I want to begin by saying that I am not a relationship guru, far from it… My aim with this week’s blogpost is to share my lessons and hopefully help you to avoid mistakes, pain and heartbreak….
Lesson # 1: Everyone’s Journey Down the Aisle is Different!
If I could shout this from the rooftop at the risk of appearing like a crazy woman I would, not because I’m crazy but because of how true this lesson is. And ladies yes ladies, this one applies to us more than guys…. STOP COMPARING YOUR JOURNEY DOWN THE AISLE TO SOMEONE ELSES’S JOURNEY DOWN THE AISLE!!! Comparison will lead to frustration, strife, and disappointment especially when your expectations are not met. This is a lesson that I have learnt time and time again and each time is more painful than the last. I think proposals and weddings are a big trigger for me. Wedding shows on TV, proposals videos that break the internet and requests from friends and family to help out in their wedding are triggers for me. I start a train of thought that is unhealthy and quite frankly destructive.
“Why can’t it be my big day?
When will my day ever arrive?
What am I even doing in this relationship?
Kwaaaaaani how long does it take a person to get their act together to wife someone?
Is he even the right person for me?
Should I really be considering marriage with him if he’s taking this long to get his act together?
Is marriage not for me God?
Is it that you just want to test me until I break Lord?”
Once those thoughts start, it is like going down the darkest rabbit hole and it takes a lot of strength to snap out of it. I’m not saying that asking yourself such questions is a bad thing. No in fact I think it is a good thing to question certain aspects of your courtship however the intention behind your questions should not be comparison, covetousness’ or jealousy. My advice on how to tackle this is to identify your triggers and to adopt the right mindset i.e. avoid the dark rabbit hole. I know it is easier said than done but on this one you just have to ‘man up’ and do it. There’s really no two ways, it’s either you do it or you stay frustrated and miserable.
Lesson # 2: Be Careful Who You Open Up to
Uuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii have I made this mistake and boy oh boy have I paid for it. Relationships in general are very hard not just romantic ones but even work relationships (boss to employee/ supplier to consumer etc.) and personal relationships (sibling to sibling/ parent to child/ friend to friend/ mentor to mentee etc.) At times when you hit a rough patch in your relationship or when things get hard and murky, you may seek a different perspective, it is sometimes very easy to go to friends, family members, mentors or spiritual leaders for guidance, solutions and a different perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing… I think getting help or an outside perspective is commendable just make sure that you’re getting the right help and that you’re seeking it from the right people. I have made the mistake of sharing rough patches with friends, a mentor and even a pastor. Boy was I wrong and did I get the biggest shock of my life. I noted that when people give you advice you need to carefully observe their intention. What do I mean? Not everyone is for you, not everyone is rooting for your happiness, not everyone wants the best for you, even those who you expect to be for you. They can use heart to heart moments to completely derail you and even plant destructive thoughts and seeds into your relationship.
“Leave him, I was even wondering what you were doing with such a loser…”
“Leave that ni**a alone…”
“You deserve so much better, why are you selling yourself short…”
“What’s keeping him? Are you even sure that he loves you? Isn’t he playing you?”
“I think he’s cheating on you…”
Others (like the mentor and the pastor) in my case have a one-track mind on how relationships should be, because that is what they did and it worked for them so you should follow suit. So, you end up sitting through long sessions of rumblings of their past experiences, triumphs and perfect marriage/family.
“You know, you don’t need to have a wedding, just go to the AG’s office get a marriage certificate and start life together…”
Yes, there is a lot to be learned from such sessions but trust me when you’re going through it with your significant other the last thing you want to seat through is a session of someone’s perfect love story. My best piece of advice is to seek God first, go to scripture and research people who went through the same thing you’re going through in the Bible, also ask God to surround you with the right people and to give you the ability to discern those who are not for you. I also think that seeking professional help in form of a trained and qualified counselor is an option that you should not be afraid to explore. I say this with confidence because I have seen it work tremendously well.
Lesson # 3: Brace Yourself for the Naysayers
When I say brace yourself I really mean it, put on your seat belt and make sure that the air bag is in perfect working condition!!! Because the naysayers are a squad, a tight squad. I think they even have weekly or monthly chama meetings (ok maybe they don’t…). Some are upfront and tell you right to your face that they do not approve of your relationship and especially the duration of your relationship. Others (I’d actually say most) disapprove behind your back, it only surfaces in certain comments mid conversation. You need to be very secure in yourself and in your relationship. This security will be your protective shield, it will enable you to let those snide, rude comments to pass you by and develop answers that will literally shut them up. My advice would be to work in partnership with your significant other to achieve this. Have frequent “serious talks”/ “meetings” to actually see where you are and where you are headed. Check in with one another and make sure that your visions still align. Naysayers present the perfect opportunities to practice forgiveness. Forgive, forgive, forgive and do not hold grudges. It won’t do you any good keeping things naysayers say or do in your heart. You’ll be negatively affected. Do not allow resentment and bitterness to take over.
Lesson # 4: Sexual Purity is not a Choice
I cannot stress this enough. Just because you are going to marry your significant other does not give you a license to engage in sexual activity. God is very clear in the Bible that He designed intimacy for those who are married.
Genesis 2: 24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
We are not to engage in sexual activity if we are not married.
1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”
Colossians 3:5 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”
There are no options, there is no choice and there are no grey areas. This is a very hard truth to adhere to in general but more so for those in a long courtship because the attraction between you and your significant other is something that you are contending with on a long-term basis. I think this is why many people in the Christian faith marry young and others advocate strongly for short courtships to avoid the perils of falling into sexual sin. To that I say, your reason for marriage can’t be that you want to be intimate with your significant other and neither can you marry someone because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to resist being intimate with them. I think that the desire for marriage should be driven by factors other than intimacy… I’m not here to condemn anyone, but I cannot sugar coat the truth. I want to encourage everyone in long courtships. You can resist the temptation of sexual sin. You can overcome sexual sin if you have already given into your desires. All is not lost! Do not be hard on yourself or condemn yourself, just stop doing it because it displeases God, be intentional about obeying God and pleasing Him. My advice would be to set boundaries and keep them. Sit down with your significant other and have a very honest and open conversation about sexual purity. I know that many people also advocate having accountability partners. I think this is something for you and your significant other to discuss and decide on because that is a very sensitive issue to discuss with anyone (stranger or trusted individual). Just remember that it is easier to resist/ flee sexual sin than it is to actually break free from it. Like the diagram below shows, once you upgrade a level e.g. holding hands, it is very hard to go back in fact you now advance to something bigger, kissing, cuddling etc.
Lesson # 5: Put God First Always
Marriage is God’s creation so why would you oust Him from your relationship and occasionally call on Him when things get hard, then go back to giving him the cold shoulder when things are back to being rosy? In the beginning of my relationship, I realized that it was easy to let God into every area of my life except for my relationship… relinquishing control to Him when it came to that area of my life was so hard. I just didn’t trust Him which meant that often times He wasn’t first. Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I didn’t pray or seek Him…but I didn’t put Him first and I’m reaping the fruits of that and lemme jus say that it is NOT worth it. Put Him first in your relationship. God is God and your significant other is your significant other… don’t get it twisted. I’d also advice that you and your significant other should start creating habits of seeking God together, perhaps start praying together or go through Bible books together, you could also go for seminars or church events together. Do it from the beginning because trying to cultivate such habits after dating for a while is not as straight forward…
Lesson # 6: A Courtship is not Marriage
I think this is one of the easiest mistakes to make when you have been dating someone for a while. You fall into set routines and patterns, overfamiliarity really sets in and traditions are created. On the outside looking in it seems awesome, but the reality is that it isn’t because dating/courting/going out or whatever you want to call it is NOT the destination. That’s not where you want to set up camp and chill…. Marriage is the end goal!!! I don’t know how to put this without coming off as mean and abrasive but if you’re courting don’t act like you’re married… just don’t!!! It makes things so unnecessarily complicated.
Lesson #7: COMMUNICATE
Check in and have regular meetings! COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE! I cannot stress this enough. I think lack of communication may be one of the biggest sources of conflicts in any relationship. Make sure to cover the hard topics as well as the lovey dovey mushy stuff in equal measure. This has to be one of the most challenging aspects of romantic relationships and just when I think I’m becoming a pro something happens that brings me back down to earth. This is still something that I’m learning and truth be told it is not easy. Communication entails SO MUCH HARD WORK that most times I just want to throw in the towel and call it quits…. I wish I could say don’t give up and keep at it…but I am very aware that sometimes things can get very toxic and walking away is the best thing to do….
Again, I need to reiterate that I am not an expert, these are just a few gems of wisdom I’ve picked over the years.
Until next time ^.^
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