After my blog on how affairs and abusive relationships start on my thrivingcouples.com blog , a reader suggested I continue with the topic and discuss how these relationships develop. I gave that a go here, but I thought I’d take another crack at it today from a different angle.
The literature on abusive relationships blames the perpetrator, but in my view, you’d better be careful making yourself out to be a victim when you dated so and so willingly and freely. A better question would be how did you get into this mess in the first place and how do you figure out a way to not go down that road again.
This is one of the great dangers of courting in our society. We’ve eliminated the arranged marriage. We’re all too proud and sophisticated for that. While the arranged marriage has it’s downsides, the advantage is that the bride or groom had two entire families in on the vetting process. Instead of two people trying to figure out if they were meant for each other there were a minimum of 6, and probably in many cases, a lot more than that. They were doing research and praying and discussing and hoping and dreaming all together. Certainly there are abuses in this system but a lot of people checking out your future spouse and vouching for their veracity is a good thing.
When people so-called “fall in love” they are absolutely crazy people. Their ability to think and make rational decisions is in the toilet. If this method of picking a spouse based upon “feelings” was so great, why in the world do we have a divorce rate hovering around 50%? I’d say a failure rate like that goes wanting. You don’t only need your feelings involved. You need your brain, too, and your family and close confidants opinions and if you have family members or close friends who think your new found love is creep you’d better open your eyes instead of thinking they are all a bunch of control freaks. Careful.
Here’s a warning sign straight from the Gates of Hell: Do not pass go. Go directly to Hell: Your new found love is in a hurry to get married. YIKES! RED FLAG! RED FLAG! Run, run, run away. There is no hurry. Love is patient. So if he tells you he loves you, but he wants to get married NOW and you don’t even know who this guy (or gal) is, someone is on the fast track to pull someone’s wool over someone’s eyes. Not everyone who smiles at you is to be trusted! Beware the smiley face. At church or work or anywhere else. A smile is cheap. Character runs deep. You HAVE to know the person long enough to see if the smile is connected to character, or it’s all a show. Anyone can be nice…for a time. It’s time, times and time again where you really figure out what’s going on. There’s no hurry.
But what do we do? We give someone our heart just because they are nice and reach out to us. So we tell him or her all our problems and he’s so understanding and it feels so good (I’m going to puke). We’re sooooo needy. We’re so lonely that anyone with a heartbeat and a smile will do.
No. Folks. This isn’t how it works. Give your heart to this nice person when you don’t even know them?
And here’s a sure way to ruin your life without even skipping a beat: Have sex with them! A whole bunch! Grovel in each other’s underwear. Now try making a rational decision.
You won’t and you’ll keep me busy for years to come.
Our romantic relationships today are based upon just two people’s impressions and given our penchant for being deceived and deceiving ourselves, it is too easy to fall into a trap. The old saying, “it can’t be wrong, because it feels so right” is a load of crap. You better have something better leading your life than your feelings or you will leave a trail of tears wherever you go, in your life and in everyone else’s around you.
This is why online and cohabiting relationships are so insidious and harmful. They have as their birthplace, their foundation and beginning, two people using each other for their own benefit. You go online to find someone to bless you? Folks, this is just creepy. It turns marriage on it’s head and makes marriage out to be a relationship for two selfish people who are each wanting the other to perform certain things to make the other happy. Marriage is NOT about you finding the right person to make you happy. This makes your spouse out to be an idol, and I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible much, or not, but thou shalt not have any graven images before Me is like, ah, one of the Ten Commandments. Graven means carving out, making something to be like something else, and when you insist that your spouse make you happy you are carving him into something he cannot be nor should be and then when he doesn’t perform these miraculous works to make you “feel love” you will dump his sorry butt and go looking for another idol to fill your empty soul.
No. Marriage is about two selfless people (of the opposite sex! Our society is so perverted, I have to explain this?) each seeking to be a blessing to each other and developing a life together. It’s not two people wanting the other to bless them. It’s two people seeking to be a blessing to the other.
Cohabiting, same-sex, online dating, affairs and abusive relationships are all people looking for someone else to make them happy. Relationships become your drug of choice. And they last about as long, too. If you insist your spouse make you happy, you put your spouse in prison and he will be screaming to get out. As Proverbs 7 warns “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.”
We have a whole culture that is trying to ruin marriage for everyone by spreading the myth that marriage is about making you happy. No wonder same-sex relationships are all the rage. Those relationships are the king of seeking pleasure at someone else’s expense. So are affairs. No one has any patience. Everyone wants everything right now. No sense waiting for God’s leading. I’ll just take the bull by the horns and squeeze out of all these desperate people online (if you are looking for a spouse or a lover online you are by definition, desperate) someone who will make me happy. We’ll just cohabit with each other right now today. No sense waiting. We can be happy now: A couple of leeches sucking blood out of each other. They are both taking advantage of each other for their own benefit. Weddings cost too much. Sacrifice and patience are not in our vocabulary. We’ll live for the now. Right now. For now. Look at all the money we’ll save! Free love! All we need is each other. We’re committed…as long as you make me happy.
Of course, if my feelings change, watch out! I don’t have any control over my feelings, right (another load of crap)? I have to do what my feelings tell me. And my feelings tell me you are not the one for me any more because you no longer make me feel good. It’s all about my feelings, see. I made you my god, but when you didn’t deliver, I switched my god to my feelings. Actually, my god was my feelings all along. My smiley face to you was all a ruse! I’m not really a nice person after all! HA! My bad. Too bad for you. I’m just a victim of my g0d-feelings and I must worship my navel. It doesn’t matter if kids are involved. Just so I’m happy. And if I’m not happy divorced, I’ll just look online and find another part-time god to make me feel good long enough to leave a trail of bodies in the another ditch on another trail.
If you see me comin’ you better step aside. A lotta men didn’t and a lotta men died.+
Marriage is worth waiting for. Marriage is worth saving for. Marriage is worth fighting for. If Jacob worked 7 years for Rachel, no 14 years*, certainly you can wait until your wedding day. But, you say, I don’t have anyone yet? Have? Have? Isn’t that the whole problem? It’s not “have.” Let’s worry about being the right person instead of finding the right person.
Then, maybe a little patience might mean something. Do something about something you have control over. If you are married, you don’t have control over whether or not your spouse makes you happy. You DO have control over whether or not you are a loving spouse. He who would be greatest among you shall be your servant.
If you are single you need to stop LOOKING and start BEING. Be content in and of yourself, so you don’t NEED someone else other than God to make you whole. Develop you gifts. Develop your talents. Pursue your dreams. Find a way to be a blessing to others beyond your work. Learn. Stretch. Grow. And pray.
And in the journey of living your life in obedience to God’s call on your life, sooner or later, for most of us, someone will find us who will be a person of character who is looking for a person of character.
Sooner or later. God knows best right? You’ve put yourself at His feet, right? So let Him take care of it while you major on being a blessing to others.
But if the looking becomes your mission?
Welcome to a life of misery.
+Tennessee Earnie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”