Roles and Relationships Is there a ticking time bomb in your relationship? Domestic roles and responsibilities are a time bomb waiting to go off in many relationships. We start off so well. Newlyweds usually begin with a willingness of … Continue reading
Relationships are hard. Be it parent/child, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker, acquaintance we are bound to have conflict. We are going to have misunderstanding, offense, strain, and, sometimes division. But that is never the end of the story.
It is interesting how often it is easier to walk away from our valuable relationships (whether physically or emotionally) than offer forgiveness which might build a bridge across the gap of frustration, anger or hopelessness.
More often than not, we just throw rocks at each other until nothing remains but a banged up, dented in, gnarled vestige of a relationship. Something that was once of great value. Destroyed by our own hands.
I was taught that being a good steward of what is valuable helps to maintain the value.
My dad will tell you that as soon as you drive a new car off the lot, the monetary value drops immediately. However, regular upkeep and maintenance preserves the amount of pleasure and use you receive from an investment you deemed worthy to make. You certainly do not take a sledge hammer to that investment because it got a flat tire, ran out of gas or worse yet shows signs of wear in the interior. You fix the problem.
Every relationship I have ever entered into held a valuable place in my heart when I entered into it. As I look back, those lost relationships most commonly disintegrated because we hurt each other and instead of repairing the damage, we chose to cripple it by withholding forgiveness.
On the other hand, I’ve seen how forgiveness builds a bridge that afforded the opportunity to reclaim and restore what was lost.
Forgiveness is tricky. It’s often discussed and acknowledged as necessary but rarely operated properly. Basically, I believe, because we do not believe it holds any real power.
As a young car owner, I used to scoff at the idea that regular oil changes were necessary until I experienced a few break downs. Wisdom and experience have shown me how stupid my thought processes were at the time.
Forgiveness is the oil change of a relationship.
It is vital to empty the heart on a regular basis of the gunk that is causing the relationship to break down.
Pride will cost us our happiness. Stubbornness will devalue what we once held dear. Maintaining the gap between us imprisons our hope and replaces it with anger, bitterness and contempt.
Sadly, we think walking out is the answer to restoring happiness. Have you ever listened to two people who ended a relationship…there is nothing joyful, or happy resounding from their being (and cut the air with a knife if they are within 2 feet of each other). True happiness is never restored until they reach the place of forgiveness and move on.
So, why do we withhold forgiveness in the first place?
I’m not sure I have the answer to that one.
I do know this, in my own life, I am seeing the value that “forgiving quickly” produces in my own heart. I see my relationships maintaining a happier level. And retaining my investment is rewarding (and less painful than parting ways).
We’ve all heard “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”. It means apply forgiveness quickly, regularly. The heart can’t function properly without it.
The truth is…A happy relationship is made up of two good forgivers.
Photo origin unknown.
Issues are inevitable in any relationship. Resolving issues can be one of the most maddening or satisfying facets between two people depending on the approach taken by each party.
There are three common approaches when resolving issues in a relationship:
1. Passive (Becoming small, minimising yourself)
When you are passive, like a loyal teddy bear, you do not want cause a stir or stand up for your issues but in doing that you cause an underlying volcano of emotions.
2. Aggressive (Becoming big and overpowering)
When you are aggressive, like an angry bear, you tend to stand up too heavily for your issues and have a tendency to forget others have their own rights and issues.
3. Assertive (Understanding you have equal needs and rights)
When you are assertive you pay equal attention to what is right for you and what is right for the other person.
Do you recognize the wisest approach?
Exercising your assertive rights empowers you to take care of yourself while you remain respectful of other people taking care of themselves.
A counselor and friend once told me that no one wakes up in the morning thinking, “How can I tick off my spouse/partner/friend/family today? I feel like making someone really angry.”
We all hope for love, acceptance, belonging and joy. And we hope to give the same.
When we disappoint, we feel the pain as much as the other person.
My friend shared that she and her spouse remind each other, “I am for you, not against you. We have the same goal…a strong, healthy relationship.”
This helps me to stop and consider that the issue is resolvable because we both want what is best for our relationship. We actually want a win-win resolution. We are both committed to doing what we can to make things better. Even when it means recognising where we are failing and that we don’t get exactly what we originally wanted.
There were times when I thought being a loyal teddy bear was the answer but I wasn’t building a healthy relationship by remaining quite. Other times, I decided being an angry bear would resolve the issues better. Fail.
The most satisfying result, for me, is when we both feel we have a workable solution. I often ask, “Are we clear?” For me, that means the pathway between our hearts is clear of any debri that might separate us. I love hearing, “Clear.”
How about you? Are you clear? Is there debri cluttering the pathway of your heart and someone you care about?
If not, be assertive and clear the pathway as soon as possible!
Do you realize that many of our reactions to situations are caused by our fear? Fear of being vulnerable in our imperfections. Fear of losing. Fear of being alone. And many other fears. The sources of those fears are … Continue reading
I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face the day the bank manager handed me the keys to my dream car. I was mesmerized by everything about that day. Driving to work in traffic felt so much less trying than the day before. The sun felt a little bit warmer and looked a little bit brighter. I placed both hands on the wheel and leaned back as I sighed a sigh of satisfaction. I was totally in love with this little blue wonder.
About 2 months later, I was in a regular routine of spending the morning of my day off cleaning her up from top to bottom. Every two weeks she needed me to refill her gas tank with enough fuel to ensure I didn’t end up sitting on the side of the road (you remember my running out of gas stories). And every 3000 miles, I scheduled an oil change. My dad taught me that checking the oil, cleaning the windshield and topping up other fluids should be done while I was waiting for the the gas tank to fill. All regular checks and maintenance. They were just part of owning a car and making sure that I continued to enjoy and depend on it.
No big deal.
It never occurred to me to be upset about the maintenance that was required even if it wasn’t enjoyable or convenient.
I remember my wedding day even more fondly. I was full of hope and excitement for the future.
It didn’t take very long after the honeymoon to discover the need for relationship maintenance. My shiny new beginning was being tainted with faulty communication or conflict resolution. And I was becoming less thrilled by the necessary maintenance with each passing day. I even began to become resentful of my partner because he didn’t function perfectly when his love tank was empty or his stress light came on or his temperature gauge stopped working like it did when we were dating.
To be honest, I didn’t want the responsibility because, after all, “happily ever after” was just supposed to happen because we were in love.
Strong, healthy, happy relationships don’t just happen. They require regular maintenance.
Taking time to reflect on your relationship is an important part of growing as a couple. It’s important to get you thinking and talking about what is working or what is not working.
Every relationship has strengths. Identify them.
Every relationship has areas (weaknesses) that need improvement.
It’s important to give your relationship attention, maintenance and direction to keep running smoothly.
There are 9 Core Values for couples that require regular maintenance:
Roles and Responsibilities
Family and Friends (Social interaction)
Leisure Time (as couples and as individuals)
Partner Style and Habits
It’s a good idea for you and your partner to evaluate your level of satisfaction with each of the core values (Rate your level of satisfaction from 1-10). Identify which are your strongest, “on the same page” values and which need maintenance. (You might be surprised that you both recognize similar issues that need improvement.)
Then do some research. Ask for help from a Counselor, mediator, pastor or experienced couple. Make a plan. Do the work.
And just like standing back looking at a freshly painted room in your house, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and success because you’ve given your relationship the care that it needed.
Good things take time, it’s true. They also require regular maintenance.
So, check your love tank.
You’ll be glad you did.
Typically, the focus in February is romantic love. However, this month I am concentrating my focus on all of my relationships. I envisioned fun ways to strengthen my relationship with those I care about (I’m certain I will get … Continue reading