How to cope when your partner is on a spiritual journey and you are not

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(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)

QUESTION

MY man and I have been together for the past two and half years. We have grown a great liking for each other and it was all thanks to our compatible lifestyles. We enjoyed a time of partying and dancing with friends until he told me he could no longer go to clubs with me. At first he wouldn’t explain why but he recently found the courage to do so.

He says he has a calling to be a pastor and can no longer entertain the life we had. He says he doesn’t want to part ways with me but we have to change our lifestyle, as a couple, if I am to become a future Mamfundisi. He says I must change the way I dress and I am struggling to adapt to the growing demands.

In the past, I ended a relationship after I learned my partner was going to become a sangoma. I seem to attract men with callings and don’t know how to cope with this. Should I stay or go? CONFUSED LOVER

ANSWER

LOVE is never enough to sustain a relationship. It isn’t all you need. While compatibility may carry some level of importance in the process of deter mining whether to commit to a relationship or not, it is highly over-rated.

IMPERFECT HUMAN BEINGS

Two different, grown and imperfect human beings with their own sinful natures simply can’t be compatible, and therefore, conflicts are inevitable. When you look for someone to marry, never settle for one you have the most in common with. True love is never determined by common interests. On the contrary, compatibility is an achievement of love, but not its precondition. You’ll only know you’ve met “the one” years after marriage, not before. Furthermore, marital or long- term relationship harmony is unnatural. Harmony between two people is naturalised by sacrifices made in love. It is unnatural due to the fact that human flaws and our sinful nature make us naturally incompatible. Therefore, to prioritise and pursue compatibility at any level other than in the moral character of the one you wish to marry is to delay love.

SHARED UNDERSTANDING

The only time compatibility really matters when looking for a marriage partner is when it comes to their moral character. What are his commitment levels and how matured is he? Do you have a compatible value system and attitude towards finances? Do you have a shared understanding of what it means to be in an exclusive long-term relationship like marriage? That your personalities are different is neither here nor there. You’re supposed to be different. Differences in personality are great opportunities for true love to flourish.

Furthermore, when you marry someone, you don’t marry their personality, but you marry their moral character– integrity, virtue and ethics. And that brings us to your question. You see, people have enough to live by, but nothing to live for. They have the means, but no meaning. Random living is the enemy of meaning. The point is ,people that are serious about life, have the courage to search for meaning. In the process, they actually grow and mature. They understand that life is not always about song and dance.

They pursue meaning and purpose in order to live fulfilled lives and leave meaningful legacies. You have to give your boyfriend the right to experience his full cycle of life. And if you believe his choices and preferences no longer fit your idea of life destiny, you have choices as well. This is your life too.

FLOW TOGETHER

Unless you’re living separate lives, which will lead you to different destinies, you ought to flow together in spirit and soul. Hence, no one should advise you to stay or leave the relationship. This is about what you can or can’t handle, and understanding the following:

Ministry is his calling and not yours – While he’ll be in dire need for your support ,there’s no office of pastor’s wife in Scripture. He’s the one who is called to ministry, not you. What you need to contend with is whether you’re fine with being a pastor’s wife, and what that actually means. Educate yourself on what it means from other pastor’s wives. Hold serious conversations with him about how and where he sees you fitting in the picture.

His call to ministry makes a claim on you – You have to decide to either fit the stereotype of what the church defines as a pastor’s wife or you’d have to chart your own definition. And yes, indeed you may have to be a wife, very soon. Go through a process of coaching and pre-marital counselling. He needs to understand that he’d have to be there for you during this pre-decision process. It’s for his benefit that you know what you’d be getting yourself involved with should you decide to be with him.

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