One of the questions I was asked at pre-marital counselling was to share how my parents’ marriage was like. B was asked the same question. I was then asked to describe my mother with one word. I said she is a survivor. I described my dad as chilled. B was asked to describe his parents as well and he described his late mom as a survivor.

Why where we asked to think back and share our views of our parents’ marriages? Well, it is because they did not want us to repeat the same mistakes. From us voicing out our views about our parents’ marriages, we noticed the mistakes they made. We also noticed the good parts about their marriages that we learned from. This exercise was done so that a pattern of past mistakes doesn’t repeat in our marriage.

Have you noticed how every life is made up of patterns? In fact one of my good friends’ view in finding a compatible partner for herself included a series of asking generational pattern questions about the guy who was pursuing her. It sounds too much, but as I grow up I realised she was spot on. Doing a background check will help you get an idea of how your life will turn out if you choose to spend the rest of your life with that person who you have an interest with.

Patterns are habits that we act out. They are mostly formed by observation, what we are taught, interaction and socialisation. Patterns govern our lives and these are some of the important patterns that govern our lives:

Generational pattern:

B and I noticed that our fathers had a similar personality, same as our mothers. Both our mothers were superwomen; they were the kind that made things happen with the little they had. We also noticed that most of the women in my family and in his family are very strong willed. The revelation was very alarming to us because I didn’t want to be a survivor in my marriage and he didn’t want us to handle finances separately. We both wanted to be fully involved in our marriage, and in our children’s lives.

Generational patterns are patterns you were taught and lived as you grew up. It is very important to take time and look at the abnormal generational patterns in your family. The moment you choose to ignore the abnormal patterns in your family, the more they become a norm, they become familiar patterns that govern your family legacy. Maybe,

Your family is affected by divorce?
The men in your family are passive and damaged?
The women in your family are marriage wreckers, always dating married men?
Is it poverty?
Your family uses muthi?
No one in your family has a university qualification?

Well, do know that it is doable to change things around, but it is not going to be easy! It will not be easy to break the pattern that has been carrying on in your family. You will even be mocked and be told you will not fight this, but you just need to stay in course and know that you will do it and, it will be done!

Environmental patterns:

I recently went home to visit and as I took a walk around my zone, I noticed that nothing had changed. In a good and a bad way, nothing had changed. It was heart-breaking to still see the absence of men. Alcoholic parents – drugs ruling the lives of the young ones – unemployment – discouragement – deadly words spoken like they are the trendiest words -more children being born in poverty and instability – resentment in young mothers and a whole lot! Whether you believe it or not, environments shape our lives.

It is a norm in my area that every man cheats. They don’t believe at all that there are men who don’t cheat. When and how did that belief become a norm? It became a norm when we kept hearing it over and over again, and seeing those we know dating and being proud to be dating married men. Environmental patterns can be so toxic! Hence you need to always fight the mentalities and perceptions that are shaped by our environments.

I have heard a young adult man saying he knows he will not live up to the age of 50. That would just be torture. I know a 24 year old lady who has been asked if she is struggling to have a child because it is unusual that she got to 24 years and still has no child. I know guys who see it trendy to sit from Monday to Monday drinking alcohol and talking crap! I have seen an 18 year old been fetched by different cars driven by old men she sleeps with. She thinks she is the “It Girl” in the area just because they buy her Steers Wacky Wednesday burger special.

This is all I saw when I spent just a week in my home town. Not that anything had changed, but somehow I was sensitized because I was no longer living in it. It wasn’t a norm anymore.
You choose if you want to be govern by these patterns that are a norm in your home town.

Self-inflicted patterns

“If you want different results, do something different.”
Past self-inflicted patterns are patterns that are formed from the choices and the bad habits you hold dear to. You can’t blame anyone but yourself, because the fact is, you always have the last say in your life.

I was single for 4 years before I met B, but before then I dated, and I dated a lot! I kept having failed relationships because I kept approaching the next relationship the same way I did the last one. In fact, the guys I dated were all the same, they just had different names. I learned the hard way that to get different results, I had to do things differently.

Maybe you are not average. You just need to commit and be disciplined to excel in what you do. Maybe you are not cursed, you just need to be patient and continue working at the results you want. Maybe you are not unlucky, but you just need to stop giving up too quickly on your life plans.

“Unhealed behaviours are repeated behaviours.”

I had to be honest with myself and had to unlearn certain behaviours I had learned which were wrong and toxic. Some behaviours were not bad, but were just too extreme that they end up being bad baheviours. I had to be aware and unlearn.

I hope this will encourage you to ask the uncomfortable questions, study your family’s patterns and make a few changes. Remember, not every pattern is bad. Only you know where you are going in life and the type of quality life you desire. Identify and learn so that you don’t fall for the same trap.

“Unhealed behaviours are repeated behaviours.”

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