Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it, it dies. You come into a relationship with all your personal belongings, good and bad; past experiences, background, and expectations. You come in with all your views and perceptions to life. You come in with all these stuff and your partner comes with theirs too. You won’t know them if you don’t talk and communicate.
You don’t talk to someone because you know them. You know them because you talk to them. Communication allows you to know what stuff they have and are bringing. It’s through communication you know what questions to ask and why they are the way they are.
However, talking isn’t the same as communication. You can be talking and not communicating. Many partners today only talk to each other, they are not communicating. When you talk you give out information that does not necessarily require a response. Communication on the other hand is both verbal and non-verbal and it does always require a response, and not responding is also a response.
Our hearts, minds and souls mingle when we communicate. You share your thoughts, your experiences, feelings and desires. You cannot have a successful relationship if you do not communicate. You have to keep communicating and not leave your partner to assumptions. Ask questions. Wait and listen for answers. Ask for clarity. Ask for understanding. Chat. And keep chatting. You have to keep communicating. No gaps.
Communicate more. Communicate better.
You communicate better when you use ‘I’ instead of ‘You.’
‘I feel like you are avoiding me,’ instead of ‘You are avoiding me.’
‘I don’t like it when you talk to me like that,’ instead of ‘You always talk to me like that.’
You communicate better when you compliment each other.
Preface your conversations with your pet names.
‘Baby, when will you be back?’ Instead of ‘when will you be back?’
‘Honey, I want us to visit the Donalds,’ instead of, ‘I want us to visit the Donalds.’
It may not be easy at first, but you can learn it.
- Mutual Respect
By communicating, they have shared their lives with you and, as it were, become vulnerable with you. They would expect some modicum of respect. You now have certain information the general public, or other friends, do not have of them, respect the privilege.
Respect their feelings, opinions and personality. You don’t have to agree on everything but you can have mutual respect for one another. It is unhealthy to try to force your views down another’s throat. It is unhealthy if they are put under pressure to become like you before you can love them.
Love can make you want to please your partner. Love for your partner can make them want to stop wearing a type of skirt and change to pants. But let it be their choice and decision, not that you begin to pressure or demand it. That is unhealthy.
In a healthy relationship you won’t have to lose you before you can be loved. You won’t have to be pushed to bend so over you cannot find yourself again. If these happens they are only signs that the relationship is unhealthy. Because if you were totally bad, they wouldn’t dare date you in the first place. Love will love you enough to accept you. Their opinions on certain issues may be completely off tangent from yours, it is not a crime. You can debate or discuss but at the end, respect their views. Tell yourself, ‘I don’t have to win every argument.’ Because truly, you don’t. You can win all the arguments and lose your partner. And while you keep glorying in the fact that you have better skills, better points of view, better arguments, stronger opinion, they keep drifting away from you, slowly but surely, until the relationship packs up and you wonder ‘what went wrong.’ It isn’t too far-fetched – you won all the discussions and arguments and lost them.
Your partner is not perfect. And you are not perfect either. If there is anyone in your life that needs the gift of forgiveness so often, it is your partner. And it may be unfair to be generous with it to others and hold it back when it comes to the one you profess you love so deeply.
Research has shown that couples who practice forgiveness are more likely to enjoy longer, more satisfying romantic relationships. Accept that conflicts happen. We are all flawed. We are all imperfect. And as long as we interact with another soul, there will definitely be friction and disagreements.
Again we all have expectations, and they are set consciously and unconsciously, sometimes spoken and unspoken. We expect those whom we love to behave and act in certain ways. We expect them to be more understanding. We expect them to be more tolerating. We expect them to be more caring. We expect them to be more loving, more giving, more affectionate, more considerate, more appreciative, more encouraging, more thoughtful, more selfless, and more respectful. The list is endless. Whatever imaginary bar of expectation we place on people is automatically raised when it comes to our partners. It is done so unconsciously.
Unmet expectations lead to disappointments. And disappointments give birth to hurt and pain.
If we expect them to be more in all these things, then we must be more forgiving and more willing to let go.
Review your expectations often. Give your partner some latitude to offend and be willing to offer the gift of forgiveness when they do
Trust is built overtime. And it is earned not demanded.
You can’t demand trust but trust can make demands. It has its process and its process is gradual. You must understand that everything you do, gesture or movement, action or reaction, behaviour or conduct, assertion or claim, presence or absence, commitment or pledge are the very materials that trust is built on. We take a risk when we choose to trust. However, whether we are conscious of it or not, all our partner does or does not do help in feeding our trust. The words they speak, the claims they make, the decisions they take, all feed our trust. And trust is slow and gradual. It is built on daily.
There will be days when trust will make its demands of you and if it has not been built overtime, in the seasons of dearth and abundance, growth will be difficult.
If you find yourself asking or telling your partner ‘trust me’ it’s a clear sign that you have trust issues. When trust is properly built in a relationship, you should be able to rest and feel secure. Trust gives you confidence that any problem is surmountable. So it is a key ingredient for a relationship to be successful.
- Core Values
You must be in sync when it comes to core values. Yeah, I know opposites attract, but if you are looking at going the long haul, you cannot be opposite in core values. Same things must drive you. You may not be passionate about same things but your core for existence must be about same things.
I could sit for hours watching tennis, my wife could sit for hours watching Desperate Housewives. You make my day if you give me sandwich or hotdog to snack on. My wife could worship the ground you walk on with a treat of Suya and Garri. A day off at work could find me on my bed writing and studying. Give my wife a day off and she is packing her box ready to travel, visit or go watch movies. I could write into the night not batting an eye. My wife could finish more than two novels in a day and not be tired. She does the reading. I do the writing. Talk about opposites attracting. And these are okay. It’s okay if we have shared interests. It’s okay if we do not have shared interests.
However, it can never be okay if we do not have shared values. Shared interests and shared values are not the same thing.
It is key and very important that we both shared same values. Spending time together with each other and with the family is a core value to us. A devoted and committed relationship with God is a fundamental value we both share and cannot compromise. Raising godly seeds, mentoring and building lives is an integral part of our existence. Service to humanity is a major goal in our lives.
And we value the fact that we have diverse interests. We respect the spice it brings into our relationship. As a result we allow each other enough room to enjoy these dissimilar interests knowing fully well that they help nourish us a couple. I can come home from work and see new novels by the bedside table. Instead of saying you are wasting money, I smile and respect the passion she has and her love for reading. She wakes up at 2 a.m. in the morning and finds me typing away, she stretches and gives me a peck, encouraging me, before she goes back to sleep. It’s respect for our uniqueness and differences. It’s understanding that our interests, though varied, are part of what makes us blossom.
And yes, we value hugs. We are big time huggers.
Values are your firmly held beliefs that make you you. They are rulebooks that have guided you throughout your existence in life. They play a key role in your decisions, choices and your sense of self. Values are what you need, not what you would like to have.
You and your partner must have shared values.
‘When your values are being honoured, you feel good. When you or someone else is pushing up against your values, you’ll feel a certain level of discomfort, if not outright pain.’ Rachael Lay
‘Can two walk together except they agree?’ Amos 3:3
Keep Making Memories. Keep making beautiful memories together.
Show up at their office and say you just stopped by to drop lunch. Travel together for the party and stop somewhere in the middle of the journey to eat or sleep over. Take a walk in the park and just enjoy the company of each other.
Disneyland, karaoke nights, comedy shows, picnics, etc. Compete in foosball. Go for gym sessions and challenge each other in who can do most push-ups. Go bird-watching in the woods. Wander the bookstore and have conversations among the shelves. Make lunch together on a sunny afternoon. Order pizza. Uncork a bottle of wine and play scrabble or monopoly. Head to the spa and unwind.
There’s so much to do. Make memories. Make beautiful memories. #KMM #Keepmakingmemories
Your relationship can be fun. Your marriage can be sweet. You can do better than you are doing. It is possible!