#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.

#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?

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.