Written by Evi Idoghor
If you are a child of the '90s, you probably share my abiding love for sitcoms, which experienced a meteoric rise in popularity at the time. As a young adolescent, I recall eagerly awaiting the time of day when the generator in our home would turn on so that I could watch an episode of The Nanny; Fran's wit and eccentric sense of style always fascinated me. Thanks to Netflix, I can rewatch some of my favorite old shows, like Seinfeld, Frasier, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Friends.
During one episode of Friends, Phoebe found a reasonable man who was interested in a committed relationship with her; his name was Mike. They were so close that they eventually swapped house keys, giving themselves unrestricted access to one another. However, Phoebe's world came crashing down when Mike told her he wasn't interested in tying the knot. She thought she had found the one with whom she would spend the rest of her life. Two people who loved each other but had different ideas of what a committed relationship should be like, were in danger of breaking up because of their conflicting desires.
The majority of people can relate to being in a similar position. Somewhere down the line, like in Phoebe and Mike's situation, one partner learns that the other doesn't want children, doesn't want to work, or doesn't want to get married at all. So, how does one keep from having to deal with this predicament? The answer is simple, share your expectations for the relationship early enough.
One of the many issues that might arise in a relationship is unmet expectations. Even before she meets the boy, the girl has an idea of what she wants from the relationship and he has the same notion. As with any relationship, while having clear expectations and standards are important, communication must be established quickly so that both parties are aware of what they are getting themselves into.
Think about it: when you apply for a job, the company publicizes the job description so you can see exactly what they're looking for. Now, if you get an interview, they will ask you a variety of questions to get to know you and explore the specifics of what they expect from you, and they also inform you to ask questions for clarification purposes. Thus, when you get the job, you both already know what you are getting yourselves into.
Many people are 'getting to know each other,' but without communication. Despite spending so much time together, they know very little about each other. They let the butterflies fluttering around their stomachs carry them away, while they fail to do their homework. How else can you know what's on someone's mind if you don't talk to them or spend time asking the right questions? What's more, how can they know what's on your mind?
Fear is a major reason why people don't ask pertinent questions upon first meeting someone, and this is especially true for women, as I've learned. They worry that if they challenge a potential partner on some issues, that person would lose interest in them. You shouldn't be with someone if the mere fact that you ask them questions or are naturally curious turns them off. In fact, questioning a person is a method to separate the chaff from the wheat. Taking a firm stance and communicating your desires and expectations for a relationship are two important first steps in laying a solid groundwork for your growing romance. In contrast, if you leave things to chance, over time, you'll have to put in more effort to communicate and establish what you want in your relationship, which might feel like pulling teeth.
Thus, you should spend time asking the right questions and communicating your expectations. Ask them about their work ethic, and what milestones they desire to hit. If you are the type of woman who believes that her husband should take care of everything financially in the home, please let that young man know, before he commits himself to a relationship with you. As much as you don’t want any surprises, he also shouldn’t be surprised by your mindset.
If marriage is your priority, find out how soon they want to marry and start having children. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, and if you are thinking about getting married, it is critical that you find out if the person you are interested in dating is on the same page as you. You'll be surprised at how different people's perspectives on marriage are. You should also find out what they think about divorce. Is divorce or separation an option? Is he or she the type of person that will be committed to making their relationship work no matter what?
Some people think that there are many fishes in the sea, so if they begin to experience challenges in their relationship, they easily dip out and find the next one. Truth is, there is no relationship (or marriage) that wouldn’t have challenges. The beauty of a marriage (and relationships) is the willingness of both parties to work together to overcome whatever challenge they might encounter along the way.
A woman might expect her partner to take her on a date every week, and put her on a scavenger hunt to find love notes tucked away just for her. She might want him to flaunt her on social media, and introduce her to his colleagues and friends at work. When none of these happen, she tends to feel unloved and dejected, however, she never communicated to her partner what her expectations were from the start. The man then thinks she is being irrational, and she thinks he doesn’t care so much for her, and then they begin to have problems, because no one discussed anything tangible when they were getting to know each other.
As women, our expectations may have been shaped by Hollywood and celebrity culture, but we need to keep in mind that we are dealing with real people, in real life circumstances, without the presence of cameras demanding our best act. As such, a man wouldn’t come into your life already knowing what he should do to make you happy – you are different from all the other women he has been with. That is why it is important that you communicate what your expectations are.
Finally, when we believe we have found love, we Christians have a tendency to put God on the back burner and head off into the sunset without asking Him for His guidance through prayers. Nevertheless, keep in mind that no matter how many questions you ask, how clearly you lay out your expectations, or how thoroughly you research a potential partner, only God can truly reveal the heart of a person.
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