By Bimbola Amao
Move closer, in honour of the month of love, let me share with you five things I have learnt in this five year of sharing life with a good man.
Love is not enough. While we idealize love and see it as a cure-all for all of life’s problem, it’s not the whole truth. Marriage is a long journey that can’t be sustained by the chemistry alone. You will fall in and out of love in marriage, it’s an unending crescendo. There would be days you are drowning in his dreamy eyes and wandering sweetly in the imaginary flower garden in your head, playing tickle me with the boo and there are other days you want to dazzle him, howbeit with a slap if not for self restrain. Healthy relationships always call for more than lofty emotions or burning chemistry. There are other fundamental values such as respect, thoughtfulness and commitment. You will soon understand that there are things more important in our lives than simply being in love. Emotions are dumb that is why you can fall in and out of love. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and someone who is obviously bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and detrimental ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. You can fall in love with one while still married to another. While love is a wonderful experience and it’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer, the only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important in your life than romantic or sexual love. Good loving is beautiful but it can never be enough for a good relationship, there are other fundamental values.
50-50 is a scam. Forget everything you have read about modern couples, feminism and any other ism, 50-50 is a marital scam. There would always be that one partner who has the capacity to love the most, give the most, care the most. 50-50 says “if you’ll do your part, I’ll do mine. But I won’t do my part until I see you do yours”. We want the other partner to do his or her part in order for us to do ours. But this sort of 50-50 thinking is actually damaging in a marriage. It feels like a business deal, it’s competitive and unhealthy. A relationship cannot be predominantly carried on like a series of business transactions. Committed relationships, of course, are partnerships and as such, they do require mutuality, reciprocity, and trust but no one is marking scores. Both are trying to outdo each other in an avalanche of giving utter mostly withholding nothing. You can go ahead and tear your score-book now because when the flow of giving stops, both people suffer.
A little vulnerability makes for great bonding. No, Vulnerability is key to intimacy, to love at all it is to be vulnerable. When we truly love, we must do so honestly. No secrets, no avoidance, no kidding ourselves, no ulterior motives. Take this from someone who never wanted to be vulnerable or caught in any weak state, vulnerability makes love sweeter, though it’s quite hard. You can’t be holding back and getting loved. If you will love, love fully, your heart will thank you for it. The warmth and tingly feelings only come with great pleasure in the place of not holding back. Without vulnerability, you will be guarded and unbroken but you will be alone inside and impenetrable and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable and if you do get hurt, you learn whatever lessons are to be learned and move on.
Marriage doesn’t exactly make you happy. It’s not marriage that makes you happy, it’s a happy marriage that makes you happy. Our happiness level isn’t just a fact of life or a repercussion of our relationship status; a significant chunk of our happiness level is under our control. One of the best predictor of human happiness is the quality of social relationships, and married people seems happier because of the quality of relationship they share. So, does marriage make us happy? Yes if you are in it with a good partner, but so does a lifelong bond with a friend or sibling. I have since diversified my paths to happiness. Find several things to make you smile, giggle and give you fulfillment other than your spouse. Believe it or not, there’s more to life than your marriage and kisses.
You can bin all of societal expectations and still be happy in your relationship. Your man may not be the ‘fixer’ in your home and your wife your wife doesn’t have to respond to everything emotionally. While traditionally they say that men want to solve a problem and women just want to be heard, your man may just want you to listen while he rants. Don’t ever forget that books like “Men are from mars, women are from Venus”, “Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti” are also opinions of authors who didn’t meet you before writing their stereotyped opinions, so read both sides of advice because you may have strayed from their norms and nothing is still wrong with you or your relationship.