I spoke to a friend earlier today who was explaining that his wife of 8 years just told him that for three of those years, she had been secretly hating him for not contributing more to the household duties. He explained that he worked a 14 hour job that would allow him to retire early and she worked a 9 – 5 job, then would pick up their two very young children from daycare, and tend to them for the rest of the evening. He went on to explain that she would spend countless hours on Facebook and eventually found a video that explained, from a woman’s point of view, the stages of marriages, and how wives are burdened with stress and pressure and that it was the husband’s responsibility to do everything he could to make her happy.
While my husband and I were going through pre-marital counseling, we were given two very important questions to answer that I believe, are truly shaped and developed deep into our subconscious while we are single:
What is the role of the husband?
What is the role of wife?
I’d like to ask for you, if you are single, to answer those questions for yourself. How you answer and what you allow to feed, support, or nurture your answers will determine your success in your building the foundation for a solid relationship. To take that into an even deeper level, how you define love is the key that unlocks the gate to where it starts.
So, let’s start from there. And bare with me, following this train of thought.
How do you define love?
An awesome sister friend of mine explained that she loved me unconditionally. She explained that she is always supportive of me and simply loves me no matter what.
That sounds great right?
But I thought of the word, “unconditionally.” So I asked, “Do you love others unconditionally?”
“Of course not,” she explained.
So I asked her how she defined love, and again she explained the support and bond she and I have. Then she asked me, “Isn’t that how you define it?”
“No,” I said. “I believe that it is humanly impossible to love ‘a person’ unconditionally – at all times. A person either loves everyone – which is the state of being unconditional love, or they love conditionally, which involves – maybe not always, but becomes self-serving in some way, at some time. It is a choice to consistently be self-sacrificial – not in a ‘look-at-me-doing-this-for-you-martyr kind of way, but to always keep our emotions in check, regardless if the person is acting the way we want him or her to act. We went back and forth a few times on that and amicably decided that we would just simply agree to disagree.
But really, our difference in opinion began with what we were using to define love.
You can define it as a feeling, a strong emotional bond within a relationship. You know, ‘philos’ – brotherly love, ‘eros‘ – passionate desire, and ‘agape‘ – sacrificial love.
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persevere. Love never fails. The greatest of faith, hope, and love, is love.”
I challenge anyone to say that at all times, they are this – in any relationship. My friend is wonderful – I do not argue that, and I do ‘feel’ love from her as she listens to my dreams, goals, and fears. However, I can recall times she was not patient with me, she lost her temper many times, and reminded me of the wrong I have done in the past.
No, I believe the above passage demonstrates the choices we have to strive towards with all our relationships, ranging from the annoying slow/fast, and poor driver to rude children, to our future spouse.
One way to test the levels of your love gauge; how are you when you drive? Do you ever wish ill will on the poor driver? Do you gossip about others? Do you usually go out on the prowl in search for those who will submit to whatever you say? Do you listen more than you explain? Do you retaliate when someone crosses you? THIS is where the ‘unconditional’ comes in. This is where the choices to forgive, be patient and kind, or refrain from fueling the fires of drama start. How you are in these situations will pretty much determine if when you love, you do so based on that person’s performance. We can always grow from conditional to unconditional, but again, this is a conscious effort that must be put into practice.
Now, all too often, in my studying of countless couples’, many of the ones that start from a ‘feeling,’ usually always end up in divorce. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Jane and Billy have two children and have been married for about 9 years. One day, early in their marriage, Jane, as she was leaving to hang with the girls, she asked Billy to take out the trash – yet it was during football season. Billy told Jane he would and really meant to, but forgot with the excitement and distraction of watching the game with his buddies. When Jane came home, the trash was still not emptied. Billy honestly forgot and said he would, however he did not do it as quickly as she wanted so, audibly angry, Jane picks up the trash and take it out herself, mentioning why does she even bother asking him. After hearing Jane complain about the chores, Billy only hears nagging. Now, when company comes to visit, Jane tells her guests she has three children. He does whatever he can to avoid coming home, she builds resentment and disrespect towards him. He neglects her and doesn’t understand why she won’t stop the nagging. Both begin looking for love elsewhere, he online; she, when she’s out with the girls.
Sure it is easy to pick apart the scenario and analyze it, action by action. However, the breakdown started before they ever entered marriage.
In your singleness – if your plight is to change that, I encourage you to take the time to define love. With it, you’ll be able clearly and soberly, define respect.
Respect Starts with You.
Wouldn’t you agree?
In the next blog, my own story on how I learned to respect myself during singlehood, and how I had to set the standard for my future husband, based on the respect I decided to give…
Want to share your own story? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if I can share and answer in upcoming blogs.