Hi Achokis. My girlfriend is 30 years old, but still lives with her parents. The other day, she mentioned to me that she was tired of hearing her parents quarrel all the time and that it was affecting her.
She also swore that she will never get married, yet we have been in a relationship. Does that mean the end of our love relationship? I was about to propose to her, but I’m also afraid that something bad might happen to her.
How can I help her?
Thank you Toma for the concern that you have shown towards your girlfriend. It is said that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Sometimes, people don’t know who to talk to when they are going through stuff and being there for her must be encouraging to her.
Unfortunately, some parents do not know where to draw the line, especially where conflict is concerned. They might not take into consideration the effect of this on their children who hear more than they should, let alone seeing some of the physical fights that go on.
This can have an impact on them, by either having a totally different marriage from their parents’ or to never get married like in your girlfriend’s case.
Handling conflicts with care
On the flip side, children should not be lied to that couples never go through conflicts. As parents, we shouldn’t shield them from the realities of life. Instead, we should be open with them and talk to them on how to handle conflict positively.
They should know that there is no perfect family, and where people are living together, there is bound to be conflict. How one handles the situation, and resolves the conflict is what matters. There should be rules of engagement when dealing with our conflicts—rules, such as never calling each other names and getting physical. Even in our disagreements, decorum should be maintained.
We need to develop skills on handling conflict, with the knowledge that children pick up certain traits.
On the proposal, hold on until she settles emotionally. Realise that your girlfriend has seriously been affected by what’s going on at home. Don’t take her seriously when she says she won’t get married, yet don’t take it lightly either.
This is what we call “inner vows’’ that we make when we are deeply hurt. These inner vows may cripple us from moving on effectively in life.
Let her heal
She needs to deal with this before she can be in the right space to commit to you. Otherwise, she will be looking at you through the lens of her parents’ marriage.
She, therefore, will need professional counselling. Suggest this to her as a friend who genuinely cares and let her know why this is important to your relationship. You could even offer to go with her for some of the sessions.
Getting help early enough, before you propose, can go a long way in helping your future together.
The writers are marriage and relationship coaches.