Relationships are under Attack from all angles and the problems they encounter are Legion! I was musing somewhere last week and it suddenly dawned on me how I could help! I decided to compile a list of some hard and fast rules to letting your love last. I know how hard some people work for it while some others sail quite effortlessly into good relationships with great people, either to take due advantage of the situation or to squander it – based on personal tendencies and whims.
So here’s My List of 12 ways to Secure your Love:
- Don’t make any noise about it. It’s no one else’s business anyway, is it? So you decided to go out with Fred instead of Francis – there’s really no reason to publicise your new relationship, least of all on Facebook! There has been no research linking the number of likes you get on “Adwoa ****** is now in a relationship with Fred ******” to the security of your relationship from wagging tongues and thirsty girls. Prying eyes and itchy ears will only put more stress on your relationship – don’t let them.
- Don’t talk about your inamorato/inamorata with anyone else, no matter what your issues with them are. Not everyone is happy for you and will applaud your choices anyway. You also never really know who wishes you well and who instead is secretly gleeful at your difficulties. Always talk your problems out with each other alone.
- Actively do things for each other. Gentlemen, open the door for your ladies. Call her daily. Drop some cash even without her asking – beautiful hairstyles and fashionable outfits don’t just occur spontaneously, you know? Ladies, don’t shy away from exhibiting some culinary or home-making skills. Theory will only get you so far without some hard core proof of your abilities. Put your money where your mouth is sometimes so he at least has some idea what he stands to gain with you.
- Renew and prepare your minds positively to embrace your potential in-laws. In-laws receive too much negative publicity for baseless reasons so oftentimes you enter relationships (and later on marriages) with expectations of undue meddling and attempts at influencing your spouse by their family – mothers mostly tend to be the main suspects here. They say if you walk through life with a hammer, soon everything starts to look like a nail – you very well could be seeing problems where there never were, or even could be in your relationship –> Genevieve couldn’t quite put her finger on the reason why she always put up a cold front towards Jerry’s mother ever since they got married. In all honesty, the woman seemed to be just trying to help out after Cece’s birth when her own mother could not make it that first week. She just couldn’t unwind around the wiry woman who always seemed to be in motion, cleaning up or cooking or washing anything she deemed to have failed to meet her high standards…almost as if she was marking Genevieve’s efforts down! She couldn’t wait for Mamaa to arrive tomorrow so she could let the mask of strained smiles slip at last – the stress of pretence was becoming too strenuous.
- Reveal all your past stories and secrets to your partner. Don’t let any misdeed from your past surface at the worst possible time, dragging in its wake trust issues and hidden insecurities that may gleefully damage your relationship irrevocably –> Elvis was in a daze. He’d just received an anonymous phone call informing him that the reason why Ewurabena had not conceived in the past 5 years of their wedded life was due to complications from the 3 abortions she had in her early 20s. The clock chimed 3 times as he felt a chill drain down his body that had nothing to do with the cool dawn air that breezed through the windows. She lay asleep next to him as he felt a strange emotion erupt in him for the first time ever towards his picture-perfect lead-singer-in-the-church-choir wife: revulsion.
- Don’t marry a rich person. Everyone knows that to be rich in our society, more often than not, implies a certain measure of pride. Coming into a relationship as the less financially sufficient one is generally not really a problem, but to have an overtly rich person as your boyfriend or girlfriend even has its own challenges –> Take Evelyn who got married to Henry last year for instance – his family footed the bill of the wedding and ever since then his father, mother and sister have found creative ways of reminding her of said assistance. “I’m so glad we were able to afford Kojo Antwi’s performance at the reception – it wouldn’t have been as fun otherwise, don’t you think?”; “Buffet at $75.00 a head?! I didn’t know Kempinski would be so cheap after all!”; “I didn’t know your father would be coming in his 2011 Corolla S – I would have made one of the AMGs available to drive him and your mother around o.” The latest issue was his mother’s insistence that she let the hairdresser come to their house to braid her hair instead of her walking to the saloon only 5 minutes away…and when she complained to Henry about the meddling he replied – only half-jokingly – “But you too, if God has smiled on you in your life now, won’t you openly enjoy His gifts to make Him know you appreciate them?!”
- Love is not a secret – let other people know –> Abena was so frustrated when she told her roommates that she had a boyfriend now almost 6 months into the affair of her life, but they only laughed in her face in condescension. She thought that was the biggest of her problems but had to quickly reorder her challenges when Christopher started coming up with the most convenient excuses not to meet her friends, or even be seen in public with her. It all came to a head when her course mate came across a sneaked photograph of him sleeping on her phone and asked, “Ah, are you that close to Abbie’s boyfriend Chris?” Let other people know for your own safety!
- Jane’s parents were horrified to find out that their little girl had been emotionally abused by her boyfriend Eric ever since he’d proceeded abroad to read his Masters’ program in Canada a year prior. They only found that out when Mr. Kwashie, her father, chanced upon a Skype conversation between them and overheard the vituperations Eric heaped upon her, even going as far as to allege that she had been conducting an illicit affair with her boss at the Secretariat. She had been so independent-minded with the belief that whatever problem she had in her relationship was not to be shared with anybody outside it and it was just about her and her inamorato. If she had spoken to someone earlier about the problems in her relationship, maybe she wouldn’t have had to suffer alone through such abuse, thinking that it was ‘normal’ and ‘everyone had their own cross to bear’. Always talk with people so they can help you out – no man is an island, you cannot do it alone.
- Don’t be Father Christmas or Mother Hen! You’re not supposed to provide for someone in a relationship – you’re someone’s child yourself, how do you expect to provide for someone else?? If your intended realises that you are providing every day – food, money, housekeeping – what do you think will happen the day you are not able to do so? –> It reminds me of a story about a young man whose car was repossessed due to a deal his dad made that went wrong. When his posh girlfriend heard of the embarrassing incident, she quickly advised herself and when he showed up that evening in a taxi to take her out as scheduled, she walked past him straight into the front passenger’s seat of a sleek Audi A7 that sped off, leaving him in shock!
- Be wary of your potential in-laws! –> Kyerewaa wished someone had told her that bit of advice in the early days of her relationship with Cornelius. His mother and sisters were so sweet that she closed her ears completely to cautionary tales of relationships with people who went out with men from there. It was only when she came back from a month’s workshop/outreach hoping to patch up things with him after a small misunderstanding between them that she remembered the numerous stories too late. He’d wanted her to stay and handle some work for him instead of going for the workshop but she’d insisted that she needed the training in order to advance at the Agency. She’d come back to find a nubile young woman installed at Cornelius’ home – a fresh import from his village under the auspices of his mother! She had found a ‘respectful young woman who knew her place’ – which was how she put it – for her son at last.
- The house never felt so empty. Scant seconds before, Lamile had packed her few belongings that she’d pre-emptively moved into what was supposed to be their new apartment together just weeks before into her Nissan Rogue and driven off. He’d finally worked up the nerve to tell her about the one night stand he’d had with her best friend 5 years ago. They’d had a rocky start then and things had been particularly strained then…one thing had led to another one night as he sat chatting with Afi and ‘things’ happened. He’d carried that particular heavy burden for years as their relationship grew stronger, though by mutual silent agreement, neither Afi nor him ever referred to the incident or told Lamile about it. Until now, that is… “I suspected something like that but I didn’t find any proof so I let it go. I wish I didn’t know that that happened” she’d said through tearing eyes. He’d just felt that stepping into a new phase of life with her, he’d rather that everything in his past be laid bare so he could have a clear conscience upon which to build a foundation of Trust. That thought sounded so naïve now… secrets are secret for a reason – never tell it all.
- Never marry a poor person! People say dabi dabi ebeye yie* is better than aben dada** but the truth is that it comes with its own peculiar brand of pain when you marry someone who is not at least comfortable in life. They either infect you with their miserly spirit, make you feel bad for entertaining some pleasures they deem exorbitant (like Silverbird movies on weekends with popcorn AND a Coke!), or exhibit some misplaced pride that equates financial hardship to modesty/humility, even going as far as to turn down assistance because “I don’t take charity.” –> There’s a woman who’s been married for 15 years now who has never shared the true state of her finances with her husband, choosing instead to present a quarter or much less of her earnings as her total income monthly. She only uses some of her reserve for dire emergencies, claiming them as ‘loans’ from friends when the going gets too tough and a ‘miracle’ is needed. Her husband has always prided himself as being the son of a shoemaker from the village and as such considers his success as a low-tier clerk enough to show progress in life. No amount of cajoling or reasoning succeeded in convincing him to add some other courses to his knowledge base so he could beef up his CV and rise in his field of operation. Knowing him too, he wouldn’t take too kindly to his wife making such an amount of money monthly, just from trading in cloth. He knew her stall in the Central Market, but he would never be shown to the 5 others dotted all around the city – his fragile poor man’s ego couldn’t handle it.
Okay, okay, if you’ve been reading all I’ve written so far, your rising suspicion that Tele is messing with you is kind of true 😉 ‘Elephant you, elephant me; Different you, different me’ is really the order of the day when it comes to relationships and proper conduct in matters concerning the ‘L’ word.
Some scenarios may sound the same, but as long as it’s a different set of individuals the solution is more often than not unique to that couple. Sometimes advice from older couples does enlighten the younger couple facing a challenge, but it’s almost never a one-size-fits-all arrangement.
The good news, however, is that in the Words of the Good Book, specifically Matthew 22:36-40, a Divine Answer that ends the whole matter can be found:
37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ 38-39 This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’
You can, and should, take solace in the certainty that there’s NO WAY in the least that someone who really loves God will fail to love you in a manner approved by Him whether he is rich/poor, whether his mom loves you or not, whether she knows your secrets or not, whether you both talk matters over together or not, or whether you are Generosity Incarnate or Chisel incorporated indeed!
*dabi dabi ebeye yie – to wit “someday it wil be well” – a colloquial expression for being in a relationship with someone with hopes to be better off someday in the future
**aben dada – to wit “it’s already prepared” – another colloquial expression for being in a relationship with someone who is already better off financially