Relationships Goals: Marriage or A Wedding?

Today’s relationships seem to be so much different from what many of us saw from our parents and grandparents. Our new found "freedom" and "Success" seems to have switched our priorities from unity, family and community building, to independence, instant gratification and materialism. We want everything not now, but right now! In regards to materialism. We are programmed to believe that if we don’t have the "best" aka "the most expensive" education, home, cars, clothes, and accessories, that we are somehow not "successful". So how has this shift in priorities affected our romantic relationships? In this article we will focus on how the ideas of independence, instant gratification, and materialism are negatively affecting our relationships and how we can possibly get back on track.

Let start with the illusion of independence. I call independence and illusion because it is just that. Life is a team sport rather you want to admit it or not. Anyone that subscribes to the idea of being a self-made or totally independent person is not being honest with the world not to mention themselves. We "need" others in every aspect of our lives. The creation of life requires two people and even a successful business needs customers and employees to raise itself to the level of success it has achieved. So, why do we as individuals feel that needing others somehow makes us weak and less attractive in relationships? As black people, most of us have been taught that in order for use to be successful in our society that we must be 100 times better than anyone else just to get ahead. I feel we take that advice to the extreme in every aspect of our lives. So if the standard of measure of success is independence, we are going to be super independent!! However, this mentality actually leads us to conflict with ourselves, our mates, and quite often those that are in our dating pool. Let me explain. Independent is great when we are talking about an adult being able to provide for themselves and their families comfortably. However, independence takes on a whole new context when it leads one to believe he or she is better than others because of their material success and/or social economic status. The later seems to be the definition many are referring to when they proclaim their independence to the world. The issue with this is that you instantly alienate yourself from the masses and usually end up pushing away great people who are usually not "intimidated “as some would claim, but just turned off from your shallow and self-serving mentality and pretentious energy. We should shift or thinking from Independence to interdependent which means each person is mutually reliant on each other. Once we make this shift we will learn much more about ourselves which in turn will make us more accepting and compassionate of others. In this way we will begin to make more meaningful connections with people that will ultimately lead us to attracting the loving and healthy relationships that we so greatly desire. 

Next there is instant gratification. Our desire for instant gratification in my opinion is probably one of the biggest destroyers of our relationships today. We have no "time" to wait for anything or anyone for any reason. When I think about this concept I can’t help but think about the comparison of a microwave to a conventional oven. The microwave will cook and heat your food in a third of the time. However, it is in no way comparable to the taste and quality of the food that you cook in the oven. What I am saying here is that quality takes time. The most rewarding experiences in life usually take time, effort, and even a bit of pain in some cases. A mother carries a child for nine months. During this time her body goes through so many changes. Morning sickness, weight gain, and general discomfort. For nine months she endures all these things and although there are times she may want to just give up she understands that this process is necessary in order for her to bring fourth this new life into the world. Once she has her child she will feel that the reward was worth the time and patience. In today’s relationships we tend to want to find Mr. or Ms. Right when "we feel" that we are ready for it. However, that is not how relationships work usually. Think about your best friend for a minute. When you first met him or her you didn’t know that this person would become your best friend.  However, overtime you organically formed a relationship based on you being your true self and the other person doing the same. You didn't need instructions on how to be a friend. Overtime you really began to learn and except this person for who he or she was and they did the same for you. You then realized that no matter how much you all disagreed, fought, and challenged each other, you would not want to imagine your life without that person in it. So why do we think dating should be any different? Is it not most people’s proclamation that they want to marry their "best friend'? So if it took time to build a relationship that grew into someone being your best friend in a non-romantic relationship, why would you expect to build a solid foundation with someone in a romantic relationship over night?? Do not let society, friends, or even family rush you into settling for relationships with weak and shallow foundations just so you can say "I have someone". There are far too many relationships based on convenience. When the storms arises in your relationships; as they surely will, you find they are easily whipped out because it was not based on a solid foundation of love, acceptance, and mutual purpose. Instant gratification based relationships are usually based on a "scarcity" mentality, fear, and even some level of insecurity. None of these ways of thinking will lead to happy and health relationships. Some things are better when your take your time. The outcome is never certain, but the process of really taking time to know someone helps you to know yourself and also it helps you build a proper foundation that will help you to maintain and grow as couple over time. 

Finally, let’s talk about materialism. It is perfectly normal to want to have the finer things and enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer. However, it is even more important to be able to differentiate between who you are versus what you have and/or do for a living. When we adopt materialism as our measuring stick to choose a mate or even a friend. We run the risk of missing out on making connections with great people and experiencing new ways of viewing the world we live in. Life is a cycle of constant ups and downs. One day you may be on the top of the mountain and the next you may find yourself in a valley preparing to take the climb once more. That’s why it is so dangerous to base our own self-worth or the worth of others based on material positions, social status, and even education and employment. If at any time in our life cycle we lose any or all of these positions we run the risk of losing ourselves due to the fact that we have placed more importance on what we have versus who we are. We also run the risk of ending up alone because we have judged and made our selections of who was best suited for us by what they have or don’t have. I understand love don’t pay the bills and I am not suggesting that you lower you standards to be with someone without ambition or the means to take care of themselves, However, I am suggesting that we shift and adjust our priorities to really reflect what we truly need in our relationships to be happy. Once we take the time to do this we will find that material positions and titles may fall much lower on our wish list then we once thought. 

At the end of the day on our journey to our happily ever after we must know that the real joy and growth is always in the process not the destination. So when we think of our relationships over time, let us not sell ourselves and our mates short by setting a goal that ends after the wedding ceremony. As many of us know, the real journey to happily ever after begins after all the guest have long forgotten what they ate at the reception and all the wedding gifts have been received, opened and used. 

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