I guess my failures have become so renown, that folk feel comfortable asking me questions on relationships. They say, “everything happens for a reason.” And, if my relational failings might serve the common good, to God be the glory! #MercyLord
Nevertheless, I do give thanks for the opportunity to speak with others about their relationships. Love and relationships are vital to human existence. Indeed, the only time in the story of Creation that God proclaimed anything to not be “good” was when man existed without woman (and vice versa, implied).
Yet, as important as relationships are they are quite elusive and confusing. You don’t need to do much research to prove that statement. A simple personal reflection will do. If that’s not sufficient, you can look to those around you: family, friends, coworkers, etc. Everyone has some story of confusion in relationships. But to satisfy those who like stats: a simple Google Search for “relationships” yields 527 Million results!
How to Make Relationships Work
That’s the ultimate question, right? All of the other questions are simply periphery, are the not? Cosmopolitan-esque questions of “How to Turn on Your Man” and Harvey-esque advice to “think like a man,” don’t seem to really get to the point, do they? They are necessary: every man wants to be turned on, and women would be helped if they understood men’s way of thinking (and vice versa). But even after understanding these things, there is more to “getting it right” in relationships.
It’s all in the approach.
One of the fathers told me: “marriage (i.e. relationships) is like a box.” He went on to explain to me that our consumer society comes to the box of relationships looking for what can be consumed. We come to the box and take out what’s in it for us. Man takes…woman takes…and the cycle repeats itself until finally the box is empty. And, when the box is empty our relationships die.
He went on to say that the proper view of marriage and relationships to to approach the box seeking what we can put into it. Man gives…woman gives…and the cycle repeats itself until the box is overflowing! When the box overflows our relationships thrive.
I did two additional Google searches. First, I searched for “what are you getting out of your relationship.” This search yielded 772 Million results! In contrast, a search for “what are you giving to your relationship” yielded a mere 146 Million results. And even then, many of those results on the first page addressed the more negative aspects of that result pool.
Our natural tendency is to look for what we can get out of the box of relationships. We come to relationships looking for someone to take care of us…to cook for us…to provide for us…to motivate us…to protect us…to nurture us…to satisfy us…etc, etc, etc. We are well-intentioned, but those intentions sap the life out of the other. Even in many relationships that are “lasting,” when husband or wife (or both) are in the “safety” of their friends they are quick to gripe about their spouse!
How do You Approach the Box of Relationships?
It’s quite awkward and counter-cultural, yet when you think of relationships do you consider what you want to give to your partner? Do you see their failures, their weak-spots, their hurts, their fears and intentionally decide that you want to love them?
I mean love them: not with a simple “I love you” type love, but with that essential and active-type love that rolls up your proverbial sleeves and gets down in the shit of their existence?
Do you approach relationships and become excited by how good you can be to your partner? Or do you simply consider how good s/he looks and feels to you? Do you approach the box of relationships thinking of all the wonderful things you possess that you will add to the box? Or, do you become consumed by thoughts of all the wonderful thing your partner has that you can take from the box?
A Novel Approach to Relationships
I think the wisdom told to me by this father makes a great deal of sense…don’t you? Yet, it is not an easy approach to make. For in a society geared towards consumption, most of us approach relationships looking for what we can get out of relationships rather than what we are able to give to them.
As St. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:14, we ought not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In this respect, we can see the difficulty in taking this approach to relationships when your partner does not share this perspective.
In theory, we give and we give and we give and we give and we give. Regardless of who does the giving…no matter if only one gives, eventually the box will still fill to overflowing. Yet in praxis, a man/woman can only go so long with their giving being unrequited. If both parties are not giving to the box, the giver will eventually tyre. Once they have burnt out, they will stop giving and their relationships will ultimately die.
I believe this theory to be the best in securing happy relationships. Yet, for this theory to work, it is important that both partners be committed to giving to the relationship. Two takers will kill their relationships faster, but a giver and a taker together will kill their relationships just the same. So maybe that should be the new “about your mate” question in dating: “How do you approach the box of relationships?”
For more information on approaching the box and to find out how you can change your approach, please see the following video.
What do you think?
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