BY J E SOLOMON
Relationships are all about uniting to establish a common future that meets the aspirations of those involved. Marriage for instance requires mutual goal setting and a planned approach towards that future. However, if it becomes a matter of “each one for himself/herself and God for us all” affair, then such a union will not meet the set goal. Sooner than later, it will fall apart.
Anyone in a relationship of that sort, who’s hoping that something good will come out of it, is behaving like the habitual gambler. Instead of mobilizing their earnings and starting something worthwhile, the habitual gambler will continue to squander his/her money on chance games and risky bets hoping some day to hit the Jackpot. There’s nothing wrong with having high hopes. It’s okay, but hopes alone without any effort to make positive changes will not bring good results.
In every unstable relationship, one thing is clear. There’s little or no cooperation between the two partners. Usually there’s tension, disharmony and suspicion. Once in a while one or both partners may overreact to ordinary events just out of frustration. The anger and bitterness that go with such reactions may linger for some time. This could lead to more stress and anxiety. Effective communication breaks down. Trust, a key ingredient to success in all relationships will always be missing. Continued frustration, emotional stress and sometimes even resentment, begin to take their toll on the overall health of both partners.
When people of different backgrounds and inclinations decide to stick together for the rest of their lives, it can pose enormous challenges. However, it can be much easier if both parties set mutually agreed goals and the methods to achieve their goals. It requires a common effort to give, and to take. There should be a preparedness to step out of one’s comfort zone. You may not like reggae or highlife music, but that shouldn’t let you walk out on your partner during an open floor dance at a party. I have seen this happen many times.
Relationship can be exciting. It doesn’t have to be stressful. To begin with, there should be honesty, openness, the need for cooperation and willingness to compromise. Pride, the greatest enemy of any relationship, should be shunned. Another enemy of a harmonious relationship is deep-seated stubbornness. It’s the kind of pig-headed attitude that makes some people stick to irrational ideas that don’t work. There’s this popular saying that, two heads are better than one. Sadly, some people just can’t get it in their heads. They refuse to accept simple, harmless and result-producing alternatives. And they often wonder why their marriage is always bedeviled with problems.
It’s very important to realize that nothing in life is permanent. Everything is bound to change some time. Climates and vegetations change. Our own bodies continually go through changes. Similarly our thoughts and feelings also change from time to time. The things we thought were so important to us some time in the past may later become meaningless. We may find ourselves leaning towards something we previously never paid attention to. And when that happens, it should be easy for us to be honest about it and not be cocky.
The wife of a close friend of mine used to criticize married Christian women in particular who wore tight clothes that outlined their curvature, and tops that literally expose their cleavage. She often made unkind remarks about other women’s style of dressing. The husband tried to talk her out of such pettiness, but she wouldn’t budge. She once seized the dress of her daughter because she considered it “unchristian”. And she made a lot of enemies as a result of her bigotry. Many years later, she’s now dressing fashionably like the women she once resented. If only she had been open-minded enough to understand the dress preference of other women back then, she wouldn’t have made enemies for herself. She also wouldn’t have brought shame to her family.
Arguments and dissenting views are a normal part of all relationships. Criticisms sometimes bring the best out of bad situations. Honest self-appraisal and a willingness to admit mistakes go a long way to ensure peace and continued affection for each other. Anything other than that will lead to stress and its attendant health problems.