead of  your prayer request.

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