All posts by Dave & Nan Dhuet

About Dave & Nan Dhuet

Counselors at Christian Assembly Church in Los Angeles, California.

The Road To Relationship

road relationship

I believe the road to relationship is paved with good intentions. All the things we intend to do to find and sustain a wonderful union are usually noble. We will be kind, generous, thoughtful and attentive. And we intend to find someone who is like minded. So how do some relationships go sideways with all these good intentions?

I think some wonky relationships can be traced back to the very beginning. Either our “picker” is broken or our process is flawed. Submitted for your consideration:

Attraction

Sometimes attraction can be almost instantaneous. We have this feeling that “we just know” this is the right person. Translation: My hormones are raging and the reason center of my brain just shut down. I am “crazy” in love. Nobody can talk to me because all I see is a romantic future with this person. I say somebody forgot to install brakes on this bus. Two such impulsive people are likely to be heading off a cliff in the future.

I think attraction is very important. Without it, sustaining a relationship can be quite challenging. Lacking attraction we may choose rationally, based on practical criteria. That’s important, of course, but not the stuff you want to depend on for intimacy. A fat paycheck and a hot meal is great, but it’s not the stuff of deep connectedness.

Character

This is the part of the relationship that takes time to know. Character is discovered over a longer period of time. This is where you watch to see if their words and their actions match up over time and through challenging situations. They “intend” to operate with integrity and virtue, but when things heat up they may melt. When temptation hits, they just can’t quite resist. Nobody can be perfect, but a little bit of infidelity can sour a sweet relationship, and a few little (or big) lies can break trust.

The Sex Factor

This is the fly in the ointment for many relationships. Once this boundary has been crossed, discernment is compromised. We are operating mostly from feelings and not rationality. We “feel” so close to each other. We “know” the other person. They are our “soul mate.” No, they are our sin mate and backing up the relationship becomes difficult. Throw in an unexpected pregnancy and we have just gone from 0-200 mph in 10 seconds flat.

Same Mistake, Different Person

We are generally attracted to the same type of person. This imprint can bite us when our tendency is to make bad choices. I especially caution those that are considering marriage for a second (or third) time to pay attention to this reality. Even if the externals look very different, people often pick the same character and personality repeatedly. This is where listening very carefully to outside counsel is essential.

What is the answer?

Take your time. Have fun the first six months, but don’t get too serious. Once a full year has gone by, it’s time to make a decision. Don’t linger on for years. Most characterological defects can be discovered adequately in one year and the chemical wash to the brain that makes us irrational will subside. Then if you can say “yes” to the person exactly as they are, then move forward. And pray that the good intentions become good follow through.

Hanging On To the Good Times

Good TImes

This week Nan went through a surgery and while she was at the hospital my 93-year old father was admitted to another hospital for rapidly failing health. Yes, in the same day. Although Nan’s has turned out to be successful, I don’t expect it to be the same for my father. These are times when all the past squabbles mean nothing and the happy memories are cherished. This is one of them.

But the lesson to be learned here is to anticipate a day like this, and put the things you do today into perspective. Whatever you create in the here and now is what you will have to look back on. And you never know when “that day” will come.

We had prayerfully anticipated a good outcome for Nan’s surgery although there were some unknowns. But as anyone who has had a hospital procedure knows, you sign a lot of paperwork that reminds you of the scary reality – there is always a risk of things going badly.

Over my lifetime I have let anxiety rule some of my choices. I have not done things that would have created good memories for Nan and me. And because of my sinful nature I have created some bad ones, too. As I sat in the hospital waiting for the surgery to be finished I thought: “What if this was it? What if there were no more memories to be made?”

I think it is human nature to believe that you will always have enough time to do what you would want to do. But it’s a lie. You can miss it. Circumstances change. Health and energy fades. The years get away from you while you raise kids and go to work.

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2

This isn’t a justification for going out and blowing all your money or abandoning all your restraints. Most of what is important will fall into other categories. It’s about investing your time wisely. It’s about being kind in your relationships. It’s about taking vacations and talking to each other rather than staring at your smart phone or computer. It’s about not accepting overtime just so you can buy more “stuff”.

I had an offer from someone to sit with me at the hospital. That meant a lot. That’s what true friendship looks like. Our church encourages building that kind of community and those kinds of relationships. Even the hard times can be good times if you don’t face them alone.

So what are the good times you want to hang on to?

As I get older some of the ones I used to think were good times are now regretful memories. We all have a past, so perhaps you are like me. These days I am more concerned with building significant or eternal ones. How about you?

Whining – The Achilles Heel Of Leaders

Whining

I was thinking about great leaders – you know – the ones that inspire trust and confidence. One quality I readily recognized was their ability to manage their emotions. In times of stress they are able to express feelings like sadness, disappointment or anger with dignity and restraint. You rarely hear a great leader whining, because they know they will lose respect from those they lead.

What is so bad about whining? It is a not-so-subtle way of blaming. It is a form of giving up power and shunning responsibility. Those are not qualities that we seek in a leader. We want our leaders to show strength in the face of adversity. We want them to be able to bear the weight of challenges and crises.

On the receiving end, I have observed that leaders are drained by whiners. Show me a leader with a heart, surrounded by a bunch of complainers, and I will show you a tired and frustrated man or woman. The great leaders are not crushed by them, but are burdened with the extra, and often unnecessary load.

I am sure that all you moms and dads out there would agree. Whining kids (especially teens) can make the day seem longer than it should be. And ask a husband or wife with a perennially whining spouse if they look forward to going home after a long work day.

You don’t have to be the leader of a country or large corporation to qualify as a leader. Any collection of people will have a leader, if only informally. Every family has a leader. For 27 years my partners and I led a small business and it was a challenge to keep our complaints among the three of us and not share them with our employees. I acknowledge that we failed many times, and then had to deal with the fallout. I know we lost respect.

 If you are a leader what can you do?

First and foremost a leader must have a safe place to process their feelings. They must be able to release the negative energy that builds up around responsibility.

Secondly a leader must be intentional about communication. He or she must have a good “filter” and rehearse important messages.

Thirdly, a good leader must develop a tough skin and manage what may feel like personal attacks. Often the opposition is to the situation rather than the leader herself. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it really is a direct hit.

Lastly, a leader must expect that whiners are part of the package. Choosing or accepting a leadership position means that when things get tough or go wrong the leader will become a target. They must demonstrate care for those who are challenging them. In short, they must be the calmest and most mature person in the room.