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How we grew in love

It’s been 15 years now. We’ve not only been living together as a married couple, but we’ve been growing in love. We continuously are. In fact, we always say we’ve grown passed loving each other, we like each other.

We like each other’s company, personality and outlook on life. We’ve learnt to laugh at each other’s jokes, we can successfully anticipate each other’s responses to certain things and we prefer each other more than anything or anyone on this planet. We understand each other’s silence, laughs and the looks in each other’s eyes. We get each other now.

That we have no individual friends we can hang with away from each other, was an easy – yet unconscious – choice we made from the beginning. We simply made up our minds that we will always turn towards each other for anything in this world. And we will never unnecessarily involve our extended families into our affairs, unless we absolutely have to, because one of us is overtaken with pride and a hardened heart.

However, lots of that liking each other has to do with the fact that we’ve consciously accepted one another as we are, beyond what is generally called “chemistry”. Because things never began like that in our relationship. We’ve had to literally put up with each other.

Putting up with each other means, you have to patiently accept your partner for who they are without seeking to impose changes in their personality. You have to allow your partner to naturally develop into what they were created to be, without your interference. We believe that’s what successful couples do. They don’t depend on their partners for happiness nor do they make such unreasonable demands. They develop an interdependent relationship that is based on the fact that they are content with who they are without the other.

If you understand you are responsible for your own happiness, you’ll love your partner simply for being your partner instead of seeing them as one that has to meet your needs.

One of the biggest downfalls of marriage is the idea that your partner must be different or at least change certain things in order for your relationship to be happy. After all, if they really loved you, they would change for you, right? Wrong! Wanting your partner to change the core of who they are for your happiness is like asking a cat to bark.

We’ve learnt in our own marriage that one of the success factors of any relationship may very well be the unconditional acceptance of your partner for who they are. After all, you’ve already made your choice in wanting to be with them for better or worse.

Here’s a fact we as couples ought to acquaint ourselves with, that at the core of their nature, our partners are unique in their own way. As fully grown people, we are complete
individuals with unique sets of circumstances based on our social, cultural and educational backgrounds. We bring into the relationship our unique beliefs, dogmas and value systems that must be negotiated before the lifetime commitment to one another, and during the course of the relationship.

We have our own unique taste buds, unique thoughts, we uniquely view the world through our own lenses, and we feel differently about issues, circumstances and situations. We differ in our abstract thinking, as well as how we interpret self and the world around us. All of these things are ingredients that have uniquely made us who we are today. Therefore not everything we say or do is wrong or right just because we say it is.

When we, as Mo and Phindi first met, we were attracted to each other precisely because of how different we were. Call it fascination, intrigue or curiosity, it certainly was very attractive.

Sadly though, after one year of marriage, these same differences started to annoy the hoot out of us. In fact, we began to individually think that each of our own unique approaches to life was right and the other one’s were wrong. But it was all internalized and was never initially communicated to the other immediately.

Needless to mention, we silently engaged in what any loving couple would do. We tried to “fix” each other, each one doing their best to get the other to be more like me.

Generally, men and women alike, often try to change their partners.

Someone lied to couples and made us believe that only when our partners think, feel, react and behave the way we do will the relationship be satisfying. But how often does it happen that just because we try to change our partners, our relationship gets worse and worse.

Inevitably, the clash caused by our contest to try to change one another, hits the boiling point of continuous frustration and conflict. We became overly critical of each other, easily
irritable and very impatient. We forget that there’s a reason why opposites attract.

But when we decide to accept one another as we are, and focus on growing a desire to please each other in love, we grow much closer to one another. It’s when you begin to appreciate what your partner appreciates that you begin to be drawn to each other.

Don’t just love one another. Take it a step further. Like one another. Be each other’s best friends.

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