By Bunmi Sofola
EVEN if there was a blue print for having a healthy relationship, chances are it wouldn’t work for each individual the same way. A man meets a woman and a relationship develops, and within weeks, you are in seventh heaven.
Your man is the ‘soul mate’ you have always dreamt of—you virtually live in each other’s pockets and you can’t stop pinching yourself on how lucky you are.
Then the relationship starts fraying around the edges—its collapse imminent. When it eventually happens, you bawl, “why me?” Well, when things were going your way and you were as happy as a lark, did you ever stop to ask: “why me?”
Most people ask more from relationships than relationships can deliver. For many of us, they’re the last refuge for redemption, the place we go to be saved. We come across people who are happily married, and it’s like a mystery. Why is this? Because it is so unusual. To be realistic, one has to acknowledge, even a good one involves a great deal of efforts and hinges on how well you can manage frustration. That’s why most of us tend to believe that whether we find a good relationship or not has to do with luck. But does it?
Recent findings have shown that if you want to be one of those people who glide through life, whom everyone calls ‘born lucky’ because things just seem to go right for them all the time, but are already thinking, that could never be me all of the time ‘you’d be better off stopping such thought in its tracks. According to the findings, rather than being something you’re born with, good luck is a quality anyone can acquire.
That there’s a big difference between ‘luck’ and ‘chance.’ Chance covers things that happen without your input such as finding a N 1,000 note on the street. But luck is something you can generate by maximizing every opportunity. So forget leaving your general well-being to fate and start stacking the odds in your favour by virtually taking your destiny in your hands. What do you want out of life and a relationship, and how hard are you going to fight for it? What things can you give up in the process?
The common of the relationship dampeners is when your partner has an affair, the big question here is: can you forgive your partner’s affair? If yes, then how many affairs are you willing to forgive? In the society, as we have it today, affairs are so common place that they almost pale into insignificance in assessing a good marriage.
And it is no thanks to the society being a dominantly polygamous one. Even when you dream of monogamy, friends and relatives seem happy being second, third and fourth wives that they would be the last to have your sympathy when your man strays. The other side of the coin is when you’re third or fourth wife, would it be right to expect any form of faithfulness when the love of your life is entangled with more women than he could cope with?
You can now begin to understand how stressful a simple thing like falling in love can be in this part of the world. Before going into any relationship, be it monogamous or polygamous, you must know to what extent you’re prepared to stretch your loyalty.
There is no relationship without its amount of pain and the pain of betrayal is always as raw as it gets. There are four different emotions you go through which last anything from six hours to six weeks. Take as much time as you need to go through each feeling, you can’t stop them but you will emerge a much stronger person, well able to cope with the reality of your situation.
The first feeling is that of humiliation. “How could this have happened to me?” you raged. Don’t worry, this is common. A few women have confessed that if other men had propositioned them the day they felt betrayed, they would have said yes—simply to get over feeling rejected, and may be get their own back.
You’ll also reach a stage of denial when you want to believe your man hasn’t cheated on you and you want to get back to how things once were because you still love him. But as you begin to realize this is not the case, you will get angry. How could he do this to you when you have put so much into your relationship? Finally, you even feel guilty. Had you behaved differently, would this ever have happened to you?
How to cope: The most important thing is to give yourself time to work through all these different emotions, experts believe. Treat yourself with care; eat well; go for a massage; pamper yourself. Get family and friends to look after you. If you feel strong enough, get anger out of your system by going to the gym. Plot revenge against your partner, but only carry it out in your head, or you’ll regret sinking to his level.
Although you’ll be up and down emotionally in the first couple of months, gradually, you will feel ready to move on with your life. Be patient though, as the length of time this takes is different for everyone. In the mean time, remember what a fantastic person you are—your current betrayal could be just a dress rehearsal for something better. Now that the toxic waste of rejection had been flushed out of your system, you need to move on for the sake of your health. Do you still want the relationship? Does he still want you?
The inability to manage conflict is at the root of most failed relationships. Someone once observed that: “wedding vows should be changed to include ‘I agree to disagree with you for the rest of my life’—unmanaged conflict leads to frustration. Frustration, and disagreement is a sure route to infidelity, which is probably the biggest source of frustration amongst middle class marriages.
The goal at this juncture, is to start talking and keep talking. Read relationship books. Talk with other couples and attend workshops to get therapy if you need it. Show appreciation by telling your mate what you like about him. It could be how he remembered to call your mum on her birthday and followed it up with a present; or the perfect way he kisses you.
Give appropriate criticism, the experts continue. Always include a constructive request for change. Say what you want to say instead of what you don’t want, to share new information with your man. While it’s alright to do so excitedly over the phone with your friend, you shouldn’t forget to keep him up to date on changes in your life.
Instead of bottling up puzzling questions, ask him—otherwise they will grow into huge misunderstandings. So, ask and never assume. Admittedly it’s not easy to talk with someone who doesn’t see the reason why, keep at it, but don’t be aggressive.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to be in touch with your feminine side. Flirt outrageously! Lust is known to work in bizarre ways. If you want to renew your man’s passion for you, slyly capture the eye of another man. Men become more attentive and turned on by their partners when they see them being desired by other men. Take good care of your appearance and wear flattering clothes when you’re out with him.