Popular psychologist Uncle Ebo Whyte has said that a healthy relationship begins with equality between the two partners.
He appeared alongside relationship expert Esi Mensah on Friday's Super Morning Show to explain to listeners how to tell a good relationship apart from a bad one.
Mensah agreed that partners must be confident in themselves, adding that if someone is crippled by a lover's absence, the relationship is unhealthy.
Mr Whyte clarified that although the partners should remain individuals, they must establish an equal relationship and a balanced dynamic together because it is out of this dynamic that their children's psyches will be formed.
Equality in relationships
Whyte said that equality is most likely to exist between two partners who are individually comfortable with themselves and who complement one another as they come together. A partner should affirm that the other person is special, but neither should rely on the other to feel important or beautiful; each must be independently confident. According to Whyte, people who do not love themselves cannot be truly loved by others.
The guests agreed that one-sided relationships are fundamentally unhealthy, with Mensah saying that relationships require give and take; one partner might be doing for the other today, but it will be the other's turn tomorrow.
She expressed the belief that equality can still exist if a man goes to work and a woman stays at home care for the children so long as they agree on this arrangement. Too often, she said, this setup leads to a situation in which the man calls all the shots. She added that this is unacceptable, insisting that women must have some say in their own affairs.
Whyte brought up the scenario in which the couple uses their mutual wealth to help one partner's family but not the other's. He said that the grossly uneven distribution of shared resources undermines balance in a relationship. He also mentioned other common forms of inequality: if one partner is always working to please the other partner, who never offers thanks; if one partner has to hide his or her true self to make the other feel comfortable; or if one partner cannot speak honestly for fear that the other will twist his or her words, these are all signs of an unbalanced relationship.
Making it work in the long term
To avoid getting stuck in a bad relationship, Ms Mensah stressed the importance of using your head rather than following your heart: if your partner does not reciprocate the things you do for them, it's up to you to realize that the relationship is flawed. She said that if you are guided by logic rather than emotion, you can look at a relationship objectively and decide whether you will be able live with your partner's flaws, thus avoiding problems down the road. Whyte emphasized that the heart can be deceitful and that mature people learn to rule their hearts.
He advised that in any relationship the initial magic will inevitably fade; therefore to ensure that the relationship lasts, the couple must work hard to address issues early and establish ways to understand each other and avoid stepping on each other's toes. He said that some people, whom he called “falling in love junkies,” have not learned how to do this, and they jump from relationship to relationship after the initial magic fades. He warned that relationships rarely last if a partner enters the relationship due to a fear of being alone.
Dating across class lines
The most controversial topic of the day was Whyte's suggestion that two people from drastically different socioeconomic backgrounds should not date because the poorer person's insecurities will weigh too heavily on the richer partner.
Listeners and even Super Morning Show host Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah disagreed, saying that some couples could surely work through such problems.