To tell the story of happy endings without the struggles and choices that ultimately lead to the happy ending is elusion at another level. To tell the story of loving deeply and believing in the promise of an endless passionate love without appreciating and understanding that young love can be tragic and heart-breaking is deception. And yet as we grow old and grow up, we learn that we cannot avoid exposing ourselves to the tragedy because love is as much a basic need as food, shelter and clothing. While some of us are lucky enough to keep spark of the young love all the way to the alter, most of us go through heartbreaks and tragedies that, even though injure our hearts, mold the same hearts into understanding the dynamics of loving and the routine of selfless love. Of acing the struggles and challenges of our relationships and living together ever after. (Possibly happily). We learn that in love, getting it wrong is part of getting it right…
I was seated somewhere in the middle pews of the church three or so Sundays ago. It was one of Sundays that my presence in the church was more of a duty; because I have grown up in one of those families where missing church was a crime and that said, I am conditioned that on Sundays, I should be in Church at a certain time. My mind was preoccupied with a bit of everything else but the sermon, and quite honestly nothing in particular. But the preacher was not one to lose his congregation’s thoughts to nothing in particular… He, being a man born for orating with natural gusto, preached about relationship crosses in a way that awakened my senses.
So what is your cross? Where is the freckle in your relationship?
Be careful, you are entering a personal struggles zone; and no, I do not know your story. But this is neither a lecture nor a tirade. Just a girl telling a story of one too many. Why? Because most of what seem to be perfect relationships around eventually end up tragically and my nosy self tells me that crosses become too heavy beyond a certain point.
- Competition cross
If it makes you feel any better, jealousy in a relationship is love in competition. We grow up with the misguided advice that if he loves you, he will never make you feel like you are competing with anyone else, and if she loves you, she will choose you over and over again. We like to imagine that we can fight for love but never compete for it. (Well, until competing is the only option you have). Half of the relationships you see around are run by the heat of outdoing your competition (Let’s call it upping your game to retain your position as the chosen one)… and the other half is baking in the oven whose heat is operated by ‘there is someone else I am starting to like/I like or there is someone who wants to get me this or take me here (Followed lightly by the latest african proverb in town, he is just doing it as a friend)…The proverb that she is telling you in a simpler language is that he who dates or marries a beautiful woman and he who plants seeds by the roadside have a common problem, hungry passers by…and there is nothing she can do about it.
But who do we kid. Competition in love is not a problem anymore, it is a way of life. And honestly speaking, the decision to choose one person over everyone else is just as hard for women as it is for men. There is always someone offering more, there is always an easier catch for our men, there is always someone who wants your person, there is always someone else they will notice and want, someone who compensates for what you lack because we both know we lack in one area or another. (And I mean physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally). So unless you are planning to buy a small island for you and yours, (and I know you cannot afford it), pause, catch a breath, adjust your cross on your shoulder and soldier on because this one is stuck with you for life.
- Communication cross
We all, or at least most of us, start off with amazing communication. They care about you, your day and all that you do. You have all the time to respond and even more time to think about what to say next as you wait for their response.
Then amnesia starts kicking in; in small doses. They start taking hours to respond, they start missing calls, they forget plans on purpose. Communication patterns change because you will subconsciously now find yourself starting conversations with ‘You always do this’; you never keep your word’ or what took you so long’ because the struggle to be heard is real. (And by the way, if you notice that someone is avoiding you, never disturb that person… That was me slipping in one of those unsolicited but very important ‘by the ways’ to you who is always finding excuses for being ignored)
This cross is bigger and wider than any other cross because communication is key for every relationship. It is how we express ourselves, settle disputes, connect with each other and expose our utter vulnerability. We want partners who will be there for us to break the best of news and who will listen to us at the lowest of moments. You want to be with people who listen in a way that you want to talk to them; and talk in such a way that you want to listen to them…
- Money cross
This is a small cross, but the small challenge is that it made by a special material that has the ability to expand. It also has a wide range of relatives because you realize that most relationship problems are in one way or another related to the money problems in that house. And well, the availability of money is as much of a problem as the lack of it. What you spend your money on, what you pay for, how you spend your money on your partner (And this one is a big one I know)…and so on. Some of us struggle with where to get money to run the household, and for some reason, these are the partners who try give you the illusion that they make money rain. Illusion because the rain they are talking about is the one that waters the pools of debt that they are swimming in. Then there are those of us whose struggles are about where to use the money that they have. But how would you know such struggles?
- Mixed relationship cross
You are familiar to the small fact that opposites attract. But what you are not familiar with is that this comes with its own challenges. We like to think that our partners make weird choices. But truth is that just because it is weird to you doesn’t make it weird for your partner. Blending two people with totally different backgrounds, upbringing, character and tastes is like a full time job. Add the small talent that women naturally have of trying to fix their men because ‘No, he can’t just be like that, we can’t live like this’…But you know our good lord is the master of ‘mix and match’, so he matches you with one of those military men who believe that things should be done their way, or the highway. You will watch your talent going down to waste in obedient silence. Yeah, even your silence is obedient to your commander in chief.
Truth is, loving someone for who they are, not who they pose to be, not who you think they are, who you want them to be and most importantly, not who you hope that they will turn out to be is the hardest of tasks that ever were.
If you are in a relationship where everything and everyone else is a priority apart from you, this is your type of cross. Small, and pretty much fixable, but with a lot of work. Your partner is a master of excuses. They excel in making plans that always seem to change or they show up with the ‘something came up’ making it impossible for this to work. Sometimes, it feels like creating time for your partner is an absolute bother. But don’t we all have such days? I was just thinking, if you so easily get bored and tired of your job, (Which promises a paycheque at the end of every month) , how much faster can you lose interest in your partner (Who promises you lack of sleep occasionally, costs you some peace of mind with those fights which end with a threat like I am done with you’ or this is the last chance I am giving you *hata hunijui wewe*… )? But because they still bring you happiness and a sense of completeness, you will find your way back…getting tired is just part of it.
Ps. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. But near perfect relationships are made of people who choose each other even when they struggle to like each other. In the end, it is how we dealt with the small crosses that matters, of the moments you chose to stay rather than leave.
***May the lord meet you at your point of need and lighten the cross at its heaviest point.***