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/.
Almost everyone struggles with the difficulties and the differences of opinion that arise from their relationships. For example, how can a couple bridge the gap between our culture’s romantic expectations about love (a recurrent theme in so many movies) and the reality of everyday domestic life together? Or how do you live with the differences that occur in a relationship where two totally different people must interact, compromise, and live together? How can you communicate effectively as a couple without hurting one another? How can couples reconcile the different cultural, familial, and individual expectations that you and your partner each may hold so dear? How do couples solve the problems and resolve the conflicts that occur in even the happiest of relationships? And finally, how does a couple nurture love over the years of a long relationship-especially given the demands that work and parenting exert on a married couple? In a happy relationship, couples must come to terms with all of these issues. In a conflicted relationship, the partners often feel frustration and pain because they cannot “get a handle” on the issues well enough to live in peace together. The very best marriages in the world will present spouses with issues that require adjustments, compromise, accommodations, and soul-searching. Human beings have an innate drive to be happy and fulfilled, and relationships are one of the primary ways that all of us express that desire. A presentation will be made in these blogs over the next few months to explore “Seven Paths” that can serve as useful guidelines to explore the “terrain” of your own relationship. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.