Why love isn't enough to make your relationship work

By PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, October 30, 2017

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YOUR souls connected immediately, and you can't seem to get enough of each other. But unlike the relationship you always envisioned, your dreams and aspirations don't align. You don't want children, but he does. He wants you to be a stay-at-home mom, but you are career-driven. You are the queen of city life, but he wants to live in a rural community. The list of dissimilarities seems endless. And while you may feel that you can remain devoted to your partner with all these disparities, relationship counsellor Wayne Powell cautions that love alone, in the end, will just not be enough.

“When counsellors meet with premarital couples, we emphasise that although love is the foundation on which the relationship will be built, there are other important building blocks that will support the structure, and without these you won't be able to achieve a happy, healthy relationship,” Powell explained.

He said that before you commit yourself to someone, you must discuss certain standards that support a strong union, quite apart from tender notions of romantic bliss. Below, he shares a few:

Dealing with conflict

It is inevitable for all relationships to have conflict, so you must be able to manage and work through your conflict instead of avoiding it. Avoidance will compromise the health of your relationship and rob you of the opportunity to explore ways in which you can both resolve issues at the centre of the conflict and possibly prevent a repeat in future.

Communication

Communication is important in every relationship. You must make time to communicate with your partner; in fact, it is always wise to keep the lines of communication open. And if you are not in the mood, share this with your partner respectfully, but be sure to address your partner's concerns as soon as you feel up to it.

Goals and aspirations

You must share your individual and mutual goals and decide together how and when they can be accomplished. If you can't agree on important matters for the future, where you see yourself and how you intend to get there, one or both of you will be miserable. This should never be overlooked, and you cannot simply decide to tie the knot without striving to build your marriage on a solid structure.

Roles/responsibilities/expectations

A relationship requires teamwork. You will rely on each other for support and you will need each other's physical, emotional and mental strength to make your relationship work. Therefore, it is important to talk about who does what, and commit to your responsibility. This way there is less room for conflict because you would have already known what your partner can tolerate, what he/she dislikes or likes, and what to expect of each other.

In-laws

You should always aim to love and at the very least respect your in-laws, no matter how difficult this may be. Remember the marriage edict “leave and cleave”. Talk about the non-involvement of family members in your relationship, particularly parents. No matter how good a relationship you have with your family or in-laws, you may want to work things out with an independent party, if necessary.

Finances

Whoever is the better money manager should assume the responsibility of the minister of finance. Also talk about debt, spending practices, investments and all other money-related matters to ensure that you are on the same page, especially if you will be saving in a joint account.

Spiritual life

Your spirituality is very important to your relationship, and this shouldn't be undervalued. Find out what effect your religious beliefs will have on the relationship, especially if you both have diverse views. Remember to respect a person's spiritual views, and never force your spiritual beliefs on them.

Sexuality

As much as you love your partner, sex – good sex, is an important component in every relationship. If there is no sexual chemistry, you need to talk with your partner about this. You should also discuss likes, dislikes, fantasies and frequency, for example. Sex can significantly affect the quality of your relationship.

Boundaries

Boundaries are very important in a relationship. This also relates to your interactions with members of the opposite sex – ex-partners, babymothers/fathers. You must work through these issues, because they can be sources of conflict.

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