I listened to them in surprise. So many years later with adult children and grandchildren, you could see they truly loved being together. She served him with delight and teased him endlessly and he sat there watching her with a quiet smile and a cheeky jibe every so often. I can imagine her feisty in her youth, flitting around the room meeting people then coming to stand next to this tall calm gentle soul of a man. They were and still are, people of strong values and their children have connected to and absorbed these values.
I wondered if my generation would have the opportunity to have such strong relationships. It seemed more the exception than the rule to have a fulfilling relationship. What I see is 8 out of 10 people are unhappy or in very challenging relationships. Our children are picking on our inner vibes and acting out in ways we never did or even know were possible.
Additionally, work is increasing daily because of the current situation global pandemic. and just life in general.
In response, we need to adjust as needed. Could it be that we must find ways to deal with the challenges of life? What could we do? Why do we need new ways? We have borrowed a lot from our parents play book and it is not working. It is increasingly difficult for families to live off one income but that is the play many mothers give their daughters. Sons are inadequately prepared to deal with life and empowered women, so they are struggling to keep things afloat mentally, psychologically, socially, etc. They are also unaware of the girls expectations and this causes friction.
The weight of this realisation is not heavy. I have more questions than answers including but not limited to:
- What is causing all the discontent in our lives?
- When did things get this hard for so many people?
- How come we are not willing to deal with matters decisively?
- Why cant so many just take responsibility for their lives?
I have sat with many young people, who wonder why life is so hard when they grow up. They had assumed that being an adult is living the life without restrictions but alas. One young man asked me why girls seem to do better than them. After a long pause I realised it is because we teach girls many more things about surviving and thriving that we teach the boys. It does not matter that our culture in Afrika is largely patrilineal, no amount of focus on access to education for boys will change the world if they aren’t taught to live with the girls.
How do we build solid relationships?
We must take a leaf from the selflessness of Christ and care for people because they are people created by God. We must understand the space each one occupies and build them to become more and stronger. If we want our relationships (whether in marriage, family, or friends) to thrive and bring us joy, we must learn to be committed to them for the long haul.
No friendship is built without disagreement or sacrifice. No one can say they are close and have never had a difference of opinion. It is also impossible that one person is the cause of the problems all the time so each one must own their part of the drama or smoothness. One common reality I have come across is the refusal to take responsibility for our actions and this makes relationships harder to maintain.
We all need to be accountable.
If I was rude to someone, I should apologise and stop the nonsense of I was provoked. If my child is mistreating someone’s daughter or son, as a mother I must call him or her to account and not defend him or her for my image. If my co worker is taking on too much to help others to the detriment of their work, I must call them out an help them learn harmony. I can choose to leave toxic environments even if others have lived with similar toxicity for decades and generations.
We must refuse to accept lower standards of relationships just because our fore parents remained. We must refuse to propagate stereotypes that our fore parents have propagated and challenge them in public. We must challenge the thought that we know people well and find out how they live, thrive or implode in different situations.
I am not the person you knew six months ago.
If that is true then stop defending your brother, sister, friend, parent, or anyone else based on their behaviour from childhood. Things change and you will not always know the realities of the life the person in their home lives with. It is important to commit to daily growth and to challenge others to change and become the best they can be.
What do you need to challenge within yourself to be more content in life? What leeway do you need to give others to find harmony? Who do you need to see less, walk away from or call out to move on in life? What is your greatest source of relationship stress and how do you let go? Who is your greatest source of relational strength and how do you connect to them more?
Life is not rocket science…it is a series of deliberate choices.