Don’t be absurd. I find the notion of romantic love to be an unnecessary cultural construct that adds no value to human relationships. ~ Amy Farrah Fowler

Next year I turn 30! Wow! What a ride it has been. I do wish I had learnt some lessons much earlier on but better late than never right? Maybe I would have learnt more and a lot faster if I had started watching Big Bang Theory earlier in life.

One of those lessons is that romantic love on it’s own can not sustain a relationship. It lacks the substance to do so. Yes, It’s how a relationship often starts but if not looked after, it is also exactly how it ends.

Look at Sheldon and Amy in Big Bang Theory. These two have mastered the art of putting practicalities before romance and they are mostly happy. It might be a bit overboard to have a notarised relationship agreement and to specify the situations in which hands may be held but the underlying idea is sound.

 In order for love to thrive, it must have the required support system or if my culture is to believed rudo imoto, runotokuchidzirwa (love is a fire (in a fireplace), it must be tended for it to keep burning):

1. Boundaries:

Communicate clearly what is acceptable and what isn’t to you. This has always been the hardest for me. Often, we move our boundaries to keep the peace but it’s not worth it. You will build up secret resentment and one day it will explode for no good reason and believe me when I say my partner was genuinely surprised. How could I blame them when I had taught them that they can bend me to their will at any time.

Sheldon has been crystal clear with Amy that he does not like being touched and he finds the idea of coitus repulsive. The woman knows she is walking into the desert.

Establish boundaries early and the fire will not burn down the house. Its labour intensive to establish those boundaries and it is very uncomfortable but the long-term peace and understanding that will come from it is worthwhile.

2. You teach people how to treat you.

Consequences must be attached to behaviour.

Be appreciative when your partner is good to you. Say it out loud. It warms the cockles of their heart to feel appreciated. Similarly, when They cross the line in the other direction, they must know. Communicate clearly and concisely. No personal insults and no disrespect is necessary. If the consequences are that he must sleep on the couch, action it. Let him know that this conduct is a no-no.

One of my friends has a no-nonsense wife. We could be out as a group watching football but when she calls, he will go. The other guys laugh at him but he has made it clear that the consequences of him ignoring his wife’s call or not going home when he says he will are not worth it.

When Amy lies to Sheldon that she is still ill in order to keep him at her bedside (and to be washed regularly), he spanks her as punishment (of course she was delighted lol! but he didn’t know that.)

3. Do not be unequally yoked

If you are looking to settle down, look for a like-minded individual. It’s all well and good for you to fall head over heels for the village player but he is what he is. One of my friends fell head over heels in love with a girl who was well-known for being the “party girl who was up for anything.” He was looking to settle down as soon as possible. They dated. She cheated once or twice. They got married. He caught her in bed with his brother. He was shattered. They are now divorced. She has already moved on.

Sheldon the genius attempts to have a deep conversation with Penny, the blonde… After they fail to understand each other completely (as one would expect)Sheldon mutters “it’s like talking to a monkey.”

Seek a person you can engage with on a number of levels: life, love, laughter, adventure etc

4. Finances matter.

They do. We might not want them to but they do because life is not free. I read a story about a doctor who married a man who was a street sweeper. Very romantic love story. Until the marriage fell apart because he resented the fact that she earned so much and made all the financial decisions. Something as simple as which school to send the child or which supermarket to buy from became a mine field. Even a romantic dinner must be paid for somehow. She resented the fact that he wanted to control the finances when he barely contributed.

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of divorce. It is vital to be financially responsible, open and accountable to each other in a relationship.

5. Communicate. Enough said.