1. Don’t allow a relationship to move too fast at the start : According to Dr. James Dobson, relationsh...
1. Don’t allow a relationship to move too fast at the start: According to Dr. James Dobson, relationships that begin in a frenzy tend to burn themselves out. Take things one step at a time early on and invest in truly knowing each other. Give each other space and don’t call the other person non-stop as if your life were an utter mess before you met them. Well, that may be true, but appearing too pushy early on is not ‘cool’. It often puts the other person off and suggests that you are low on self-esteem. More so, it makes the other person to feel strangled…emotionally asphyxiated that they begin to question whether you are worth investing in…whether you are fun enough. A slow and gradual build up will lead to a more mature growth in the relationship and help both individuals come to the conclusion that this is a relationship for them, and not feel like they were rushed or forced into it.
2. Don’t be too quick to reveal your desire to get married: To suggest that you are ready to get married right away and that you think you have found Miss or Mr. Right too soon will scare the other person away. Allow your partner room and time to come to that conclusion on their own terms. People take ownership of something if they feel they have taken part in creating it. When your partner grows into the mindset that you are the one, he/she feels the need to protect what they share with you. Do not project your own conclusions on your partner. Allow them time and space to reach the same conclusion.
3. Don’t be too quick to reveal your weaknesses to your partner: This is not suggesting that you should be dishonest. Eventually, if there are key weaknesses that you feel your partner should know about, by all means let them know, but not too soon. When your partner gets to know and trust you first, they are more likely to see beyond your inadequacies and weaknesses. On the contrary, when you share those weaknesses too soon, you are literally ending a relationship before it starts. You are putting doubt in their head when they have not had time to bond with you or build any form of trust with you. Strong trust and bond are likely to erode whatever weaknesses you may harbor, but you must allow them to germinate and nurture them into a healthy structure before you ‘unleash your dragons’.
4. Respect precedes love: You certainly cannot love someone you don’t respect. Often, deep love emanates from a deep spring of respect and admiration. You must earn that respect and position yourself to earn it in a relationship; otherwise, love will only remain an illusion to you. Don’t stand your partner up waiting for you when you have a date with him/her; use respectful and courteous language when you address them; don’t speak impudently of them behind their back (remember, walls have ears and today they can even fly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes). Speak to and of them as you would want them to speak to and of you.
5. Read between the lines and be patient: Relationships are constantly tested by guarded lovers who like to nibble at the bait before swallowing the hook. Such people like to test the depth of the water before they jump in. They will often withdraw from you deliberately. Some will methodically initiate an unnecessary fight or ignore your calls for long. Some may even flirt carefully with your rival. All the time, they are watching you, asking – “How important am I to you” “What would you do if you lost me?” “How free am I to leave if this happens not to be a relationship for me?” You must exhibit absolute maturity and self-discipline at this stage. Do not grab and beg them to love you. Do not whine and accuse them of negligence and lack of love towards you. Instead, be your normal happy self and enjoy the ride. Your demeanor and disposition through this stage is key to getting him/her falling head-over-heels in love with you – if you handle it right. Otherwise, you will be well on your way out of his or her life.
6. Mind the bumps in the road: Every relationship faces obstacles and challenges, big and small. Even when it seems like both of you are a match made in heaven and in your sleep, you can hear wedding bells ringing, you could wake up the next day to a major relationship trial. Your lover may decide they no longer want you. Comport yourself with the utmost self-dignity and do not become bitter and petty. Treat them with respect; kindly and maturely express your desire to make the relationship work without groveling. Your self-carriage at this point is crucial to winning your lover back. Often, lovers reconcile after such a hiccup and get married afterwards. Do not grovel, throw tantrums like a child or become bitter; calling him/her names and telling whoever cares to listen how terrible your lover is. Handle the bump in the road with adroitness and finesses.
7. Do not depend entirely upon your lover for your emotional satisfaction: Maintain interests and activities outside your romantic relationship. To breathe down your lover’s neck for every of your emotional needs is too much a burden for anybody to carry. Not even you can handle that. Make time for friends and other activities and take some time from your lover every now and again. This will not only breathe fresh life into your relationship, but also keep you two from wanting to ‘choke each other’s throat’.
8. Keep selfishness at bay: When you find out that you are doing all the giving in a relationship, you begin to weigh the worth of that relationship to you. The same goes with your lover. Make time to do things for your lover and make sure that you are contributing as much as he/she is contributing to the relationship. You don’t have to keep scores, but be careful not to do all the receiving. Some people are givers naturally – they give and give until they burn out. At this point, they may wake up one morning and call it quits. Love is a two-way traffic, and not a one-way traffic. Take time to make sure that your lane of that two-way flow is not constantly dry…if ever dry at all.
9. Be mindful of the warning signs: You cannot control what your lover, husband/wife does or will do but don’t be blind to the warning signs that they may be cheating on you. If they show signs of disloyalty, hatefulness, lack of interest in you and outright cruelty towards you, then something is wrong. Try to talk it through with them and not wish it away. A bad marriage is far worse than the loneliest instance of singleness (Dr. James Dobson), so don’t allow the fear of losing them to coerce you into ignoring the warning signs.
10. Do not equate human worth with flawless beauty/handsomeness: According to Dr. Dobson, if you require physical perfection from your partner, they too have the right to demand the same of you, and neither of you can maintain that forever. Don’t let love escape you because of the false values of modern culture. Look beyond physical beauty to the soul of your mate where true beauty shimmers.
11. Have one more look: No matter how thrilling a relationship has been and how much you think the two of you love each other, take time to examine your values and the worth of the relationship with him/her before committing to marriage. Most people have coasted into the realms of marriage based on raw emotions alone and in so doing, they walked into marriage with the wrong expectations. Take a more drastic look at your relationship before you say ‘I do’.
12. Hold it gently: According to Tom T. Hall, “If you hold love too tightly, it’ll die, and if you hold it too loosely, it will fly away.” Extreme dependence on a relationship is toxic to the relationship itself. Enjoy the journey one day at a time and don’t force it. Some days you might wake up loving your mate more and some other days they will wake up loving you more…don’t criticize them of negligence the day you seem to love them more. They still love you, it is just that you are more over the moon today than they do, and it might be their turn tomorrow…or the day after.
13. Freedom: Most people fail to appreciate the essence of freedom in a relationship, especially in marriage. It is important then that we continuously infuse creativity into our relationship. When your mate appears to feel trapped, give them a breathing space. Allow them time and room to work through their rut. Such space allows them to sit back and appreciate who you are; who you have been to them and how much you truly mean to them. It allows them to dig into their reserve for more creative ways to appreciate you. On the contrary, if you nag and grab fiercely at the sign that they are feeling trapped, you push them away. Don’t suffocate your lover. We all need to breathe some fresh air every now and again to be able to breathe some into our relationships. Loving someone else starts with a healthy appreciation of yourself. Confidence is very attractive and charming. Confidently let your lover be themselves so you two can grow into a winning team together!
Adapted from Complete marriage and family: home reference guide by Dr. James Dobson and critically analyzed by Victor Chinoo.
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