Last year at this time, we heard a fantastic message on relationships by our Pastor, Jeff Kapusta at Lifepoint Church. He covered it all. Those dating, those not dating, & those of us that are married. I sure learned some things. He talked about those things we do in the beginning that we cease doing in time. Jeff still opens the car door for his wife 99% of the time after nineteen years of marriage.
Jeff talked about standards & he had a list of things that were really right on target. One of my favorite things he said that I have said countless times. Listen to your friends. The word friend is sacred to me. There is a huge difference between a friend & an acquaintance. A real friend is not only there for you at three a.m. but they want you to be happy. They are not petty or envious of your success. They are empathetic with you in your failures. If they are not these things you need new friends.
So when they tell you that you are in an unhealthy relationship....Listen. I don't care if you are in love or not. Don't be that fool like me that thinks you see something inside of them that your friends can't see.
I've been there when my friends told me to bail. I wish I would have been wise enough to have listened sooner. On the other hand, my friends love Julie. My best friend Jack, who is not given to a lot of emotion could scarcely speak at our wedding when it was time for him to offer a toast. Thankfully, he has a great wife too, Kelly, that helped him along with his speech.
Another aspect is, don't settle out of loneliness. It made me think of the worse kind of loneliness. It is not when you are alone for the Holidays. It is not when you are alone at a certain age. The worst loneliness is being lonely in a bad marriage. Trust me.
The fear of loneliness can drive people to one bad decision after another. I bet we all know people who simply can't be alone. They close one relationship out with another. I am no counselor but common sense should tell you that is not going to work.
Julie & I were both lonely but we both were in a position where we meant it when we said, "God if you are not in it we would rather be alone." Julie realized this much sooner than I. Of course she did should be the chorus line right now. I kept doing that thing that most people do. Let me get what I think I should have & God I will get around to you on the back end of my decision. Is it any wonder the divorce rate is 50%? I tell you why I did it my way. I did not trust God because if I did I would have wanted Him in it from the very beginning. But placing Him in it from the beginning would mean doing it His way. We want to do our way.
Julie & I did not do everything right but I will tell you one thing we did that I suggest everyone do. We were up front from the beginning. We kept throwing our cards on the table. I use the word deal breaker often. I wanted to know early if we were not on a path that would turn out differently than our history.
Think about it. You meet someone. You are falling for them & then you become hesitant because what if I share this about myself & they think it is too much? We didn't do that. I think within the first two to three weeks we had shared all the things we were afraid or even a little ashamed to share.
Julie did something early on that I can't even explain how much it meant. I shared one of my possible deal breakers & she looked at me with those kind, unwavering eyes & said, "You keep saying these things like that is going to be the one thing that causes me to walk out the door. I am not going anywhere." She meant it. She still does.
I thought about Jeff's list yesterday. I use to have one & it was before I turned the wheel of this life over to God.
1. Great Passion.
2. Great Communication.
3. Common Interests. (Now this does not mean that you have to love all the same things but you better have a few things that you enjoy doing together because if one of you gives in to what the other wants to do all the time there will be resentment that comes to play.)
4. Common Values.
I still think it is a pretty good list but here is the one I did not have back then. It should be the first one. Place God first. Trust Him to know what is best for you.
If you are single trust God. If you are married keep growing together. Don't allow today's minor problem to become tomorrow's major obstacle. Communicate with each other. Listen. No silent treatment.
I was confident that we would have a good marriage-even a great one because of two main things. We both wanted to put God first & we knew He was on board with our path. The second was we would both know not to take our life with each other for granted.
It had nothing to do with Valentine's Day last week when I looked at her & said, "Thank you for loving me at my worst." I have had the other love.It is not worth it.
We have made each other better. We are good for each other. Don't waste time in a relationship where you are not good for each other.
One last thing that Julie & I both do well. We walk in the other room & say, "I am sorry. I blew it." And it is over. No lingering drama. No carryover.
You know there is scarcely a day that goes by that I don't thank God for Julie. She is better than I deserved. A gift from God & no other woman has or could ever measure up. I pray that for all of you.
But Pastor Jeff, I do need to get that door thing back in the regular rotation.