Dear Auntie Chambu:
I am a 27-year old professional woman with a good education and a wonderful job. I am ready to settle down and start a family but I just can't figure out what type of man is suitable for me. Can you help me?
Seems to me the first thing you need to do is get out there and get some exposure. You have to go date different types of men in order to figure out what is important to you. For instance, after talking to several men you may come to realize that education or good communication skills or money is paramount. You need to refine your understanding of your own values before you can find that truly compatible relationship.
I think there are a few qualities that most women look for in a man. Communication tops the list for many. Whether it's verbal or non-verbal communication you want there to be a rapport- you two should understand each other. Listening skills or being a good listener is part and parcel of relating to each other. Other essentials are openness, caring, sensitivity, and generosity. Like building blocks these things build upon each other; the presence of one quality can indicate the existence of the others. For instance, a man's level of generosity clearly tells you how caring, sensitive, and open he is -how able/willing he is to share himself and his resources with others or with you. In my experience, the reverse is equally true. A stingy man is equally tight with giving of himself or his resources to others.
Here are some general questions that might help you define what you're looking for:
Do you want kids?
Maybe you don't know how many children you want right now but make sure that the man of your dreams wants at least one. If family is important to you, like it is for many Africans, let him know. Which leads us to. . .
What is his definition of family?
African families tend to extend beyond the nuclear "Dad, Mom, & 2.2 kids" formula. Avoid future fights about those money transfers to kin back home by making sure he understands your communal culture background.
Where do you want to live?
Choosing between New York or New Mexico, the town or the country, can be hard enough but now you compound that with choices between continents. If you always wanted to reverse the brain drain and settle in the motherland your prospective partner needs to share your vision.
How will finances be managed?
Does he have long term financial goals? Who will budget and balance the checkbook/s. Will you open up joint bank accounts or maintain separate accounts? Since money issues are a leading relationship stressor make sure this won't be a deal breaker way down the line.
Is he religious and/or spiritual?
If he wants to go to church every week and you like to sleep in on Sundays this strikes a dissonant chord. Matters of faith become particularly important when children are involved.
How will you divide family duties?
Will he help in the kitchen or gripe at even taking out the trash. Traditional gender roles have changed rapidly. Depending on his cultural upbringing or the dynamics he saw in his own parents' relationship your man may adapt or rebel- to your dismay or delight (depending on how traditional you are).
And last but not least. . .
What's your level of intimacy?
Male and female libidos are different. Be up front about your sexual needs so the bedroom is a place of pleasure not pain.
Go forth with your internal checklist in mind but remember that no body is perfect. If you find a man with most of the above qualities, I suggest you give him a serious thought and closer look. May cupid guide your path. Good luck.
Auntie Chambu, 52, was born and raised in the grasslands of Cameroon. This sheltered nineteen year old, boarding school girl came to a rebellious 60's United States to pursue a college degree and her dreams. She garnered degrees in social work and counseling, got married, and had four kids who constantly put her education and home spun wisdom to the test. After over twenty years of living on the two continents, her advice has a great mixture of traditional African insights with a spirited American independent thinker streak.
Need answers to a problem? Send your question to Auntie Chambu at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only letters selected for publication will be answered.