Are You Superior?

Superior

Every once in a while you meet someone who is perfect. They are never wrong. God has given them permission to hold the moral high ground. Sin is what other people do, not them. No, they would never really admit that, but they just know it.

I am always amazed by these people when they end up in my counseling office. When it comes to relationship issues they are 100% not the problem. That’s because they are, well, superior. They hold lesser individuals with contempt and feel justified. When we ask them to talk about their part in the relationship difficulties they are silent. They own nothing because they are blameless.

You find these people on social media, too. They are always expounding on the ignorance of others – on the issues that morally superior people like them understand, but that others don’t. Well, unless those others think like they do.

Don’t confuse intelligence and wisdom with superiority. Superiority is an attitude, a state of mind, not an indication of how smart you really are. Many very intelligent people are also humble.

It is really hard to be in relationship with superior people. Their arrogance is so off-putting. I know this kind of behavior is often labeled as low self esteem. Somehow it takes some of the sting away when we can view them as wounded. But it doesn’t make working on problems any easier. And it flies in the face of Philippians 2:3 which says:

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” 

When you are with these people they can be quite confusing. Is it me or is it them who is not seeing clearly? I feel their hostility towards me, but I’m not sure I’m at fault. They can appear compassionate at times, but it feels so condescending. What’s wrong here?

Is There A Solution?

The sad news is that often these people don’t change unless they are faced with a trauma in their lives whose root points inescapably to them. It might be a divorce or other relationship breakup or a major career upset. Then the façade starts to crumble.

If you are in a relationship with a superior person, you should treat them with kindness, but set definite boundaries, both with them and with yourself. Self disclosures about your weaknesses will probably be met with contempt and be used against you. Don’t worry – they will be happy to point out your flaws. And don’t try to point out  theirs or try to fix them. It will be fruitless and it will open you up to more of their condemnation. Instead, practice loving detachment. Emotionally distance yourself as far as is necessary to not get wounded. Sometimes that can be out of the relationship.

Responding with gentleness, but firmness is what is needed if you see them beginning to break denial and face themselves. If I am describing you, the most helpful thing I can recommend is a (Christian) 12 step program.

Can You Avoid Debt Conflict?

moneymon

When it comes to marital conflict the same three areas always come to the top: money, sex and children. Yes, communication is always cited as the problem, but it’s usually about one of those subjects.

I really appreciate the team that teaches alongside us twice a year when we offer a six week marriage preparation class. I gain wisdom by learning from them as well. One of the questions that is often posed to our financial teacher, Howard, is on the subject of good debt. His answer is always the same:

“There is no good debt.”

For some this is pretty shocking news. But when they dig deeper with him he isn’t saying all debt is to be avoided. He just is reflecting the biblical truth of Proverbs 22:7:  Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender. Whenever you borrow money you place yourself at some level of risk. It’s the use of the money that determines the wisdom or foolishness of the risk you are taking.

So rather let’s talk about unproductive versus productive debt.

Appreciating assets, like a home in a stable area, is a lower risk when the mortgage payment is affordable. We all need to live somewhere. That is productive debt. So is investing in your own business when it is profitable and likely to continue making money.

Then there are depreciating assets, like cars, recreational vehicles, boats, appliances, timeshares etc. Some may be pretty necessary, but these fall into a different category of risk. If you try to sell any of these items you will probably lose money. My advice: buy any of these items with cash from your savings if you possibly can. And if you can’t buy a luxury item (like an RV) cash, don’t buy it at all. You can’t afford it.

School Debt

This one always gets talked about in class. Is school debt good? Again, Howard would say no. All debt puts you in bondage and should be avoided, or eliminated as quickly as possible. Is education a good investment? It can be if the degree you buy has good return potential. If you spend a reasonable amount for the training necessary to get a good paying job then it was a worthy investment. If you spend a lot of money to get a low paying job, or you invest in a pretty worthless degree, then it is not. The same thing would apply if you train for an overcrowded or declining field.

Then lastly there is the category of foolish, unproductive debt. This would include borrowed money for vacations, eating out, entertainment, presents, etc. It’s the items that people often put on a credit card that is not paid off at the end of the month.

Hopefully you are not putting basic expenses on a credit card unless it is a significant  emergency. If you are, then your budget needs to be adjusted, maybe radically. There will be a sense of loss as you embrace reality. Expect it. But what may happen is some of the conflict in a relationship may go down, your anxiety will go down, and your hope for the future will increase.

One Fatal Flaw in Dating

Dating

Many years ago I was standing at the front counter of a dental office in Lawndale and the woman behind the desk was listening to Dr. Toni Grant, a radio psychologist. Dr. Grant was involved in a conversation with a young woman who was complaining about a relationship that she was in. “What’s wrong with him!” she whined. Dr. Grant was kind but firm:

“The problem is with you. You choose the wrong type of man. You are chasing excitement. Don’t you know that all good men are a little bit boring?”

This has stuck with me all these years because it is true – but I would say it applies to both men and women equally. Bad boys and bad girls. They are exciting, but you wouldn’t want to marry one, because they are relationally unstable. They are usually temporary and most often will hurt you eventually.

What are the indicators of these personality types?

  • Their lives are chaotic – financially, relationally, etc.
  • They take unnecessary or foolish risks – drugs, alcohol, sex, speeding, spending, gambling, etc.
  • They keep parts of their lives obscured and secretive.
  • When things go wrong they blame you, or others.
  • They advertise but often don’t deliver on their promises.
  • They leave a trail of broken relationships.
  • They control the relationship. You are always subject to their time schedule, desires and expectations.
  • They are selfish and always have an excuse for their behavior. They connect intensely and withdraw intensely.

If you have been, or are in a relationship with one of these people I am sure you can add to my list. It can be difficult to break this addiction to the wrong type. You may think the trade-off is worth it, but I guarantee you it is not. Eventually the buzz wears off and the pain and damage remains.

Is there hope for you or them? Of course. People can change, but it is very difficult. Often the question is “Do they (or you) really want to change?” or “Will they do the work that change requires?”. Going to counseling or recovery programs is not always an indication of either. It is a start, but not a finish.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (James 1:22 (NLT)

I am not equating the advice of a counselor to the word of God, but I am saying that hearing alone is not sufficient. We have had clients who have stayed for quite a long time, but never grew. They knew what to do, but never followed through. Sadly, they left counseling carrying the same weights they brought with them the first session. Happily, that is not usually the case.

If you find that you are attracted to the wrong type – take a break from dating until you make the necessary shifts. If you are the wrong type, the same advice stands. You have to become the kind of person that you want to attract – spiritually, mentally and physically.

It’s much easier to add some excitement to a relationship than it is to cleanup chaos in one. A little bit boring is healthy.