Keeping It Real

During a counseling session I am always disappointed when I hear the phrase: “He/she shouldn’t … followed by whatever frustrated expectation that they hold. It could be:
“She shouldn’t get so upset.”
“He shouldn’t care about my weight.”
“She shouldn’t expect me to turn off the TV and talk so often.”
“He shouldn’t want to spend so much time with his friends.”
I could go on with a long list. I’m sure that you have your own if you are in a relationship. Even if you are not, you may have a generalized list for the opposite sex:
“Men shouldn’t expect…….”
“Women don’t really believe that a guy should……, do they?”
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it will keep you either outside of a relationship, or in a very conflicted or dissatisfied one. I am not saying that the expectations that people hold onto are necessarily good or bad – just that they are real. And if we want to be in a relationship with them, we will have to make peace with what is, rather than what we think it should be.
Before we are married we have the luxury of choosing whether we want to abide by the other person’s desires. We can ask ourselves “Can I live with this if it never changes?” Once we are married it is much more difficult. We can ask for changes, but we cannot demand them. If he drinks too much before you get married, he will probably drink too much after. If she is too emotional before you get married, she will still be emotional after the honeymoon.
It is fraudulent to make temporary adjustments for the sake of getting married, and then abandon the changes once the ring is securely on your finger. I have seen guys pay focused attention to their girlfriends during dating, and then nearly ignore them once they are married. I have seen women lose weight in order to attract a man and then rapidly put it back once they are married. There are people who feign interest in sex, sports, movies, music, church, parenthood and all kinds of things until they have settled into married life. This is just plain dishonest. I strongly recommend that you count the cost up front and decide whether you are willing to pay the price or not. Your integrity is on the line.
It may sound like I am being negative here, but that is not the case. My desire is that you would give up illusions in favor of reality, so that you will not be blindsided and disappointed in your relationships. People can, and do change, but we cannot depend on it. However, there are changes that I can make within myself that make me a better and more desirable partner. Those are the things that I can focus on that will make a difference.
As always I like to point to the fruits of the spirit as a great list of attributes to strive for in our personal development. According to Galations 5:22-23

 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As we end this year, remember to pick out your “word” for 2013. If you don’t know what I’m talking about — go back and read My Word.
Happy New Year — stay safe, and may God Bless you.

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