what do we want in a relationship?

In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, who happens to be a very conventional psychiatrist, she was giving me insights into relationships. This is against the backdrop of recent trends in Ghana that most young women would want men to do ‘everything’ for them. This has been characterized in some adverts lately on the Ghanaian television screens where men are prepared to even stake gamble games and give the benefits or winnings to their female partners.

It is also important to understand what pushes women and men into relationships because of the current unhappy marriages and the high divorce or separation rates that we find in our African societies as prevails in the western world. More relationships are now based on western concepts than being based on the African tenets and moral principles that we grew up with.

First and foremost, men marry reality and women marry potential. A man says “this is what i want” and he marries precisely that or as close to it as he can get.

A woman’s list is fuzzier because she believes that with time, anyone can change so she considers the man not only for the now but also for what he can become in the future not just as in profession but as in personality and his abilities.

Example, a woman meets a man who is a law student and sees that he’s ambitious, career-driven, intelligent, well-spoken, caring and she thinks, “this man will be a great man who may become a big lawyer/judge and will one day have his own corporation or be the head of something.”

On the other hand, a man meets a woman and he thinks, “Her body is banging, she’s nice, great smile, fun personality, smart. This is what i’ve been looking for. Thank God I’ve finally found it”

There are pluses and minuses to both of these

The plus for the man marrying reality is that as a woman, your man loves you just for who you are. He has chosen you because you fit all the criteria for what he is looking for now and believes he will need therefore you can be secure in his love for who you are.
Women have so many self-esteem issues that knowing your man loves you for precisely who you are – warts and all, makes you stronger.

The minus is that if you start to change in a way that he doesn’t understand. Example, you were thick when he married you and now you want to slim down and be a size 8 instead of a size 18, he’s going to be upset because if he wanted a size 8, he would have married one.

With a woman marrying for potential, the plus side is that with her encouragement and support, the man can do so much more than if he were by himself she sees opportunities that he could take and can advise him on how to go about things because she wants what’s best for him. She sees in him what he even cannot always see.
The minus, if she doesn’t know how to convey this to him in a way that makes him open to her then he will see it as nagging. He is bound to think she sees him as inadequate which will hurt him greatly because he loves her in her entirety and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t accept him as he is and reciprocate the gesture.

However it isn’t that she doesn’t love him but that she sees how he could continue to grow and be better just as she sees how she can continue to grow and be better.

However, the key is for both parties to understand these “hidden” aspects of our expectations and then to manage them in a way that blesses and not harms the relationships.

So then I ask the question why some women are so insecure about themselves. I sometimes don’t get it that pretty and intelligent women would worry about some physical flaws that are really not so visible (seemingly only exist in their minds) but they still make a meal out of it.

My friend then gives me an interesting insight into the psyche of African women and all women for that matter which I can relate to. She tells me women are socialized to be critical of themselves and others. “Women are taught to constantly compare ourselves to other women.”

How many of us remember as young children being taken to task for not being like your best friend who was skinny, did more home chores yet still had great grades. Mind you this was even before you were like 10yrs old. Now I wonder how many of us have grown with that competitive strain in our DNA and daily life and happenings and how much this affects our daily life and living it even as adults.

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