I have spent a lot of time discussing some possible pitfalls in building a solid foundation in a relationship. Now I wish to turn to enumerating 9 tasks that individuals/couples can do to help build strong foundations. The first task is to strive for balance. This means take the time to find out who you are and don’t ignore the need for “relating to people.” If you ignore this need you become incomplete. So often we become a human who is just “doing things” rather than a human who is relating to others (i.e. a human doing vs. a human being). Gain a sense of who you are. What do you want from this life? What are your interpersonal and emotional needs? What do you need from others and what are you capable of offering to others? How much are you willing to exert yourself to attain what you are looking for? How do close, long-term relationships fit into your life? Relationships are not a luxury, they are a necessity. Task number 2 is to slow down the process of getting to know another person. Don’t rush into physical intimacy. Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and slowly! Human beings are born with the “power of reflection” meaning you can take the time to reflect on your life and the big picture. However many people do not do this. They live a sort of “unconscious” life. Become more intentional. What are your goals? If your goal is to become a successful professional, it will affect your personal life. If you goal is to make a lot of money, it will affect your relationships. This is also true regarding material things like the ideal home, car, or vacations. These things get in the way of genuine relationships. When a person is young it is so hard to take in the big picture and see life as one big journey. There is a nearsightedness about how much energy you will have for all of this stuff. As you go along on this big journey in life you won’t want to expend all of this energy acquiring material possessions or achieving accolades at work. What will life be like when you lose your youth, or energy, or even health? Size up your priorities and drop what you don’t need now. Ask yourself these questions. Do you feel you are loved sufficiently now to meet your emotional needs? Are you able to love someone in return? Do you have a meaningful person to share your life with? Are you putting as much emphasis on the personal/emotional aspects of your life as opposed to the work/leisure aspects your of life? Where should be directing your energy, your gifts, your talents, and your time? Clarify your fundamental goals and work toward them at a clearheaded pace. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
People who feel they have been damaged or hurt by how they were treated in the past, either by family or by others, often live in isolation and try to keep other people at an arm’s length distance emotionally. They are reluctant to share their fears, hopes, dreams, wishes, and vulnerabilities with others. In other words, to share that most sacred part of themselves. The opposite can also be quite true by opening up and sharing far too much, far too soon in a relationship. There is a balance between relating and over-relating. If you have been hurt there is a crucial need for emotional and spiritual healing especially if this occurred in your fundamental relationships. If you don’t face the demons from your past, you cannot live in an emotionally healthy way in the present and future. No matter your faith, tradition, or culture there is a higher power and if you believe in the ability of God to intervene in your life, you will experience healing and be comforted. Many people live with the burden of their past and they just don’t know how to let go of it. They literally need someone to come in and cut that rope and say, “Let go of it.” Moving on with God’s help means you can begin to make a big difference in learning to be open to others again. In Scripture the story of Lot is somewhat instructive in dealing with the past. Lot was Abram’s nephew (Abram’s name was not changed to Abraham until God made the second covenant with him regarding becoming the father of a host of nations) and Abram took Lot with him as he set out for the land of Canaan. As they were traveling in stages toward Bethel it became clear that the land they were on could not support both Lot and Abraham’s possessions and there were quarrels between the herdsman of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. Lot then was offered to go either right or left and Abram said he would choose the opposite direction. Lot ultimately settled among the cities on the plain of Jordan, pitching his tents near the city of Sodom. Lot and his family were surrounded by evil and two angels protected him and his daughters from the evil intentions of the townspeople. Lot was urged immediately to take his wife and daughters and leave Sodom. Lot’s son-in-laws thought he was joking. Lot fled but his wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. What is instructive in all of this is that we can spend a lot of energy looking back in life and if we are not careful we will miss what is happening in the moment and miss out on the future. If you need psychological and spiritual healing, the first step is to admit that need and let someone wise into the most sacred part of yourself where you will share your fears, hopes, dreams, wishes, and vulnerabilities. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
Marriage is about so much more than a sexual relationship. It is a relationship between two thoughtful and intelligent human beings united by a special friendship. It is in marriage where new lives are conceived and find the human and material resources necessary to grow to maturity. This explicitly tells us that the family, a married couple plus children, is an institution of vital importance for society. Thus sexuality affects man very deeply and is the nucleus of social life. This is why “sexual discipline” has always been an imperative for any healthy society and this includes even non-Christians. A lack of sexual discipline is a significant symptom of social collapse. Now Christian teaching is very clear that a sexual life is a married life and sexual pleasure is only permitted in marriage and must be open to the generation of new lives. Sadly our culture trivializes sex to the point that sex is reduced to just another item for consumption. This trivialization of sex leads directly to a trivialization of love. Thus to trivialize love, the most noble of personal human relationships, makes it impossible to enjoy the happiness that it can produce. This is the love between spouses, the love found in family life, and of course the love found in friendships. When trivialized, love is reduced to the satisfaction of an instinct. Many aspects of literary and artistic productions exist based on exploiting a certain kind of physical pleasure. None of us are beyond temptation and we need to take the words of the Bible seriously when it speaks about our sexual behavior. Human happiness and the Kingdom of Heaven, the here and the now and the afterlife, are such serious matters that it is worth the effort to live well. There is an assault taking place on our “intimate selves” delivered through media and advertising and we have to react mainly because we are predisposed “to give in.” The central issue is about love and the nature of love. True love gives one the strength to live sexuality in an ordered manner. “Love, when it is genuine, is all-embracing, stable and lasting, an irresistible spur to all forms of heroism.” (Pope Paul VI) When love is great, pure, and generous, it has the strength to combat our lower desires, which can often be cruel and self-centered. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
The wonderful Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini, who wrote the opera “Madame Butterfly” among many other operas, was stricken with cancer while at work on his last opera “Turandot.” He told his students that “if I don’t finish it, finish it for me.” Shortly thereafter he died. “Turandot” is about Princess Turandot and is set in the Forbidden City in Peking, China (now called Beijing). Unfortunately Princess Turandot, while a beautiful woman, is also filled with hate and rage toward men because one of her ancestors was brutally slain by a conquering prince. Her heart is literally “ice.” However anyone who can answer three questions that are posed as riddles will be able to marry her and very soon a Prince Calaf becomes smitten with her beauty and is willing to answer these questions. Others who have not been able to answer these questions are put to death. The first question is, “What is born each night and dies each dawn?” The second question is, “What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?” And lastly, “What is like ice but burns?” Prince Calaf answers these three riddles with, “Hope, Blood, and Turandot!” Now Turandot is quite dismayed by these answers and begs her own father not to turn her over to a stranger, in fact she does not even know his name. However if she can learn his name by dawn, Calaf agrees to forfeit his life. At this point a young slave girl, named Liu whom Calaf had smiled upon in the past, reveals that she does know Calaf’s name. Turandot has her tortured to reveal Calaf’s name but she remains silent. Turandot asks the girl her secret as to why she can endure such pain and Liu replies, “Love.” Turandot filled with further rage orders the torture to be intensified but Liu snatches a dagger from one of the soldiers and takes her own life. Turandot is now alone with Calaf who takes her in his arms and forces her to kiss him. Turnadot, knowing physical passion for the first time in her life begins to weep and Calaf tells her his name. Turandot approaches the throne of the Emperor and announces Calaf’s name which is “Love.” In 1926 Puccini’s favorite student, Arturo Toscanini, conducted and directed the premiere of “Turandot” in Milan, Italy. When the opera reached the point where Puccini was forced to put down his pen, Toscanini stopped the music and turned to the audience and cried out, “Thus far the Master wrote, but he died.” Suddenly a reverent silence filled the opera house. The Toscanini then picked up his baton and smiling through his own tears cried out, “But the disciples finished his work.” At the conclusion of the opera, the audience broke into a tumultuous applause. We are still in the season of Easter and the Master, Jesus Christ has died for our sins, risen from the dead, and will soon ascend to the right hand of the Father. If Jesus is the Lord and Saviour of your life, then how prepared and willing are you to help finish the Master’s work? If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
Many politicians do not want women having an abortion with “informed consent.” As a counselor who constantly lets clients know what to expect from therapy, I find this quite alarming. This is treating a woman with great disrespect and is not ethical. This issue has come up in Virginia where Republican lawmakers rewrote a bill to mandate that women have regular noninvasive abdominal ultrasounds before an abortion. Originally the bill called for an invasive procedure, a “transvaginal ultrasound,” but the Governor said that he wanted to change the terms of his support for this bill because he said he did not realize that the law would require an invasive procedure (the transvaginal ultrasound). Sadly, Democratic lawmakers were not even satisfied with the regular noninvasive procedure. Shouldn’t a woman ready to permit the removal of her baby from her womb have to look the child in the eye first before deciding? However the law doesn’t require a woman even to listen to the heartbeat. The law does say the woman has an “opportunity” to see exactly what she is doing. The crux of the problem is that people do not want to take responsibility for what they are actually doing. Why is it wrong to “upset” a woman when the life of an innocent child hangs in the balance? No one is taking away a woman’s right to end the life of her child. The bill in Virginia simply asked a woman to make “informed consent” meaningful by facing the truth. After listening to many stories from women who have had abortions, I have noticed a pattern of most abortions being knee-jerk reactions and hence an impulsive decision where the consequences are given little or no thought. Often the mother faces pressure from a boyfriend who is more than willing to have sex with her but has little desire for fatherhood. Women suffer emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually for years and even decades after an abortion. Had the decision been rationally formulated via informed consent there would be much less suffering amongst women. So many pregnant women just get scared and want to make the whole situation just go away. Abortion would appear to be the perfect antidote. When one is fearful one does not make rational or reasonable decisions. Those decisions are driven by emotions. A woman is not doing something noble by sacrificing her baby for some vague cause. She will become another victim only this time the truth will be very painful to face. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
There are two types of relationships: inherited and acquired. Inherited relationships are the ones you are born into (mostly family) and acquired relationships are the ones you choose. Inherited relationships often carry a powerful sense of bonding and fundamental commitment or obligation. Acquired relationships, because they are chosen, raise the stakes and you may have to work harder to maintain them. That is why you must think more clearly about why you chose an acquired relationship in the first place. Acquired relationships require work and a lot of energy. They are the result of decisions. The family is the first “school of relationships” and it is clearly known that how we relate to our future spouse or others, is shaped in our family of origins. Thus inherited relationships can have a lasting impact on all our relationships throughout our lives. However this does not mean that our personalities, our behaviors, and our choices are completely determined by these inherited relationships. We are capable of deep insight and change. An inherited relationship does not seal our fate as we are capable of making decisions and exercising our free will. Acquired relationships are the people we choose to share our life with. While inherited relationships include more of a sense of duty, acquired relationships are more spontaneous and are the result of an attraction between two different personalities or even a sense of compassion. Inherited relationships can foster your personality, your character, and your interests or if they are troubled and negative, they can foster a sense of hesitancy and self-doubt when coping with life’s challenges and opportunities. In acquired relationships, your friends and romantic interests are present in your life because you have decided they are important to you. Acquired relationships give you more freedom but with freedom comes responsibility and precisely because you choose, you must be very careful as to who you let into your life. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
The last complication (#7) in building a solid foundation is the “undecided male,” the man who is fearful of making a commitment. A young man may have even responded to a young lady’s eagerness by proposing to her but somehow he is not emotionally ready. This happens very often because of premarital sex where the young man has already gained some gratification and he thinks he doesn’t have to worry so much about making the commitment. A significant percentage of couples become sexually intimate early in the process of getting acquainted and the “goods” are delivered without much emotional involvement or connection being made. Another factor that contributes to the “undecided male” phenomenon is that the young men are immature and don’t really know what they want, except sex. Also the type of fathering young men have experienced is almost non-existent. If a young man lacks a male mentor, what concept of fathering will these men have as they grow up? Little or none. Look carefully at what can complicate your choices and decisions because if you do you will be better prepared to create the relationship you truly desire. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
I have been writing about the complications that individuals encounter when building a solid foundation in a relationship. To review briefly the first four are anxiety over the more recent approaches in searching for love such as the Internet, being confused about the image of what we might desire in a person and basing it on images the media or culture bombard us with, looking for perfection in others when it doesn’t exist, and the tendency to rush, rush, and rush into a relationship “right now.” Complication #5 is perhaps the most damaging and confusing for young couples, the rush to sexual intimacy. Very often couples become sexually involved with each other before they have established closeness on other levels first. In our society many people connect in a very intimate physical way with partners they haven’t gotten to know. This does not lead to a solid foundation for a relationship. The risks are: mistaking your physical relationship for your entire relationship, neglecting to learn about each other’s nonphysical attributes, delaying the establishment of deep trust and open communication, and feeling vulnerable to misunderstandings or hurt feelings due to the complexities of a sexual relationship. This rush to intimacy can complicate and burden a relationship rather than strengthening it. Complication #6 has to do with mainly young women who find themselves in a position, for whatever reason, of delaying marriage and child bearing to the point that their family and even society can pressure them into a relationship that is ill-advised. The birth of any child should be the result of a carefully considered sequence of choices. These choices should be made within the context of a stable, loving marriage-not as a goal to achieve at all costs. Scrambling to find a relationship at all costs to make motherhood possible means a woman may settle for a less-than-ideal relationship. Also it is okay to be single. Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and prayerfully. Strive to attain fulfillment as a spouse and as a parent but don’t be so hasty that you jeopardize your long-term happiness. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.