Baby baby, Where did our live go?

As we approach Valentines Day , which is celebrated across the world, there are many people in loveless relationships and marriages. Published data on divorces indicate that the number of granted cases has been fluctuating between 37 098 and 28 924 per annum in the past decade (1999-2008). The distribution of couples divorcing by population group shows that there were more divorces among the African population group compared to the other groups. This is according to Statistics South Africa.

Why is it so difficult for couples to maintain their relationships?

What we don’t know can hurt us. In South Africa, two out of three marriages end in divorce. Wounded children, victims of parental warfare, become wounded adults perpetuating the divorce cycle.

Ironically, school education does not teach us what we value most – how to have and be in healthy love relationships. We are left to figure it out by watching our parents. Yet our parents themselves were trained by their own equally well-intentioned but uninformed caregivers. We are forced to ‘learn on the job’. The majority of us with no mentorship and little educated advice. Culturally we are led to believe that it is the responsibility of a relationship to fulfill us. This unrealistic expectation contributes to romantic relationships falling apart, unable to withstand the pressure. The best relationships are those in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

Optimism and naiveté about our current approach for entering into marriage, as well as conventional beliefs about relationships, is equivalent to ignorance and insanity.  Naiveté about what is required to make successful and sustainable relationships is the cancer of marriage. Learning the language of healthy love is a skill that needs to be learnt. You wouldn’t want financial advice from someone who is broke, don’t follow relationship advice from people who have not created powerful partnerships.

What leads to couples breaking up/divorce?

Very few relationships are based on a mutual interest to help one another become the best versions of themselves. There is little regard, respect and honour for each other. Mostly we are fuelled by our egos, struggling to gain power over our partners. Dynamics swing between behaving carelessly (the one with the power) and carefully (the one without the power) with our partners and less on being caring and considerate. Eventually, we become  emotionally disconnected from our partners and then emotionally divorced. After that, it is just a matter of time before the divorce legally severs the bond.

How best can a couple maintain a healthy relationship?

The only dynamic that contributes and encourages the development of meaningful love is one in which both partners recognize and regard each other as equally vaulable. The dynamic moves from being ‘care-less’ or ‘care-full’ to caring. There needs to be no imbalance in perception of one being better or of greater value than the other. To have a quality relationship you need to be a quality partner, treating your partner with respect and consideration. Ironically, the degree to which you love yourself is the degree to which you able to give and receive love. Loving yourself enough, releasing the expectation that your partner and the relationship is there to fulfill you, and becoming skilled in things like positive and effective communication and other relationship competencies are keys to a healthy relationship.

Quarrelling, is it healthy for a relationship?

Research done at the University of Washington, US, report that couples who do not quarrel are more likely to end in divorce. Marital conflict is normal and healthy. It represents an opportunity to grow closer together if we can learn to fight clean. Quarreling is not the problem, it the way we fight that can have disastrous effects. If I ask a couple what they fought about six months ago, mostly they cannot say. If one of the partners was attacked personally or there was any verbal/physical violence, the memory of the details is remarkable. Fighting dirty leaves wounds that are almost impossible to heal.