We all want to be loved. We all (hopefully) want to give love to others. If we don’t receive love from others, and if we don’t give love to others, we may become self centered and isolated from society. We may become negative, pessimistic, and bitter. As we try to find love, we form relationships and dependencies with others. Sometimes those relationships are destructive and harmful to us. Some persons enter a relationship thinking their partner is a kind and loving person, only to find out days, months, years later that the person is really the opposite. If we are to have happiness and satisfaction in our relationships, we must discern if our partner really is a kind and loving person, or if that appearance is merely a temporary facade for a different, more sinister person. In writing this essay, I will discuss a way that we can begin to tell if our partner really is a kind and loving person. I will refer to “he”, “him”, but my comments apply to women as well as men.
He’s cute & he says he love me
Many of us make a serious mistake in choosing a relationship because we believe what the person says to us. He says he loves us, and we cling to that because we hunger for love. We believe that how the person behaved when we first met is an indication of his true personality. He treats us as if we are a queen, but then, later on, he begins to treat us as if we are a slave. In this essay, I’m suggesting that we initially look beyond what the person says, beyond how the person initially behaves toward us. I’m suggesting that we look at the person’s attitude towards himself, the person’s attitude towards us, and the person’s attitude towards our loved ones. After we understand his attitudes, we must look at his actions to determine if they support or contradict his attitudes and statements. My suggestion is not a silver bullet and won’t solve all relationship problems, but I believe it will help, because it will help us understand the other person in a way that he probably can’t camouflage for very long.
Pardon me, but your attitude is showing
OK, so we want to understand the attitude of a friend, a fiancé, a spouse, but how do we do that?.
When the person speaks and acts, is he thinking of himself or of others? Who is he trying to make happy, you or himself?
The more a person thinks of others rather of himself, the more he is likely to be sincere in what he says and does. The more he thinks of others, the more he is likely to create an environment in which happiness can flourish. And, the opposite is true. The more he thinks of himself, the more he is likely to create an environment in which he expects others to satisfy his needs. Thus, we need to go past his statements and actions, and understand his attitudes towards himself and those around him.
If he says he loves you, try to understand why he is saying that. Is he expressing his sincere affection for you, or is he trying to manipulate you to his benefit. If he buys you a gift, is he expressing his sincere feelings for you, or is he trying to buy your allegiance to him.
Persons trying to manipulate others often attach conditions to their expressions of love. A common expression heard in relationships that are in trouble is, “If you loved me, you would do such and such.” The person making that statement is trying to manipulate the other person. He is using guilt to control and change the actions of the other person. His thoughts are strongly centered on himself.
I knew a man once who was jealous of his children. His wife would do kind things for their children, and he would criticize his wife for not doing those things for him as well as for the children. His feelings were centered on himself, not on his children or on the kindness of his wife.
Christ is the Way
If we are to have joy in our relationships, each person must follow the scriptural injunction to have charity, the pure love of Christ. Charity is unconditional. Charity reaches out to bless others. With charity, we love a person because they are who they are, not because of what they can do for us. We love them regardless of their weaknesses. With charity, we give love to others and expect nothing in return. With charity, our thoughts are focused on the other person, and we want the other person to be happy. We do things to make them happy, with no regard for our own happiness. To the degree that our relationships are centered on charity, to that degree we will find the joy that Christ would have us have.
Some people are charitable by instinct. The rest of us have to learn to be charitable. We do this by showing kindness to others and by giving service to others. We do this by giving up our own desires and doing things that please the other person. We do this by forgiving those who have hurt us and by not holding grudges against them. We do this by making Christ the center of our lives, our role model. “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you” is a good slogan for finding happiness in our relationships.