#BYSYSERIES: WHO CONTROLS YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

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.

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#BYSYSERIES: ADVICE FROM TWITTER

I’m back again, after a short break last weekend.

Actually, I was going to write on our next topic until I came across a post by SisiYemmie on Twitter. She started off with this

And here are a few responses that not only caught my eye but are relevant to what we’ve been talking about

Read: ARE THE MESSIAH?

Read: WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET MARRIED?

Read: ARE THE MESSIAH?

https://twitter.com/ngtalenthub/status/933959696616165376

Although these are addressed towards women, men are not exempt from these very valid points.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with the advice listed above?

and of course…

#shamelessplug

I’ll be back soon with a continuation of #BYSYSERIES, for now, forgive me, Lagos living has been hectic (as usual)

Love,

Mz Gidi

#BYSYSERIES: ARE YOU EQUALLY YOKED?

Growing up in a Christian home, the topic of being equally yoked in marriage always comes up. Usually, it’s in the debate for or against inter-religious dating and marriages, and 9 out of 10 times it is the main topic at every singles’ conference/fellowship/service…

Being equally yoked goes beyond religion. Even though the term is gotten from the Bible, today I am borrowing it to talk about the importance of COMPATIBILITY in relationships and marriages.

So, before you say yes, are you equally yoked?

Even though we all wish to have passionate love from now until the end of time, the truth is, it is compatibility that makes most relationships/marriages work. While it is most likely love that brings the couple together, it is compatibility that keeps the marriage going day in day out, year in year out.

We all know this illustration, or maybe I am speaking from my personal experience. Two people meet, they supposedly fall in love, the rush of wedding planning kicks in, they get married and then the reality sets in (my mother calls it ‘reality channel’). In our culture, the chances of living with the person before marriage is very slim and you can’t know so much about the other person unless you’ve spent enough time with them (even that is relative).

The relationship after the marriage often ends up being filled with explosive arguments, fighting, separation and may lead to a divorce. Gone are those days where people stayed in toxic marriages for the sake of society which may explain the rise of divorces in Nigeria today. In marriages where both people decide to stay, they end up resenting each other and living totally different lives, like flatmates in their own homes.

Compatibility can mean many things to different people, but the basic things include values, ideas, habits, preferences, interpersonal and communication styles that have a lot in common.

Based on last week’s post, we know that we cannot change people so what we should be looking for is someone we are compatible with, especially in the following key areas.

  • Religious beliefs – Let’s start with the most obvious since I am borrowing the phrase from the bible anyway. Having two people who are both ‘deeply’ religious in different beliefs could be a major issue, however, I have seen that it is not really about the religion but about the morals, beliefs, and doctrines behind them. For example, two Pentecostal Christians could get married, however one of them is more inclined to the works, i.e signs and wonders, demon chasing, miraculous healings, countless fasting, water from Israel e.t.c while the other does not put so much emphasis on such things and would rather focus on practical living as a Christian. It might look like nothing to you but where a marriage is concerned, it could lead to a series of debates, like ‘what church do we attend?’ ‘why do you pay a tithe when we have bills to pay?’

 

  • Gender Roles – This is a very crucial one. It can be very difficult to move forward if, for example, a man thinks that a woman’s “job” is to be a wife and mother and that his role is to be a breadwinner, and his wife wants to work full time outside the home. Often, couples do not explicitly discuss what each partner thinks about gender roles prior to marriage (especially the division of labor when parenting), so each partner feels blindsided and disappointed when they cannot agree on these things. Our attitude about gender roles comes from our backgrounds and observations of our own parents, for example, being raised in a male dominant home as a woman could affect the way you relate with a man who was raised in a female dominant home.

 

  • The role/influence of extended family – Sometimes, one person has not individuated much from their family of origin, and this can be frustrating for the other partner, who feels they have married a child and not an adult. Like, when you have a man who calls his mother for advice every day and a wife who prefers to be independent and does not ask her family for much, there can be a great deal of conflict. This type of conflict becomes worse when one partner’s family starts criticizing the other partner, either outright or passive-aggressively, and this person does not defend the partner. In-law “drama” can sometimes be the death-knell of a relationship, particularly when it is extensive and one partner feels that the other does not understand the severity of the problem. Sounds very Nollywoodish I know, but it is important that both of you understand the role of extended family in your union and before you take that plunge you should be able to tell if your husband/wife-to-be has indeed individuated from their family. Always remember that you and your partner-to-be will become a new family, a new team.

 

  • Character and personality – Yes we often say, opposites attract, but that has a limit. After a while, you may wish that your introverted partner would stop choosing to stay home on another Friday night or that your extroverted/talkative partner would shut up so you could think for a second. Be honest with yourself, can you really be with someone who is your complete opposite for the rest of your life or would you prefer that would be some similarities personality/character wise.

 

  • Sex – Sex is about having compatible libidos, each partner’s desire for sex, though this will change with developmental issues such as having children or aging. But it is also about both your needs really getting met, being able to educate your partner by saying what you like and don’t like, them being able to listen and not use it as a medium to attack your ‘sexual experience’. If you are in a celibate relationship, are you both open to talking about what your sexual expectations are in marriage? Is sex about connection or fun, or primarily about procreation?

 

  • Finances – Do you both agree where money is concerned? You need to be on the same page about debt, budgets, savings, investments, joint accounts and other things such as vacations, eating out vs staying in e.t.c. I should also add here that marriage essentially involves a complete surrender of your rights for the benefit of each other. Neither you nor your partner will have the right to make major purchases without full disclosure and agreement of the other. Your money will become their money, you will no longer spend it however you please (even if it is helping out your parents pay a bill). Other than the financial answers, you will find that financial responsibility and spending often tells you a lot about someone’s character, are they resourceful or wasteful? Are they self-indulgent or self-controlled? Pay attention to these traits while discussing finances before you say yes.

That’s it for compatibility this week, I didn’t plan for the post to be this long but I guess I just had to write as much as I could on the topic of compatibility before and after marriage, as it was one of my major issues after I got married.

Compatibility does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything all the time, but simply being able to work well together. Compatible couples will argue (that’s a given), but the beauty of a compatible union is that the couple can generally find ways to reconcile their differences, agree to disagree or compromise.

So, before you say yes, are you equally yoked?

Use the comment box below and let me know what you think, do you agree that compatibility is equally as important? are there other areas of compatibility you think I’ve missed?

#BYSYSERIES: ARE YOU THE MESSIAH?

One thing that is prevalent in relationships today is the thought that we can change our partners, after all:

  • there are not enough men in the market,
  • this one that you have found a man, you better hold on to him o
  • It’s just youthful exuberance, he/she will outgrow it

….and so on and so forth

These are the numerous reasons we believe we can change our potential partners, maybe not change but we can influence this ‘change’ and somehow they would become the men/women we want them to be. My question to you today is

Before you say yes, what if they never change? What if they never become better than they already are? Would you still want to be with them?

The mistake most of us women make is believing we are the Messiah, the ones sent to save humanity from themselves. We, with open arms, hug these red flags believing that with much persuasion, everything would turn out fine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly natural and healthy to want your partner to grow, to reach their potential, and to be all they can be. Growing and changing together, and working toward mutual (and private) goals is part of a healthy relationship, however insisting on this change, manipulating them into who you want them to be is where there is a problem. Even if it’s for their best interest, it is still a huge problem.

NEWSFLASH: You cannot change people, you must accept them for who they are.

Everyone has a right to choose their career, their friends and how they want to live their lives. What you should be doing is figuring out if that is what you want for yourself and if your choices are truly compatible with theirs (compatibility is a whole different topic).

It is never healthy to believe you can ‘change’ them. And I’m not saying you’re in an unhealthy relationship if you’re trying to change your partner, what I am saying is that he/she is not a project, there is no trophy on the last day for changing your partner. Even if you think you’re doing something for their own good, such as pressuring them into going back to school, being more spiritual, losing weight or becoming financially responsible, you must realize that what you’re really doing is trying to remove their choice. They should choose those things for themselves NOT you.

Here’s how you know you are trying to change your partner:

  1. You disapprove of almost everything – Nothing they do or say is acceptable. Your partner loves playing video games. You hate video games and think they’re childish. Sadly, you can’t take that away from them. Your partner likes what they like. If you continue criticizing them, making fun of them, or complaining when they do them, what you’re really doing is trying to change them into a person who doesn’t do those things. I should also add you are not allowed to criticize their dreams either, their dreams, just like yours are valid (Hey Lupita!)
  2. You’re forceful – There’s a razor-thin line between encouraging someone to be their best selves and pressuring someone to be who you think they should be. You should not become forceful or give ultimatums to get them to be who you want time to be. If their current state bothers you so much and you can’t love your partner even if they never change jobs or get more education, then they’re probably not the partner for you.
  3. You’ve become a monitoring spirit – you police everything they do and they are no longer comfortable being themselves around you. You low-key want to tell them where they should be and what they should be doing.
  4. You play therapist – Trying to fix someone is a way of trying to change them. If you are with someone with serious problems and you feel like you can fix them, you’re doing yourself and your partner a disservice. People have to want to fix themselves.
  5. You are always comparing them with others (including your exes) – This is quite simple if they don’t match up then why are you about to say yes?
  6. You make all the decisions – Constantly making all the decisions is a subtle way of changing someone. Keep the decision-making fair and let your partner make choices sometimes that you don’t like. It’s how relationships work.
  7. You gave him an ultimatum to propose – Before you have my head, hear me out, Ladies if he isn’t ready then why are you trying to make him ready. Giving ultimatums is never a good idea, it makes you appear pushy and irrational. Your partner will only resent you over a period of time because they were not ready for such a huge commitment.

So before you say yes, ask yourself if you love your partner just the way they are because if you don’t, chances are you still won’t love them when they become who you think they should be, and if they never change, you would live a miserable life of wishes and ‘had I knowns’. On the flip side, ask yourself if your partner is trying to change you and why you should be with someone who doesn’t accept you for who you really are.

#BYSYSERIES: HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE?

Now that we have established why you want to get married, we can now move on to other important topics. Like How do you communicate?

These days, we often mistake conversation for communication in relationships. When asked if we communicate, the first response is usually ‘yes, we talk about everything and anything’. I remember once saying the reason I chose to marry my ex, was that we could talk for hours, which to me meant we communicated but one thing I never realized was all we did was gist, pointless gisting if I am to be completely honest with myself but not actually communicate.

The truth is, just because you can spend 22 out of 24 hours in a day talking about everything does not mean you are actually getting across to the person, especially someone you plan to spend the rest of your life with.

So my question to you today is, before you say yes, how do you communicate?

By communicate I mean, do you both spend the time to talk and also take mental (or written) notes of what your desires are. Or are you just talking and brushing everything under the carpet, because, at some point, you’ll be forced to lift up that carpet and face them one after the other all over again. In order to answer that question, here are a few things to think about:

  1. Are you able to talk about everything honestly? – I am talking from your fears to your fantasies. I say honestly because you do not sugarcoat them, or make them appear less serious than they really are. It is very important to be able to bare it all and not be afraid that you will get judged.
  2. Are you able to explain yourself? – Especially after a misunderstanding because arguments WILL happen, some nasty ones too but communication is when you both can sit down and understand each person’s point of view, make a conscious effort to do better and not repeat the same mistakes. Think back at the last few arguments you’ve had, has there been any change? Do they change the topic while you try to speak your mind or are you hoping that he/she would eventually get the message?
  3. Are you able to tell them when they hurt you? – Sometimes unintentionally things happen or statements are made that could hurt your feelings. You need to be able to tell your partner how you feel without the fear of having another world war. You should be confident knowing that telling your partner your grievance would not mean them turning it into something about themselves and you must be open to listening to their explanation if any.
  4. Do they REALLY apologize? – I cannot stand is when the word ‘Sorry’ is thrown at you, to me it’s just another way of keeping you quiet. One of the ways of knowing if you are communicating is in their apology, A real apology takes into account what happened and promises not to repeat those hurtful events.
  5. What is your nonverbal communication like? – Not everything has to be spoken about. Sometimes you might have nothing to say immediately and ideally, your partner, will be sensitive enough to notice when you are uncomfortable with a particular statement or situation and not force you to be what you are not. To be fair, not everyone is skilled at nonverbal communication so know who you are with and be free to tell them how you feel (Re: #3) in case they didn’t notice.

If you and your partner at the moment have huge communication problems, then you need to sit back and re-evaluate. Do not say yes thinking things will ‘change’ because in some cases it doesn’t and in others, it will take a few fights that could have been avoided if you sorted things out from the start.

BEFORE YOU SAY YES: WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET MARRIED?

If you haven’t read the introduction to the series, then do so now.

If you have, welcome back and let’s begin.

For the first post on the BYSY series, we address the question WHY?

Why do you want to get married? Is it because everybody is getting married? There’s so much pressure? You want to reenact your own Disney fairytale story? You want the white Cinderella or mermaid dress and cathedral veil? Or maybe you want our own cool hashtag?

Obviously, some of the above are not valid reasons but that’s the thing, a lot of us do not have valid reasons for wanting to get married. For some, it is just a box to be checked right after getting a degree and completing NYSC, while for others it’s so people can get off our backs and we can have our ‘freedom’. I once met a guy whose motivation to get married was so he could be promoted in his line of work (I guess that too counts as a reason).

The truth is, no one forces us to get married and dare I say, not all of us will get married, some will get married at 25, others at 35 or maybe 55, it makes no difference the age because marriage is a HUGE decision.

But before we talk about saying yes, the question really should be why you want to get married?

Here are a few reasons why you should NOT be saying yes or maybe taking some extra time to make that decision. I will explain some points further, however, some are quite simple:

  • You want to be free from your parents.
  • To have sex legally.
  • You are tired of feeling lonely
    Loneliness happens to be a very popular reason why a lot of people get into relationships. We somehow believe that the solution to filling the void we feel is by getting someone to do it for us. Which causes us to put such high expectations on their person and time. Marriage will not solve your loneliness, as a matter of fact, it will worsen it. So, if you’re with that person because you thought being with them would stop you from being lonely, chances are, you will still be lonely even after marriage. It’s not them, it’s you.
  • To show you are an adult. Afterall that’s what adults do, have relationships.
  • Just because he or she loves you. Better they love you more than you love them.
  • You think you’re running out of options and time
    The fear that no one else would want to be with you is not only a wrong reason but also a selfish reason. In your head you’re probably thinking ‘ah, this one I have found correct someone that likes me, let me do sharp sharp before they change their mind’. It shows that you are aware that you need some work, an unfinished product so why be a burden to someone else instead of working on yourself.
  • For money and social status.
  • Because all your friends have someone and you are tired of having asoebi on your monthly budget.
  • To have someone to “complete” you.
  • You are tired of being single
    In that case, it’s not about the person you are with but anyone who can take away the feeling of being single? NEWSFLASH: some days you will get tired of being married 🙂
  • There is so much pressure to be in a relationship and get married.
  • Your good friend or family did the hookup and you don’t want to let them down.
  • It is time to get married. By whose watch?

You need to evaluate your reasons for wanting to get married. Take a hard look at your motivations before you decide to answer that question. On the flip side, some of the RIGHT reasons for wanting to get married include

  • You are in love with one another and you want to start your life with another.
  • To have a lifetime companion.
  • You both have realistic expectations and shared goals.
  • You are willing to work on yourselves for the progress of each other and the relationship
  • You have found someone who complements you and is your personal cheerleader.
  • You both have spent enough time with each other and there is no pretense.

I wish I had this conversation before I took the plunge a few years back. It would have helped me a whole lot but hey that’s why I’m here now, so you don’t make the same mistakes I made.

In conclusion, take time out to write your list of reasons for wanting to get married. (I did say BYSY was going to be a little guide). You need to be able to answer this question truthfully before we can move on from here. If all of your reasons fall on the wrong side, then I’m sorry the time is not now for you. You need more time to sort out what exactly it is you want from marriage.

Let’s look at you before we look at the other person.

Have you ever thought about why you want to get married ? Do you think you have all the right reasons ? Use the comment box and let’s talk about it.

BEFORE YOU SAY YES

You’ve met a good guy, it’s a whirlwind romance, you love him, he loves you, you think surely nothing could go wrong, I mean there is love and love conquers all, he’s ready to settle down and so are you.

One day, after a wonderful dinner in a well-orchestrated theatrical moment (maybe alone or in front of family and friends and a camera) he pops the question, opens the box of a blinding diamond ring and at that moment your whole life is dependent on your answer. Say yes and begin to plan a union to this person you love for the rest of your life or say No and start all over again with someone else (remember you don’t have that much time on your hands again, the biological clock is ticking e.t.c)

But before you say YES, know this

Love is not enough

It takes a lot more than love to decide who you should spend the rest of your life with. As a matter of fact, you have every right to ask for a few days to think, evaluate the pros and cons of this person before you decide on what your final answer is.

Love is not a feeling

It is a process, from start to finish. My mother often says you don’t know love until you have been through the ups and downs with this person. So you find a friend, someone you respect, who equally respects you and are attracted to and hope for the best.

Love will be tested

Forget all those Instagram posts and women sending a million and one shout-outs to their husbands on a daily basis or posting pictures of gifts and flamboyant events, that’s not what marriage is all about. Marriage is a never-ending school of highs and lows and both parties must be prepared and determined to succeed. Your love will be tested, it will disappear and reappear but it’s all the other factors that decide the success of that ‘love’

Marriage is forever

This is my official disclaimer that I am not an advocate of divorce/separation because marriage is meant to be forever. However, there are extreme cases where it is absolutely necessary for the sake of survival and happiness where walking away is the only option left. It is a lot cheaper to say No to the proposal than to say No in court, so before you say yes think!

Today, I will be starting the Before You Say Yes (BYSY) series, where I will address key topics on what you should evaluate for BEFORE you say I do. These topics are not gender specific, but as a woman, I will draw from my experience and may occasionally lean towards female examples.

Single in Gidi is all about living on purpose which includes dating with a purpose, so see BYSY as a help in purposeful dating (now I am beginning to sound like a preacher). It doesn’t matter if you’ve said Yes already, as long as you’ve not gotten to the altar/registry then there’s still time to evaluate.

That’s it for an introduction, see you next week for the first topic!