There is something divine about love. Two adults of the opposite sex making a conscious decision to be an item is a beautiful thing. Magic has nothing on it. When two people who like each other decide to take things to the next level, there is an overwhelming feeling of joy that borders delirium. The heart beats faster and takes over the body. You feel goosebumps when you see your significant other’s texts. Their voice awakens the ancestors in you. Thoughts of them alone can turn a dull day into a sunny one. When you hold hands, you feel like a hot stone massage is being rolled over your body gently by a Thai masseuse.
But that season usually fades as quickly as the morning dew. Sooner than later, those good days grow wings and fly away like an eagle. And soon the two of you begin to realize the depth of the differences between yourselves. Conflicts are brewed in that season. But for one to build a successful relationship, you must be careful of the pitfalls that can easily turn the relationship into one that tastes like bitter lemons. In my observations, the following landmines can blow a relationship apart:
Every person is broken. Every single one of us is cracked on the inside. The skin and the outward appearance might say otherwise, but if you scratch just an inch into who any person really is, you will encounter a gush of insecurities, personality issues, wounds from parents, teachers etc. and these eventually appear when you start dating. If you don’t decide to deal with the junk from your past, you will constantly have conflicts with your spouse. That boyfriend/girlfriend who hurt you in the past, the abuser who took away your virginity, the parent who spoke mean words that hurt you, your teacher who always picked on you, your absentee father who never affirmed you as a lady or who was never there to show you how to be a man, the abusive family you were brought up in, the poverty that ravaged your family and robbed you of your self-esteem or any other painful experience you went through. Baggage from your past can easily move in with you and take residence in your relationship. Some types of baggage are so subtle in the way they influence your life that you won’t even know that they are still an issue for you. They only manifest themselves and get compounded when you get into a relationship. They immediately morph from anthills to mountains which you then have to deal with.
Take your baggage individually to the cross of Calvary. Deal with it as an urgent issue. Daily cry to God and ask him to heal you from the bruises that life has given you. Look for help; a counselor, a friend to walk with you, a pastor to hold your hand and walk with you. Get accountability partners and see your life change. But even as you settle down, you will realize that these issues will still affect how you relate with your partner. But don’t give up. Let understanding and empathy run through your actions and words. Let her/him know that you chose them regardless of the challenges they have gone through in life.
It is very easy to find fault in people. You don’t even need to work or focus hard to notice something that is wrong with your spouse because we are broken and messed up people. We have overwhelming weaknesses and that’s why there is a need for couples to show grace and a deep sense of compassion to each other. But when we focus on finding faults in others, we spread the bed with resentment and then we are forced to lie on it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a healthy principle of ‘iron sharpening iron’. In fact, I believe couples must be willing to speak openly about some of the things that they are uncomfortable with in their relationship. But the tone and motive with which faults are raised is what matters. Assuring your partner that your love for them is intact regardless of their weaknesses can go a long way towards challenging them to become better people. But when you always point out flaws, mistakes, and weaknesses and then you magnify them, that’s a recipe for pain and disaster. Ensure that you motivate your partner. Let them know that you are their number one fan. Even if the world fails and nothing works out, you will still be there. Affirm them, remind them of your unconditional love even as the two of you work towards becoming better people.
People hate to be controlled. By controlled I mean you never let them be who they are. When you always want things to go your way. When your worldview is much superior to that of your spouse, when you always order people around and are never gracious enough to accept the middle ground, you are brewing a tsunami that you won’t manage to handle when it’s fully awoken. There must be a compromise between spouses. You must be willing to meet each other half way. You must sometimes cede control and let your spouse be herself even as you also remain to be yourself. Sometimes you are going to have to overlook something for the sake of the person you love. You might need to pick those socks up from the floor for him from time to time if it’s a habit he can’t drop. Sometimes you have to accept her drooling at night if it’s something she can’t control. You may have to accept some things that are minor but which, when continually raised, have the potential of jeopardizing the relationship.
People are wired in different ways. We love and perceive differently. Our worldviews are different. Many couples sometimes think that love and how it is given and received is a universally uniform. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must understand the specific love language that your partner likes. Is it an affirmation, touch, sacrifice, commitment, gifts? What do they respond to the most as a demonstration of love? You must spend time with your spouse and find out exactly what your partner loves. Because if you decide to give your love in a way that you perceive is the best way love can be demonstrated without considering your partner’s love language, your love will never be communicated to her or him. Woe unto you because the resentment you will be piling for yourself will be enough to drown you. Spend time with your spouse. Find out what he/she loves and ensure that you do those things religiously. You can be creative in how you decide to do what they love but ensure that the fundamental deed is done.
My prayer for all of us is that we will enjoy love and reap its fruits and that till the old age, anyone who chooses to walk into this ministry will definitely find long satisfaction. Do you have any thoughts to add to this article? Let us know in the comments section.
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