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/.
Men and women do get lonely and certainly relationships are unquestionably important. However wanting a relationship “right now” can be costly. This urgency can appear too frantic and rushed much like ordering an item through the Internet. Again an irrational thought can spring to mind, “I don’t have time to get out and face the whole dating scene. I have so much to do!” So people feel pressured to get into what they think is a meaningful relationship too fast and that is the fourth complication in building a solid foundation for a relationship. Rush rush rush. Men and women sometimes interview each other as if they were screening applicants for a job. The process can approach an interrogation. Here is an example of a guy’s interview list, “How much time do you spend cooking dinner each night?” and “Do you use fresh ingredients or processed foods?” and lastly “Do you use cookbooks or do you just wing it?” I suppose I need to put a disclaimer on this and say, gentlemen don’t ask these types of questions if you want to find your soul mate! The primary danger in all of this rushing around is that you never get to know the other person. Instead of perceiving and really seeing the other person fully on his or her own terms, the pressure you feel to “move things along” may tend to force your vision to see only what you want to see and not reality. You may not be as open to the other person in all of his or her complexity, richness, and yes contradictions. If one only pays attention to beauty, “coolness,” and attributes of wealth and social status then that sense of hurry won’t lead to building a good solid foundation in your relationship. Here is what I most often see in couples who resort to rushing: Rushing means you get into the relationship too fast which can lead to one or both parties feeling hurt, deceived, or confused about the “terms” of the relationship; rushing means that you are more likely to get deeply involved before you really know if the other person is what you are looking for; rushing risks the situation of ordering goods “on impulse” and after committing yourself discovering that what you have “ordered” is not what you bargained for; and lastly rushing makes it harder for you and the other person to get to know each other beyond an initial, superficial level which can lead to short-term misunderstandings, disillusionment, and resentment, and in the longer term to an unstable marriage and even divorce. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
Too many people form relationships based on externals that really have little or even nothing to do with the reality the person yearns for or really needs in the long term. Examples can be a woman who falls in love with a guy because he looks like a guy who can just sweep her off her feet or a man who falls in love with a woman because of her great figure or sexy manner of dress. However it is very possible that the guy may not be willing to affirm her or that the woman really isn’t very patient or loyal. Basing a relationship on image isn’t a great way to build a strong foundation and this can also lead to the third complication, images of perfection. Perfect human relationships do not exist. Some relationships are wonderful but even those require hard work, and they are even far from perfect. The very definition of perfection is “to be without flaw” or “free from error.” However this contradicts a basic human truth: we are all ultimately flawed! We are far from perfect as are our relationships with others. However we are bombarded from many sources that tell us “younger is better” for everything including looks, jobs, and image. There is constant striving for external youth via pills, creams, surgeries, diets, and exercise. Ask yourself these two questions, “Will these external changes really make a difference for you or will these changes meet your inner most needs?” Society has told us that we are worth what we look like, in essence saying we are worth what others see. This is not true and is a false belief that can distort so much in our lives. Pursuing perfection in relationships does not lead to happiness and an individual can save themselves a lot of distress and anxiety that often leads to disappointment and frustration, by dropping the false belief that there can be perfection in others. Look closely as to whether you have unrealistic expectations of others. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
Last week I wrote about the confusion and anxiety over the more recent approaches, such as the Internet, to search for love and mentioned that we would be focusing on the 7 paths to strong and lasting relationships. The first path is to build solid foundations. I also mentioned the first complication within that path as being a sense of unpredictability in how to go about searching for one’s soul mate. The second complication is the images of what we want not being shaped by our inner needs but by Hollywood, the fashion industry, and the media. Unfortunately the “shopping list” of demands of what people want in a mate is comprised by expectations of “must-have” features that spring up from who knows where. These expectations could arise from our inner needs or they could come from the culture surrounding us. The detailed, picky specifications that people express about ideal mates can become obstacles that prevent them from connecting with reality. Physical attraction, for example, does not always translate into a long-lasting profound relationship. You do not find your lifetime partner as a result of only an initial attraction. In fact that initial reaction can be brought down a few notches when we listen or speak to people and get to know them. In our society we do indeed have a tendency to “judge a book by its cover” and we really don’t look inside. We stay on the surface and this impairs our ability to get know someone on a deeper level. As a counselor when I am told things like, “I am sleeping with a stranger” or “I don’t know this person anymore” or ” This isn’t the person I married” it can mean they fell into the trap of only knowing someone on a superficial level. The stuff of real relationships is being able to see into another person’s heart and to find the treasure that lies within. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
The English poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, sufficient unto himself.” There are those who appear to be completely self-sufficient but these self-sufficient types are mostly out of touch with their own needs, desires, and feelings. Everyone needs someone. Thus begins the search for a “soul mate” or “someone I can share my life with.” However even with so many ways to meet people the one overriding complaint is the unpredictability of the process in the quest for love. There don’t seem to be any ground rules, no set patterns, and thus no clear sequence of steps to take. This can lead to a lot of confusion and anxiety. It would seem that our culture and society is simply “making up” the courtship dance. Without rules, people stumble, so it is not surprising that people grab at anything that will keep them on their feet. One of the serious problems with Internet matchmaking is that even though a person may list all of the features they desire in a person, does that mean you will “catch” the person you have cast your net for? After all, the Internet provides a very large “pond” in which to cast a net. Yet there are clearly mixed results and dissatisfaction that can result from reliance on this approach. One of the main reasons people don’t find what they want is that the vision in their mind of the ideal mate may not translate into reality. Very often people will post information on the Internet that is not truthful only to make themselves look better than they really are. Some potential partners present themselves in ways that can only be called “wishful thinking.” Being intrigued by a personality as it takes shape on a computer screen, a so-called “digital personality”, is taking a risk that may even complicate the task of finding a “soul mate.” If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.
The first path is “Build Solid Foundations.” To live is to relate and there really is no other alternative. From the moment of birth to the moment of death, a person deals with people in all sorts of relationships. No one cuts their own umbilical cord at birth and no one closes their own casket at death so we are dependent on others. Babies, for example, cannot survive even a few hours without the care and nurturance of other people. We are wired for relationships and have a natural drive for connection with others. Each of us has an inborn desire to reach out toward someone else. The experience of reaching out and connecting with others is what ultimately makes us human. No man or woman is an island. When we relate to others we develop and discover ourselves. Being human is a matter of how we relate and share ourselves with others. We need to love and feel loved. This does not mean interacting superficially. It means getting to know other people on deeper levels and building meaningful, lasting relationships. “Building Solid Foundations” means focusing on the perceptions, decisions, values, and actions that support and strengthen caring relationships over the long term. As an adult we are much more autonomous (able to act independently) than when we were younger. An individual can function on their own, live alone, work alone, and even play alone. But in spite of this so-called “adult” autonomy, there is a craving for a relatedness to others. There is a desire to connect with someone who will be a lifetime partner-someone who will be there through the ups and downs, share your dreams, who will give you a sense of meaning, and perhaps the person who will share the gift of parenthood during the child-rearing years. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.