- Will he/she make a good parent?
- Can I trust this person completely?
- Will I fit into his/her family system?
- Do we have common goals?
- Is there any hint of abusiveness, physical or emotional?
- Is he/she emotionally mature?
- Are there any addictions that are not healed (drugs, alcohol, spending, sex)?
- Are there any character issues that worry me (lying, angry, irresponsible, needy)?
- Will we be partners, both carrying the weight of the relationship or will one person function more like a dependent child?
- Do we resolve conflict effectively?
- Do we apologize and forgive easily?
- Is he/she possessive, jealous, manipulative or controlling?
- Do I feel safe with this person?
I love being on the receiving end of wisdom from my counseling clients. Often they will bring snippets of useful information that I can store away in my toolbox to bring out as warranted.
This week I heard this statement from one of my younger clients:
Wow – what a difference from the more common
“Why should I? What’s he/she done for me?”
The truth is he or she has probably done a lot for you. Or it is entirely possible that they haven’t because of the above attitude. I remember Sarah Eggerichs comment in the “Love and Respect” conference video:
“Why wouldn’t you give your husband sex if he wants it? It’s an easy enough thing to do and it makes him so happy.”
(Right about now some husbands are thinking “I like this blog — I should share it with my wife”)
Of course there are always exceptions, but she is speaking to the far greater percentage of good willed marriages. I thought at the time “That’s a pretty mature attitude. Why didn’t I think of that?” I don’t know why I didn’t consider applying that same thinking to many other parts of relational life.
- Turn off the electronic stuff and engage in a connected conversation. This used to be a complaint I only heard from women, but I hear this more and more from men as well.
- Take out the trash without being asked. Enough said.
- Be on time for a change. Always late and worth the wait? Umm – maybe not.
- Don’t leave the gas tank empty. You might make somebody you love late because they have to stop and fill up.
- Make plans before the very last moment. I used to do this when we were dating. It drove Nan crazy. I still sometimes do this when it comes to making vacation plans. And I love vacations. What gives with that?
- Monitor your own spending. Don’t create a parent-child scenario by being irresponsible. It’s no fun for either one of you.
- Help with dinner and clean-up. Or make dinner even when you don’t particularly feel like it. Sometimes it’s seen as the measure of a good or troubled marriage.
What prevents this kind of thinking? Sorry, but it’s selfishness or not being willing to surrender in some kind of immature power struggle. I’ve done it — actually still do it at times. But I’m not proud of it, and it isn’t my goal.
Phil 2:3-4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.