At this point, it is no news that the rate of divorce and separation is on the rise; not just globally, but in Nigeria as well, where these things were once looked down upon, or considered taboo. The reasons for these outcomes range from personal to religious to financial to emotional, even to physical. And it seems like the numbers just keep growing. Perhaps because people (mostly women) are beginning to realize that they can do better, that these unhappy relationships aren’t worth the stress after all, and that this marriage thing really no be by force.
I might be wrong, but it would also seem as though relationships and marriages in our times are getting more and more complicated, and understandably so. The concept of marriage, gender roles and overall family structures have changed over time, and continues to evolve. With these changing dynamics, come changing expectations for our partners and relationships.
From all indications, it also appears that while being diverse and unique to individual situations, these expectations are not necessarily being clearly conveyed to the other parties involved. In other words, in a lot of relationships, people are not fully aware of their partner’s expectations and needs. I assume you would agree that for the most part, inadequate communication and/or the lack of it, is one of the biggest challenges that threaten relationships and marriages. This might be as a result of a mere lack of skills to communicate properly, or the failure to realize the importance of communication in maintaining stable relationships. Whatever the case is, these opinions and expectations do not make it to the attention of the other party. Even if they manage to, they somehow remain unclear and misunderstood.
Over the years, I have made a very obvious and important observation of the discussions we have about love, relationships, marriage, and so on—we mostly have them with our own kind! Essentially, women are having these conversations with fellow women, and guys are doing the same thing. It is funny, and at the same time unfortunate that it is in these moments that the most sincere and insightful opinions, ideas or expectations we have of each other are revealed.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it makes sense that it happens that way, because being of the same sex/gender, we might have very similar opinions, and feel like we can relate better with each other’s experiences. But imagine if there was a way to know and learn more about the “other side” of things. Wouldn’t that make things a lot easier? Well, guess what? There is! And it is quite straightforward. It basically involves doing the same things we’ve been doing, only this time, having these conversations with the other side present and involved.
I think we need to start having more and more of these conversations with each other, in order to gain more insight and perspective on some of these issues, and this way, potentially bridge the divide, and fix the disconnect that still exists in many of our minds. So as women, instead of sharing our likes, dislikes, boundaries, expectations, breaking points, etc. only with other women, perhaps we should start having these conversations with guys as well, and vice versa. And not necessarily with our partners only, but also with other friends and relatives of the opposite sex. Maybe this will help resolve some of the miscommunication issues that often exist, and hopefully lead to much better outcomes in our relationships and marriages.
Although these efforts are already being made, mostly in a public sense, there is still a lot more that can be done in terms of the frequency, intimacy, consciousness, and seriousness of these conversations. Being the love/relationship enthusiast that I am, I spend a lot of my time reading articles and books, as well as watching videos that highlight some of the general differences that might exist between men and women in this regard, or those that at least, offer different perspectives of things. Some of my favorites, which I would like to recommend to anyone interested include: Dolapo Oni’s So You Wanna Get Married (#SoYouWanMarry); EbonyLife TV’s Moments Girl Talk, The Spot, and Men’s Corner (all of which can be found on YouTube), and one of my favorite books in the world—“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by American relationship counselor, lecturer and author, Dr. John Gray.
Episodes of these shows address a broad range of topics such as side-chicking, cheating, dating after 30, “wife material”, domestic violence in marriages, etc., which I am sure many of us wonder and have opinions about. And there is usually an equal representation of male and female guests and opinions, which get bounced off throughout the show. The book on the other hand, does a really good job of pointing out certain general differences between men and women as it relates to the psychology of dating and marriage, citing many examples of the true-life experiences and testimonies of real people.
I cannot tell you how much I have learned from these resources alone. These days, a lot of things I previously did not understand, especially in terms of how guys feel or think or act the way they do, now make a lot more sense. I often look back at some events that occurred in past relationships, and am almost certain that if we had both known some of the things I know now, perhaps we could have avoided a lot of the problems we had.
I have tried on many occasions, to initiate these conversations with some of my male friends, and I will admit that it is quite difficult to achieve. This might be too general a statement, but it seems like they are just not as interested as some women are in such issues, and therefore don’t see the need to be thinking of or having these discussions, at least not with girls. Or maybe, it’s a matter of them not being mentally ready for these topics at this stage of their lives. But we need to keep trying. Ask questions. Start discussions. Share your views, and listen to what the other side has to say, because I strongly believe that there is a lot we can learn from each other about these issues. Also, this way, a lot of our concerns will be addressed, or at least voiced, and hopefully, there will be fewer issues that remain unclear/unknown.
Let us help each other out to fix these problems, and restore the beauty and comfort of love, relationships and marriage to our society 🙂
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