“We call it relating, not a relationship,” says Ben Anyasodo, a licensed behavioral change expert who founded the Black matchmaking service Chotayah with his wife Chiddie, an engineer and successful matchmaker. “Relating is, how am I relating to this person here right now? Am I relating respectfully? Is she feeling safe right now? Is she feeling loved? Is she feeling like she matters? Is she feeling important now? Am I giving her dignity, regardless of how I feel? Because feelings are not facts, right? They are feelings. So, can I recognize that my feelings are my feelings, and this person is this person?”
Ben and Chiddie chatted with us about the stages of relationships and how to get more out of yours at every stage. Here’s what they had to say, plus questions you can ask your (future) partner as you continue to get to know each other over time.
Planning A Family
Before you have children, make sure you’re on the same page about your purpose and goal as a family.
“We created a family vision,” says Ben, which was a way for them to define who they are as a family. “That little thing, which is framed on the wall and which we recommend making, becomes what you base things on. So if there’s a disagreement, for example, it’s not really about the sentiment of it anymore. Did it violate the family vision or not? Sometimes my individuality might go against the family vision, or sometimes it may be her and it may happen unconsciously. But here, that thing becomes the thing that brings you back.”
Questions to Ask/Answer:
- What are your expectations about parenting?
- How will we divide childcare responsibilities?
- How do you see your life changing after kids?
- How do you see our relationship changing after kids?
- How would you want to parent the same/differently from your own parents?
- What do you enjoy most about kids?
- What are your fears about parenthood?
- How will we manage childcare and careers?
- Who is your parenting role model?
- How do you feel about my body changing?
- What kind of lifestyle do you want to give your kids?
Conflict is part of being in a relationship, but how you handle that conflict can make or break it.
“Stonewalling,” says Ben, “or giving the silent treatment, and then shouting and insults… the key is to avoid all this and instead have a conversation.”
Chiddie adds: “Sometimes my husband and I are having a conflict and I say, ‘I cannot talk about this now. Can I just take some time off then I’m going to come back?’ We agreed in our relationship that there is no shouting, no matter how angry you are, you will not shout. So, if you’re going to shout at that moment, just take a break and relax, then come back and say, ‘This is what the problem is.’ And focus on that.”
Questions to Ask/Answer:
- What is one way we can save this relationship?
- When were you happiest in our relationship?
- What changed?
- What do you still love about me?
- Would you be happier without me?
- What is your biggest fear about ending the relationship?
“Finally, I have this mantra that life is not that long,” says Ben. “You don’t have such a long time with this person. What memories are they going to have? What are they going to feel when they remember you? And given that situation, why don’t we spend more time loving each other, enjoying each other’s company, and having fun rather than fighting or trying to change each other.”
Good reminder, thanks Ben and Chiddie!
Article by Theresa Gonzalez
Photo credit: Chewy and Priscilla Du Preezon on Unsplash