The very popular Day of Saint Valentine has come and has gone. But the spirit of love should not. I continue to strive to exercise love every day as we all should – easier said than done, but we should try all the same. Love can be such a beautiful thing; love towards family, towards friends, towards significant others, towards SELF, etc. It can also be very broad so for this post; we will focus on love in relationships with significant others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs."
Show of hands if you have ever struggled to accomplish the above? I know I am guilty. I remember when I was single, I was scared of marriage and love itself; I didn’t know what love was. I knew the passage in the scripture above, but I never understood what it meant. One day, I believe it was at church, we were told to replace love with our names, so where it says, “love is patient” I read it, as “Wendy is patient.” Now, things kind of got tricky, because I know Wendy, and I am not patient, I am not that patient at all - ouch. Doing this I was able to see my shortcomings and imperfections.
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I would recommend you give it a try, replace love with your name in the scripture above and enjoy the harsh realities of who you are. Good job, step one has been accomplished. Step two now asks why? Why do we struggle? Yes, we are human, and we are not perfect, but that’s a vague answer. Let’s get real for a bit. There are so many reasons why we go into a relationship that we should not be in or why we struggle to leave one that we know has gotten to its expiration date. The various reasons can be summed up in one word, “selfishness.” This can be detrimental to both partners especially when we don’t know when to let go or why to let go.
The when might be tricky but most of the time the why is simple – YOU DESERVE BETTER, and THEY DESERVE BETTER TOO. When I was dating in college I think I had just one serious relationship) I used to think I was nearly perfect (I had no drama, and I don’t nag, I mean if that is not the definition of perfection, then I don’t know what is).
I thought I was a catch for any guy that would date me. However, like all things in life, the relationship came to an end, and I realized how selfish and immature I was. The point is, being in a relationship with the wrong person is exhausting and can be a struggle. After some years I realized that I didn’t know myself as much as I thought I did – my flaws, my imperfections, my struggles, and inadequacies; I did not honestly know who I was.
STRUGGLE LOVE - STRUGGLE
I think we shoot ourselves in the foot when we expect our significant other to be perfect or the way we want them to be. We have unrealistic hopes and dreams for our relationships, holding on to something that happens only in a fairy-tale world, where just you and your significant other exist. We are unhappy, and we know we can do better, but we just can’t let go.
We are so proud and insecure that we think this person’s physical looks or social class is a priority over being cared for, over kindness, and giving ourselves the best. Their looks or social class, masks their flaws and shortcomings, it masks the unhappiness that we feel in that relationship. We believe we have been with this said person for so long, we have invested so much and it would be impossible to find someone to trust again. Or maybe they are the only person we have been open with, and that we cannot even imagine being with someone else, so we struggle to let go.
Maybe we had a dysfunctional childhood, and we grew up with the wrong conception of relationships, so we think we are not emotionally capable, or unlovable and anyone that shows us an ounce of love, we hold on to, even if there are clear signs of abuse (verbal or physical). Sometimes it’s what we learned from our past relationships.
We judge ourselves for our past, and we think this is something we deserve. Religion might also have a part to play as well, religion although with good intentions sometimes traps us from the truth; we misunderstand what loves is. We confuse abuse for love. Sometimes it’s because we think we can change someone, we can save him or her – this can go on and on.
As much as I sympathize with whatever our “situation” is, there is something fundamentally wrong here. See the truth is No one is THE one; understand that No one is responsible for your happiness, that solely depends on you. They can contribute to your happiness, and they should be necessary complementary pieces, but they are NOT responsible for it and vice-versa.
I remember when I told Tunde (my husband) that I don’t need him to be happy, he was astonished. I had to explain to him that I am happy to be with him and he makes me happy, but I don’t attach my happiness to him (shocking right).
This applies both ways. It is also NOT an excuse to be selfish. NO. STOP. DON’T DO THAT. SERIOUSLY STOP IT. The truth is that if we both keep on striving to be better, we will end up ultimately catering to each other. HOWEVER, WE CANNOT RELY ON EACH OTHER FOR OUR HAPPINESS; WE WILL INEVITABLY STRUGGLE AND BE DISAPPOINTED AT SOME POINT. There are just so many moving parts so many factors, emotions can be fleeting, and we have our unique personalities. Putting that much expectation on someone else is difficult.
However, you can put that expectation on yourself, because you know who you are better than anyone else would. Again, when I say self-love - and I think this is crucial, I do not mean selfishness. Plus, never do anything in extremes. There must be a balance. Nowadays its either you are too independent in your relationship or too dependent and alas this is where most of us fall short.
Phew! Now that we have gotten that slightly uncomfortable section out of the way let’s focus on something a little heartwarming – a potential solution, “SELF-love.” But first, the second greatest commandment:
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STRUGGLE LOVE – SELF
Mark 12:31: The second is this: “Love others as you love yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
MIC DROP! This perspective is sometimes taken for granted and easily misunderstood. There should be a reasonable degree of self-respect, self-worth, and self-love in all of us. This love is about knowing yourself, what YOU are capable of, YOUR flaws, what YOU want, what YOU have to offer in any relationship. This is an essential point because the more one knows oneself, the better one can be. And the better one becomes, the more successful a relationship with someone else will be.
After my one real relationship in college, I decided to stop dating and got to know myself - build my relationship with God while I was single. Don’t get me wrong I went on a few dates here and there, but I tell you, that search for th