By Somaya Desouky
It’s so fascinating how people congratulate new mums and dads with: “wish you see him the best groom/ wish you see her a beautiful bride”, which conditions us to see marriage as the main goal of life since the day we’re born. Nevertheless, as generations pass by, finding a suitable partner that would really mean home became more complex and complicated. Unlike our parents’ generation, where marriage was perceived to be much easier and simpler in a way. The issue may be about expectations, ask yourself “what do you expect your future partner to look like?” Wealthy? Muscular? Decent? Loving? Perfect? Well, social media became a tool that elevates all our expectations in every sector of our lives. It gave us the opportunity to compare our lives to other people, either they were our closest friends or they were celebrities. Also, the attention we’ve been getting on the avoidance of toxic relationships and the search of healthy ones’ misled people. As a result, each person started searching for a perfect partner, with no setbacks. We’re searching for an angel, not a human-being that would continue life with us. Acknowledging that all relationships are imperfect is the key to winning a life-time partner!
Are you ready?
A healthy, successful partnership should be looked at as a growth process, which means that relationship and love grow gradually by time. This means that you need to exert effort, just like anything in life. You can’t just sit down and wait for love to knock on your door, you’ll need to work on yourself and build the best version of you in order to help build the healthy partnership. Partners looking at love as growth process bond together gradually with low expectations and more capability to manage together longer distances. For this reason, you need to ask yourself are you ready for marriage, with all its responsibilities. Do you have the potential to learn how to love your partner? Because, each one of us has a different love language, so you’ll need to learn how to love your partner in the way they want. Therefore, look at your everyday schedule and see if you have the space and energy to start off a marriage relationship (Quilliam, 2016).
Are you mature enough for this step? Maturity means loving yourself and knowing you’re worth it. You would not be able to build any healthy relationship without self-love, because people who are not able to love themselves depend on other people to make them feel that they deserve love, which is impossible (Quilliam, 2016). As Complementary theory of love explains that love originates from a feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself or one’s life circumstances. Therefore, we get attracted to partners, who carry characteristics we wished to have in ourselves or perfect partners who would save us from life’s disappointments. By time we discover that we’re the only ones, who are able to save ourselves and know that perfection is just an illusion (Mathes& Moore, 2010). Consequently, self-love must come from within you and regardless of how much your partner loves you, you won’t believe their love because you think you’re not worthy of it. Therefore, you need to eliminate the harsh self-critic in yourself and treat yourself with compassion in order to be able to start a healthy partnership.
Another main criterion for evaluating your readiness for marriage is the satisfaction of your needs. One of the main problems of partnerships is making the partnership your whole life and depending on the relationship to fulfill all your needs. Remember partnerships cannot fulfill you spiritually. Partnerships cannot replace your friends, family, and all other parts of your life. You have to maintain a strong relationship with Allah in order to be fulfilled spiritually and maintain a relationship with your friends weekly to fulfill your social needs, leading to a stable relationship with your partner, which is not fully depended on. In other words, giving each sector of your life its space is essential (Boyce, 2012). Your full dependence on your partner will not only be unfulfilling, but also it may lead to emotional fusion. As there is a theory stating that a lack of differentiation of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in families lead to emotional fusion. In other words, any relationship with two people highly dependent on each other may lead to an inability to feel, think or even behave independently, making you unable to differentiate your identity from the other person’s. Therefore, leading to depression, anxiety, inability to cope, and other issues (Chesson, 2023).
Wishlist & Dealbreakers:
We’re always told: “love is blind”, in fact this is because when we’re overwhelmed with strong emotions, such as anger or love, we tend to take illogical decisions and our perceptions become incomplete. During the “roller coaster” of love, the subconscious is the one leading the process and the subconscious is just like a baby, where it doesn’t analyze, reflect, or even think. That’s why in those moments, we need to stop our immediate reactions, which are ridden by overwhelming emotions. Just like when a girl is in a real toxic relationship and everyone around her is telling her to stop the relationship, but the girl is not taking time to reflect and therefore taking all decisions through her subconscious.
That’s why: writing one’s wish-list and dealbreakers is essential. It gives you the main criteria that guides you when taking decisions. However, wish-lists should acknowledge the imperfection of your future partner, so put in mind that partnerships are about mutual compromising, where you’ll have to give up somethings. So, try not to concentrate in tiny details that may divert your attention from significant things.
The Dealbreakers sheet is where you write down the things or characteristics that are unacceptable by all means, meaning rejection of the partner. While writing your dealbreakers consider: Seriousness (Aiming for marriage), Values (having same values and goals, for example in terms of religiousness, beliefs, and ways of thinking), and Interests (check that there won’t be a huge gap in interests, for example passionate in travelling and your partner has a phobia of planes)(Quilliam, 2010).
These lists are essential, so that you would go back to them and start asking yourself: “is there any dealbreaker in that partner?”, “how many characteristics does he/she have from the wish-list?”, “will I be able to give up this item?”. This will help your brain shift from the subconscious mind to the conscious one, where you could take logical decisions. Remember, you won’t find someone that would fit all your wish-list and that’s perfectly okay. For example, you may want a partner who looks a specific way and then the groom you have is not fitting the appearance criteria. If you feel that you accept his/her appearance continue with the relationship, but only it would be dealbreaker if you don’t accept how he/she looks and you feel embarrassment to show your partner off to your friends and family.
But, are you emotionally healed?
A significant part you need to perceive before initiating a partnership is your emotional stability. If you just had a breakup, you can’t immediately enter another relationship, except after overcoming the past experience and healing from any traumatic events. It’s all about weather, you can think and talk kindly or even neutrally about you ex or not. If you still have hope that you may be together or if you still hold strong emotions either negatively or positively, that means you still need to heal. Strong emotions that come with traumas and breakups prevents us from being able to think logically and consciously (Quilliam, 2010).
How much time you need for healing? There are no specific timings, however some suggestions are half the length spent with the ex (ex. spending a year with the ex, means waiting 6 months) or counting a week for every month spent with your ex-partner (Quilliam, 2010).
Every relationship has an influence on us, so you need to have a partner, who can influence you positively and provide you with everlasting support. In the engagement phase, where you’re getting to know the person, you need to be mindful of assessing your compatibility with your partner rather than entertainment outings and expression of emotions. In this phase, you need to share together your needs and aims of the marriage and partnership. This is because the most significant problem in partnerships is communication, there is a lack of communication. Therefore, opening up in times of discomfort without attack is essential (Boyce, 2012).
It’s always asked “if one should marry a partner similar or different?”, actually in terms of main values and goals in life, you should mostly be the same, because the more the similarities, the more activities you would share together and less misunderstandings would exist. However, in terms of personality the issue depends on each one’s needs. Because, for example an introvert girl may want an extrovert man in order to complete each other and share different activities. Nevertheless, another introvert would not want an extrovert, because she would not be able to cope (Quilliam, 2010).
Choose a partner who:
You are able to open up to and disclose your emotions without filtering or being afraid of judgement.
Is not aggressive and is appreciating your effort and existence.
Respects your emotions and supports you along the way.
Is able to learn from you and on the other hand teach you.
Take home message
Remember partnerships are imperfect and requires mutual compromising, so set balanced expectations and open your heart for the partner awaiting you!