One of the things that destroy relationships and marriages today is the influence of outsiders on the relationship. An outsider when it comes to a relationship/marriage is anyone that is not you and your spouse to be, that is father, mother, twin, best friend, sibling, e.t.c. as long they are not the ones you are saying I DO to, then they are outsiders.

This topic might be a little bit uncomfortable reading, as a matter of fact, I feel a little bit of discomfort as I write because it is a tricky one but it is something that is always overlooked yet it destroys homes, especially in Nigeria where EVERYONE has an opinion on your matter.

When dating, we often ignore the extent to which friends and family influence the person we are with. I can’t tell you why because I was also oblivious to it while dating too, however when I got married I realised that a lot of the decisions made in our household had nothing to do with the way either of us reasoned but what someone else ‘outside’ the relationship had said.

For this post, I will be focusing more on the influence of family (especially parents) than of friends because as children (with a typical Nigerian upbringing) we get so used to our parents making decisions for us. As we become adults, we then learn to be separate individuals from our families and also make decisions of our own, sadly not everyone goes through this maturity process and they end up taking it into their marriages.

When you get married, you are meant to transfer your loyalty from your family to the person you are with. From dating, you can tell if their parents will accept their new role quickly after marriage or if they will have a hard time adjusting to the idea that they are no longer as important. This has nothing to do with being a mummy’s boy or a daddy’s girl, as a matter of fact, you can be either and still be able to make decisions without consulting them, it has more to do with control and the way people can control you is by influencing your thoughts and decisions.

So before you say yes, who controls your relationship?

Here’s how you know if there is an outsider controlling your relationship:

  1. You’re not sure who you are with – Are you dating his/her family or are you dating them? You constantly find yourself worrying about the other people, as a matter of fact, most times you feel like the outsider intruding into their union.
  2. They keep changing their minds – After you might have had an agreement on a particular topic, your partner-to-be comes around with a totally different point of view because he/she spoke to someone. Whether the feedback is in support or against your view, you feel like you have to win over the validation of this ‘outsider’ before presenting it to your future spouse.
  3. They constantly worry about the opinion/reaction of outsiders – Most times, you find it difficult to do what you would like to do because your partner is worried about how the other person feels or will react. Whether it be the father, mother or the sibling, whoever they worry about the most is most likely the one that controls your relationship.
  4. You resort to manipulation – This is for the ladies, you often feel powerless where his family is concerned because no matter what you do or say he never listens to you. It is one thing if he clearly gets your grievances and you are both on the same page and another when he becomes defensive and protective of his family, making you feel like you are the one with the problem. So in order to win this ‘battle’ and make him see your point your view, you turn to emotional blackmail and cheap manipulation.
  5. He never makes decisions – I emphasize ‘he’ on this point because the man of the house would be expected to make decisions on what should be done in certain situations (yes I am traditional on men being the head of the home). If he can’t make his own choices without someone’s guidance then he may never grow into a man on his own accord. He won’t trust himself, so he’ll feel asking others for advice is the only way to go. After all, that is what he’s done all his life. And how are you supposed to trust him if he doesn’t trust himself?

A healthy balance of love, respect, and separation in a family is what makes a great relationship. The fact that he/she comes from a closely knit family can truly be positive but if you feel outsiders are being favoured over you even before you say I DO then maybe you need to rethink and possibly discuss your concerns with your future spouse.

That’s it for this week, use the comment box below and let me know what your thoughts are.