“Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness.” “Your wedding day will come and go, but may your love forever grow. “Best wishes on this wonderful journey, as you build your new lives together.”  “May the years ahead be filled with lasting joy.”

These and so many more congratulatory messages are likely to flood in at the exciting news after saying yes! Saying yes to what exactly? No one will ask not even your pre marriage council or at your local church. All the more reason I advice couples to also include couples therapy from a certified therapist. In as much as marriage is spiritual there’s a huge chunk of it that is very physical and warrant equivalent preparation. If you ask me couple therapy is so underrated we’d much rather start calling for help when we face an emergency and I don’t want to believe that couples want to live a life of putting out fires, where’s the fun in that? So here’s a piece on The Garden to help you prep up for when you say yes.

Others will argue that that’s precisely why we date right? To get a look and feel of what we are getting ourselves into? How I wish this was the case but sadly from my observation, we do not seem to utilise our dating period very well. People could date even up to the period of three years or more  and still have no idea what triggers their partner’s rage and how they should even react towards them should they become triggered. Now, this is just one of many examples. It is very important to know the little things like your partner’s favourite colour, cologne, blood type, genetic, favourite meal, etc. But that’s just scratching the surface. Have you ever taken the time to note down your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, to do some research on his/her lineage or family background, have you taken the interest in discovering whether your partner is a lovist or a survivalist, do you know his stand politically, morally, intellectually and just his state of mind on current affairs and issues of national importance? Do you know his/her mental strength , are you aware of his emotional side or even spiritual side? Do you care to understand what it is that is likely to trigger his depression, anxiety or insecurities? Have you figured out how you can help when they’re triggered?  These are some of the real work that needs to take place during dating.

But Lerato, one hardly experiences all these character traits from someone over a short space of time, and I agree. That is not to say people pretend really but rather that some  of our ugly or closet selves usually only come to play when provoked by either a circumstance or a person. We are likely not to easily bring out our messy selves while the going is still good it’s usually the challenges along the way that usually provoke these traits from us and so we display how we handle conflict, how we motivate ourselves during challenging times, how we carry ourselves during the dry seasons  because it’s so  much easier for us to be likable and to also be bubbly when the going is good. Hard times are really what shows a person’s true character , now those are majestic and even though you’re likely to not go through all seasons with your partner before you say yes- you could still pick up a few indicators if you really listen! Learn to pay attention you’ll be surprised how much gets dropped beyond the spoken word. You find the most amazing revelations when you learn to listen & I mean really listen.

Now, after interacting with your partner and learning a few things about them what then? What do you do with your findings? This is also a very vital process of dating- it’s not just about getting to know someone or learning a few things or as much as possible about him/her it’s also what you do with the information. How you apply whatever you have learnt, otherwise then we’ve defeated the whole point of the exercise then if we were just going to discover each other for interest sake and do nothing about our findings. This step in the dating phase is so significant because it’s the one that will define the basis of your relationship going forth that is whether it will continue after this. This step is what will elevate you from just dating to coupling. It takes commitment to have someone’s state of being/ heart in your interest, to be intentional about their wellness. For instance, I love attention and anyone close to me will tell you that quality time is certainly one of my primary love languages and so if we were dating I’d make sure you knew.

Now first scenario:  I dated someone and they were not very attentive, they weren’t listening to me and so they never quite comprehended how important it was for me to have their attention, quality for that matter. I tried to hint, I spoke directly but it fell on deaf ears. I remember the one time I decided to refrain and stop being my extra self and  just watch what he does and ladies and gentlemen before I knew it we were going two days without talking. When we eventually talked I used the opportunity to once again rehash how it’s important for me that we talk everyday I explained the reasons why  and after a tiff-tuff  we seemed to be on the same page. Only for that to resurface again after a few weeks now that’s when I took it seriously because he had the information at his disposal but chose not to apply himself and for me that spoke a lack of commitment, a lack of intent about my happiness and certainly not being interested in my emotions because how do you repeatedly do the very same thing I have been telling you about and highlighting it’s importance to me? Now if you really cared so much about my emotions you would do your best to not trigger me right? Unless for some reason you enjoy the nagging and ranting from me and if that’s the case then clearly I’m dealing with a nutcase that gets a high from my misery.  Now you see how one simple  scenario can reveal about a person, you can easily start seeing the red flags here if you pay attention.

Then another scenario with a different guy this time now this was interesting because he didn’t like text he preferred calls meanwhile I on the other hand don’t like calls but prefer text so it was a little dicey but we liked each other enough to see how it plays out so I had to start warming up to the idea of getting long calls from him once in a while & I remember he once said he had never texted this much in his life but because of me and that really warmed my heart because I knew how it must be frustrating for  him especially with the essays I’d often type but he made sure he attended to every of it and that was such intent from his side. Knowing how I wanted to talk daily especially since we weren’t even on the same continent I appreciated the fact that he would sometimes leave voice notes and I remember on one of the voice notes he actually quotes that I had said I enjoy his voice notes and that’s why he thought of sending one and that said to me he listens yes, he pays attention and that really worked wonders for us at the time, the fact that we were intentional about serving each other’s interests fuelled our amazing energy.

The two scenarios above are a clear example of how one can pick up a lot from just one issue. One simple example is also the popular “ I’ll call you back” and it never happens or happens after two days that is so unreliable or you agree on a time and place and he or she doesn’t show up and ghosts with no explanation only to resurface after the time with an excuse or an “I miss you” or “hi” text- that is unreliable. Now I understand that stuff happens and can mess up with plans but that’s exactly why we communicate if for whatever reason you’re failing at meeting up to our agreement share that information with me by all means  it is called helping me manage my expectations . Also it means you respect my time, you respect me and you care about my emotions.   It says a lot and yes it creates the atmosphere for your relationship going forth imagine being hesitant every time you enter into an agreement with your partner because you have it at the back of your mind that he or she  might not live up to it since s/he has a record of being unreliable? And unfortunately that’s the reality of most folks but we’re trying to change all that. We want you to enjoy happy coupling that is exempt from toxin and we are sharing with you how you can best achieve that.  Do not be afraid to ask difficult questions, listen! And do not be so desperate about your ideal vision for a relationship that you’re only fixated at arriving as opposed to how you’re getting there -so much so that you’re ready look past anything I mean all the red flags skipping the robots because wow we’re in a hurry to say yes. Love is not blind beloved, love sees, infact love notices every thing but decides to love you anyway.

So yes, we love the gymnastics that happen in our bellies and our hearts dancing in cartwheels. It is totally an amazing thing to vibe with someone on matching energies and the skies are aligned darling listen! Stuff made of magic, dreams. Energy will bring us together, it will keep us attracted and interested but it is not enough to sustain a journey of a lifetime I’m afraid. You’d need way more than that to handle conflict, to attain various resolutions or reach amicable solutions. While you do that try not to fall into the trap of saying yes to a futuristic state in other words do not create your scenarios too far ahead. Do not base an important decision today on a bed of what ifs or potential. When you say I do now, say I do to that which you know now.

Whether you choose to say yes to a survivalist or lovist, A dictator or feminist, An employee or entrepreneur , someone with great culinary skills or someone who can’t cook to save her/his life. whether you’re saying yes to a person who wants a big family or one that only wants one or no child, someone who prefers the traditional way of celebrating special days or holidays or just someone who gets the thrill of an adventure. There’s really no general cut for all of us, we are all wired differently and so of course we will have different things the set our souls on fire. What matters here is that in the end you are mindful, sober and fully comprehend what it is you mean when you say yes.

By Lerato Charlotte Letsoso| Email: leratokayise@gmail.com