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Monday, March 20, 2023

Soul searching and seeking the right partner

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We will always tend to group issues together to allow more elaborate discussions and to enable people, both men and women learn about self, understand each other and obtain additional information for each other. There are many similar letters concerning relationships. The above correspondence is about choice of a relationship, engagement and commitment. There are a couple of letters written by both males and females and so we intend to engage in discussions on the matter to allow in-depth interpretation. This is even so significant for those seeking commitment.

A spouse is someone with whom you will spend a lot of time. Therefore, she or he is a very important person and a close friend. Friendship is a process. From the time you meet, develop a liking for each other, date each other, get engaged and eventually get enjoined in marriage. You need to form a connection with each other, and this should be deep enough to sustain your relationship. Some people are mesmerised and get swept away by the roller coaster of hugs, kisses, money, gifts and romance. They end up lost in lust and infatuation that they confuse for love. When the pressure to love is so much, many people are convinced they have found the right partner and engage in the relationship.

A spouse is someone with who you will spend a lot of time together. Therefore, a relationship should be clear right from the onset.

Yes, it is true that a relationship should be clearly defined right from the onset. People get into a relationship to find out where it will lead to or to see if she or he is Mr. or Mrs. Right, while many others, ‘not sure what I want’, get highly disappointed and in turn frustrate self and their partner. Do not settle just for anyone or any relationship, or in other instances not so great a spouse. This is because as we will keep saying time and again, a relationship is a commitment; you are either in a relationship or you are not. Do not settle for just a relationship, or to simply get attached to someone as a spouse without clear justification.

The question is, what trend of relationship are you in? You may be in a committed relationship leading to engagement and marriage, family and future together, or your friendship may be casual, friendly and fun seeking. Again, you see, this has to be clear. If you are seeking a life-long partner, this must be a resolved decision and it must be paramount, not a, ‘by the way, in case I get someone definite I will decide or go ahead’. Relationship is sincere and a resolution, not ‘an opportunity presented itself and I took it.’ Also, figure out your goals in life and discuss them. Ensure you understand your emotions as well as your preferences.

Decision making: Wife or wolf, Back or bark

A major part of the problems that we encounter in our relationships is about the decisions we make, or fail to make, including our choice of partner. Everyone enters into a relationship with certain expectations. Identify your expectations as well as your mate’s. You must then evaluate whether you and your partner have similar or diverse expectations. You should be honest and genuine as well. Thus, you and your partner must be rational and reasonable.

From the onset, you and your partner have to pick each other, or forfeit one another in favour of someone else, or to be alone. Decision-making is both a process and an event. This is because (a) it involves various considerations, and (b) it also takes time. Therefore, you have to conduct an assessment of your partner as well as evaluate the relationship.

In the above cases (and certainly many others) it is not clear whether the couples are engaged, living together or married. This is despite the fact that they have known each other for two, or more years. Some people will be quick to ask for how long they should be engaged. By getting engaged, you pledge loyalty to the person you love. Engagement is therefore an assurance of a commitment; it is not about having fun, trying out or having several meetings. But again, you cannot be engaged and yet unsure of your commitment and devotion to the relationship because this is paradoxical; it is like getting a loan from a bank and hoping to walk away. Yes, you will walk away happily but there is the loan repayment.

Again, the problem stretches from the time you meet and can continue for a long time. You must meet and talk, discuss your issues and define your relationship. Some people may seek out your company when they are alone and lonely but not because they cherish your friendship. Other people are selfish, preoccupied with self and thus seek an admirer. These are the ‘use and dump’ type, they are ever busy when you want them or their phone is ever engaged; you don’t call them, they call you. In such a scenario, you are simply a sitting duck! Instead, seek a genuine relationship that comes hedged with love, lots of love.

A clear lack of definition of a relationship leads to inner frustrations and pain. One may be highly disappointed as they feel helpless, yet this can be clearly avoided by defining your relationship.

Be honest and straightforward in your relationship. Your response (and that of your partner in reciprocating your reaction) is to back up the relationship or pull out. This is because you must be able to tell whether your partner backs up your relationship or barks when you mention it. For the man, you must be able to tell if you have a wife or you are seeing a wolf and for the lady a man or a monster. Many people are inadvertently tempted to think that the relationship will ‘somehow work itself out’. Not really, a relationship needs to be worked out. This requires effort, patience and understanding.

A happy fulfilled relationship leads to contentment. This is because the partners define their roles and the issues are not stifling, but edifice the relationship.

Among the many letters we have received are ladies who have found themselves pregnant with a partner who they are not sure about, and men who have made a lady pregnant yet they cannot confirm if they are responsible nor do they know what to do. The worst is that many of these people were not prepared for such an eventuality and honestly do not know what next. This is a problem that seems to be perpetuated by both of you assuming ‘our relationship is ok’.

Let me pose the question, what is ‘ok’ in a relationship? A relationship requires a definition. That definition requires further understanding of yourself, your partner and — you guessed it — ultimately your relationship. This is where many people get it wrong. They assume that a relationship makes that out, that ‘love grows’. Yes, love grows and a relationship builds up. But the reality is, love is watered by people in love and relationships are built up. We must learn to work out on relationships so that the love results come from our heart.  This way, we will find diligent meaningful relationship in our lives`.

My love my choice …

Partners have different personalities. There will be similarities as well as obvious differences. However, the best of relationships thrives because partners define their values. This establishes a mutual understanding of basic values. You also trust each other. In the end, the two of you make various decisions about various things. For example, you decide to develop a relationship with your partner or cease the friendship. This is one of the foremost core decisions that must be made from the onset. You cannot keep hibernating or postponing such a critical decision. There are other issues, like expressing your anger, joys, doubts and fears, expectations and other pertinent concerns that arise in the ensuring relationship. A relationship also involves several people. There are issues to be discussed and resolved as well as aspects of disappointment and disagreement. Conflict management is part of relationship building.

You must sincerely ask and faithfully answer the question as to the kind of relationship (and hence marriage) you desire and look forward to.

When you seek a relationship, the first thing is to get back to the drawing board and search for what you want. Secondly, seek out who you want. Thirdly, let your partner decide what they want. Fourthly, decide what both of you want. If you are compatible and if most of these are satisfactory, go on to the fifth stage and discuss about yourselves. In all cases, make rational decisions on your relationship based on informed choices coming out of the above.

Get adequate time with your partner and discuss about yourselves and your relationship (personality, goals, aspirations and future plans). Both of you should discuss who you are. In addition, explain what you want in a relationship, and what you would like from your partner. Then, let your partner also state their preferences and what they would like from you. You and your partners’ issues are the features that define your relationship and any commitments such as marriage. These issues should then keep you clearly focused towards making your decision. Therefore, you must similarly define them and identify them in your relationship and anticipated marriage union. It may not be possible to resolve all of them, but it must be possible to foresee a future together. If there are major issues highlighted, this should inevitably force you to act in a reasonable way. You must be truthful to yourself and your partner and fair to the proposed association.

Marriage and family

Marriage is a gift you give to yourself first, then to your partner. That the two of you can go through so many life challenges and still find each other is significant in that each of you fulfils an aspect in the other. You must know what you want in a relationship before you start thinking about marriage. Marriage must flow from your meeting, friendship, engagement and the future that you and your partner desire. Thus, you must sincerely ask and faithfully answer the question as to the kind of relationship (and hence marriage) you desire and look forward to. Subsequently, let the two of you agree whether you have a future together based on several considerations such as your personality, ambitions and future aspirations.

Marriage is a gift you give to yourself first, then to your partner. That the two of you can go through so many life challenges and still find each other is significant in that each of you fulfils an aspect in the other.

Be very careful as none of us is perfect. You just need to seek out for each other, strengthen one another and work out your relationship together. Try not to ‘fix’ or change your partner to be what you dreamt of a spouse or partner. Instead, accommodate each other. Then, agree on your commitment for each other and to your relationship based on both your terms. If you are seeking marriage, find out if your partner has a similar or related goal. It is alright to give each other time to sort yourselves out. Any past histories and issues to be sorted should be discussed and agreed upon so that there will be no surprises in future. Then, come together again and find out what the future means for the two of you. If you have difficulty, it is good to seek out the services of a counsellor, including g a specialist in relationships if need arises. After all, we are all unique and that is what makes us who we are.

In the end, seek a thriving relationship because you deserve it with a wonderful spouse, and just as well be fantastic in love.

We have a Panel of experts in Counselling and Psychology who examine all the letters and issues presented by our readers. The advice provided in this column takes cognisance various aspects of Psychology including Personality, Social and Developmental Psychology, as well as Applied and Positive Psychology. Write to: The editor, P.O. Box 31229 00600 Nairobi Talk to a Fred, P.O. Box 31229 00600 Nairobi theditor@thecounsellor.co.ke, talktoafred@thecounsellor.aco.ke,
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Dr. Geoffrey Wangohttps://counsel-lingmagazine.co.ke/
Many people often ask me about my personal stand, my passion in life and how I got into Counselling Psychology and why in particular the establishment and writing in their favourite publication, The Counsel-ling Magazine. Colleagues and students, participants in various seminars and others suggested that I should include some information that would assist clients, practitioners and students to perhaps establish a career, or even assess and evaluate their ethical, moral and professional standards. Well, this allows for personal reflection and I feel it wise to include a few remarks about my fervour on counselling, mentoring and education as well as various aspects of life.
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