So you asked her to marry you and she said YES! The euphoria of meeting the “one” and falling in love is contagious. Everyone loves love. Your family and friends are all excited and happy for you. Plans for the big day are underway. The perfect venue, the guest list, beautiful clothes, the menu, décor and flowers are planned in minute detail. Everything has to be perfect….. but WAIT! The wedding is for one day; what happens thereafter?
As kids we read the fairy tales that tell us that the prince finds his princess; they fall in love and live happily ever after. Somewhere in our subconscious mind, we have the expectation that this is exactly what will happen for us. The worldwide divorce rate of 53% tells us otherwise.
The first challenge often occurs while planning the wedding. It’s not just the bride and groom that may have different expectations of what the wedding should look like; the parents often have different ideas as well. More so if there are religious differences or family traditions that certain members of the family want to uphold.
Further challenges occur when deciding where to live, what financial contributions each partner should make; who does the cooking and who washes up? It escalates when the kids arrive as the responsibilities become greater and you don’t have the carefree life you had when your relationship began.
I’m not saying this to scare you, but rather to impress upon you the importance of planning your marriage. We are not taught how to be a good husband /wife. We are not taught how to communicate our needs to our partner in a way that gets our needs met rather than resulting in conflict. We are also not taught how to handle our differences and negotiate so that both partners feel that they have won.
Most adults today are independent and self-sufficient. They are not looking for someone to take care of them but rather someone to share their life with. As a result of this independence most people know exactly what they want and some even feel entitled.
If you interview for a job, you need to provide a CV that details your qualifications, experience and talents. The employer wants to know what you have to offer. The majority of the interview is to see whether you’re the right candidate for the job and only the last portion is focused on what you want, ie. salary and benefits. But when it comes to marriage we seem to do the opposite. Most people are crystal clear about what they want from their partner and focus a lot less on what they have to offer.
If you’re considering marriage; I strongly urge you to take some time and each of you compile a list of what you have to offer in the marriage. What kind of spouse do you want to be? Do you want to be loving, supportive, responsible, a provider, a good parent, an example to your kids? Decide on how you would like to experience your relationship. A person who gives 50% because they are too afraid of getting hurt by giving all of themselves will have a 50% experience. A person who decides to give 100% will experience that relationship in its fullest potential.
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships, so take some time to nurture and grow yourself so that you can be your best in a relationship.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who is really needy or demanding? Then you must know how draining a relationship like that is. After a few hours with them, you feel like you’d rather jump off a bridge! This means that the person wants more than they have to offer. They are taking more energy than they are giving. So don’t be that person. When we give openly, our partner feels energised in our presence. Decide what you have to give and offer that to your partner and watch them respond by giving so much more to you in return.
Relationships are easy when you learn the basic skills that are required to create a deeply loving, mutually beneficial relationship. In a healthy relationship, both partners feel that they have gained something immeasurable by being with their partner. The two of them together are more than each of them on their own. Healthy, happy relationships don’t just happen; they are created.
Kas Naidoo – Relationship Coach and Matchmaker