If there is any topic so universal that it can transcend age, culture and gender, it’s this – love and relationships.
You’d think that after years and years of being exposed to this (and being by-products of this phenomenon!) , people would eventually get things right. But no; to this very day, most of us are still struggling to make it “right”, if there is such a thing.
So here goes the ultimate question on love and relationships – just how do you make them work?!
Now, before we move forward, let me say this – I am not a love doctor and in no way am I an expert on this field. However, I’d like to think that being in a happy and healthy relationship with someone for nine years and counting now, we must have done something right. Whenever this topic comes up, my friends always ask me, “What’s your secret?”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no “secret”. Whenever we see happy couples, what we really only see in reality is the surface; what we don’t realize is that behind it are two individuals working together to keep their relationship intact – and it’s not an easy task.
Friends, allow me to share with you some of the things I know about love and relationships. However, know that it’s not the same for everyone else; as they say, different strokes for different folks. I do hope though that my advice works well for majority of you.
1 – Friendship is the best foundation.
When I was taking up a class on the philosophy of love back in college, I remember my professor saying that the secret to a happy marriage is simple: find your best friend, and marry them.
A romantic relationship built on solid friendship is the best kind – it’s fun and meaningful at the same time. How do you foster friendship? Engage in conversations together and with other people; this will allow you to get to know each other more. Have fun, be comfortable and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. This way, you will find out whether the person is innately good or just making pa-impress (never fall for the latter!).
In the long run, romance will be just one of the few things that make up your relationship – it won’t be everything. So find someone you can have intellectual conversations with, someone who brings out the best in you… find a best friend in your partner and you’ll see that you will enjoy your relationship just as much as you enjoy the friendship you share with your girlfriends.
2 – Have a sound mind (if you don’t, force it!)
The best — and I mean THE BEST love/dating/relationship book I’ve read of all time is Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray. This book made me understand the primary differences of men and women and why people who don’t understand this fact eventually fail at their relationships: men are influenced by logic and women are influenced by emotions.
This fact is the root of most differences that opposite sexes share, methinks; thus, we have to understand that we are made different from our partner. You don’t need someone who is similar to you, you need someone who complements you. Essentially, it helps to have a sound mind in order to stay level-headed in a relationship. Having a sound mind entails understanding the differences that you share, mutual respect and trust, learning how to compromise and managing your expectations.
The backbone of every relationship is trust and respect. Stop doubting your partner and respect each other’s privacy. I’m not saying that you be complacent, but learn how to manage it. This is easier said than done, especially for us ladies, but this is how I do it: I always tell myself that my man knows better and at the end of the day, it’s really up to him whether to cheat on me or not. A man who truly loves you always has your best interests at heart; if he does end up fooling you, walk away with the knowledge that what he did speaks volumes of his character and that you deserve better.
Ladies, don’t expect your relationship to be a fairy tale. He won’t always be a prince charming; sometimes, he will forget special dates or fail to give you presents, but don’t feel bad right away. Remember that there are different languages of love and maybe you just overlooked his. Also, we must not get away with not apologizing, especially when it’s our mistake! Learn how to say sorry when necessary.
Gents, I know sensitivity to other people’s emotions don’t just happen overnight, but when you’re in a relationship, you have to listen. Admittedly, women are complex because we expect men to understand what we mean without us having to say it. It’s crazy, I know, but we’re made that way. So listen attentively, look out for any signals that she may give, and respond accordingly. It’s a tough job – but someone’s gotta do it. 😉
Lastly, always think before you act or speak. When in a fight, don’t do anything at the height of your emotions and don’t rush your decisions! As level-headed people, everything we do or say to our partner must be a conscious decision. If you’re not sure what to do, talk to a family member or a close friend.
Sometimes, we lose ourselves in the process of loving and more often than we not, we fail to stay level-headed in our relationships. Let’s not get carried away with being the other half of a particular person; know that you had a sound mind before entering this relationship and being in the right one should not make you lose that attribute.
3 – All in a day’s work.
I’m sure we are all aware of this somehow, but we always seem to forget that happy, healthy and lasting relationships are not miracles; they take a lot of conscious effort. In fact, it’s something you must work on every.single.day.
There are bad days, and then there are good ones; you don’t just give up when you encounter a challenge or get on each other’s nerves. Agreeing to disagree is actually a healthy practice. It also takes two committed people who want to sustain the relationship for it to work.
Also, I have this to say – when it comes to devoting time to your loved ones, always make it quality over quantity. I’ll take having meaningful date nights with you once a week versus going out everyday with your face glued to your mobile phone 90% of the time.
People often coin different terms as excuses to failed relationships like “losing the spark”, “irreconcilable differences” or the infamous “seven-year itch”. Here’s the catch – every relationship loses its “spark” at some point, differences are always there, and an “itch” can happen anytime – every year has its own itch for pete’s sake! Then why is it that some couples still end up together despite all of this? Probably because they persevere – that, and they must truly love each other.
Science will disagree, but the way I see it, there is no secret formula to love and relationships. Experts have so much to say about love but really, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. It’s more of learning and growing as you go; learn from your mistakes, seek advice and adjust constantly as you and your partner will be going through different stages of your life.
So, how do you figure out if you’re in the right relationship? Well, just like what grooms usually say when asked about how they knew if she’s the one…
you just know.