The Genes You Wear
By Mahadi and Rob Buthelezi – Who am I and who are you? What is your make-up, your DNA? Or, put differently, what genes do you wear?
In our family ministry, we put this question to couples when preparing them for marriage. This question in particular looks deep into a person’s core — and it has nothing to do with what they do for a living.
Most couples get lost in their own professions and family backgrounds, thinking that this is what defines them — and many are then unable to come to grips with who they actually are.
This question is important to answer in order to understand yourself and also to understand your partner. To make it easier for couples, we suggest that they tackle it by asking three additional questions:
– Who do I think I am? This addresses the general self-knowledge of my personality, likes and dislikes (asking your partner).
– Who do people say I am? The opinion others have of you may differ from what you think or know of yourself.
– Why do people say that about me? Often there is no smoke without fire; there is always a reason why people say things — good or bad — about you.
We are living in a world of serious identity crises. We are unable to communicate effectively unless we address the fundamental and important subject of identity. You need to first find out who you are and then be able to communicate that to your partner. The partner, in turn, needs to do the same.
Who Am I?
In our experience of counselling couples, most say that they have never before asked themselves who they are. Some are even shocked when we say that we are not interested in their careers or job titles or family backgrounds as a way of defining who they are.
With life being unpredictable, we often ask the question: “What will happen to you when you lose your profession, your job or your title?” The point is that these do not define your life, and you don’t cease to exist when the jobs or titles disappear. Some people rather define themselves by their marriage, or roles they play at home.
So the lesson we learn in knowing ourselves is that we are bigger than the issues, problems and challenges we face. We also learn that our past does not define who we are, because we can change things and situations.
We can break the chains of poverty, lack of education, and abusive relationships passed on from generation to generation. We can be the first in the family to graduate, to buy a house or a car.
The challenge we put to couples is to be better partners, parents, and grandparents than their forebears by giving quality time and attention to each other and then to their children.
Mahadi and Rob Buthelezi are based in Johannesburg. They are involved in the family ministry with a special focus on couples.