Saturday, December 30, 2006

Will I Ever Find A Partner Who's Good For Me? (Part 1)

That depends on you. And here’s why.
. Emotional Sickness is attracted to Emotional Sickness.
. Emotional Health is attracted to Emotional Health.
. You will not ever attract a partner who is markedly healthier than you are.
. If you want to attract an emotionally and spiritually healthy partner, then you must become an emotionally and spiritually healthy person yourself.

You might be one of those people who got out of an unhealthy marriage, and then you said, "Never again!" But it did happen again. And maybe it happened again after that. So you wonder, "How could that have happened when I was so determined to never let another person into my life who didn’t respect me? And how could that have happened, when I fully intended to find someone healthy?" The reason it happens again and again is because it doesn’t matter what you intend to happen. If your character hasn’t changed significantly, and if your values and morals haven’t changed a great deal, then nothing else will ever change and you will be with an unhealthy person again. It can’t be any other way.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have had, or that you will have the same types of problems as a former or future partner. What it means is that you are healthy or sick, to the same degree that someone who is attracted to you is healthy or sick. For example, lets say that a husband ignores his wife and is attracted to and flirts with teenage girls. I think we’d all agree that this person is emotionally unwell. However, I suggest to you, that the wife, who says nothing, rationalises away his behaviours and does nothing to protect her daughters, and their friends who have had to push off this man’s advances is just as unwell as her husband. It’s just that she is sick in a different way.
Or let’s take someone who is living with an alcoholic. People in the field of addictions have all heard that "the family gets sick along with the alcoholic." Well, the children will become sick, but the spouse of the alcoholic was sick to begin with. That is why s/he chose someone like that, usually with the goal of loving (read controlling) the alcoholic better.
I wish this could be a cheery little post that leaves you feeling all warm inside and confident about the future. But the reality of the situation is this. When you have rebelled due to sin in your life, and when you have ignored Jesus because it looked like a life without Him would be more fun, it is in your relationships that this damage, that this flaw, will show up most clearly. And the consequences can last a lifetime.
In order to keep your children from suffering any more than they already have, it’s time that you listen to Jesus’ commands about relationships, marriage and divorce, and don’t go down this road again.
The reason that I bring up divorce is that divorce and broken common-law relationships are a sign that something is terribly wrong in a person’s life. It’s a sign that there is something emotionally and spiritually wrong, certainly in one and probably in both people in the marriage. Divorce is a sign that either you have trouble judging character in others, and/or that your character isn’t suited to marriage. When God says don’t remarry after divorce, it’s because He is trying to protect you from more pain by asking you to not rely on the false god of relationships for your value, worth, security and belonging. Unfortunately, we think we know more than our Creator, and so we repeatedly try to prove that God is wrong.
By now you might be wondering what I’m talking about when I use the terms emotionally damaged, or emotional health. After all, you don’t feel damaged and you might even feel healthy. In fact some of your friends are much worse off than you are. Right? Despite how healthy you believe you are, based on the Bible and upon my observations from counselling, I view Emotional Health this way:
. You are able to have stability in relationships.
. You have honesty and integrity, ie. you don’t lie; not just ‘big’ lies, but any lie.
. You do not have to do what you want to do. In other words, you are able to say "no" to something wrong or harmful, no matter how much you want it. The opposite is just as true. Emotional health is when you’re able to make yourself do a good job at something that you don’t want to do.
. You are able to distinguish wrong, harmful, life-destroying behaviours from good, healthy, life-enhancing behaviours. For example, do you actually know whether living together before marriage is damaging or constructive for a future marriage? How about stealing a little bit from a big company? Is that always harmful or is it sometimes OK? Do you know the answer?
. Your inside matches your outside. Who you are in private is who you are in public.
. You abide by a Moral Code not of your own creation, ie. right and wrong are not relative to the situation.
. You don’t need to be in a relationship to feel whole and OK about yourself.
. You are responsible and mature in thought, word and deed.
A person with these qualities will not attract, nor will he/she be attracted to an emotionally unhealthy person. An emotionally, spiritually and psychologically unhealthy person will find the kind of person just described above to be boring and unattractive. Unhealthy people view kindness and goodness as being weak. For example, an unhealthy person will try to provoke an angry response or a rejecting response in her/his marriage partner. And when the negative response isn’t forthcoming, the unhealthy person will view the other as a wimp.
And before you say anything about the above list, YES these kinds of people do exist. If you don’t know any, then you need to change your circle of friends. The reason that these points are evidence of emotional health is because I never see these kinds of people in counselling for relationship issues. There is no need for them to come for help because they have peace in their lives; they know the Giver of peace on a personal level and they obey Him out of love and appreciation for what He has done in their lives.
When looking for a future partner, instead of looking for the quality characteristics listed above, an unhealthy person might say something like, "Can she dance?" "Is s/he cute?" "Does he like to party?" "What kind of a car does he have?" "Does she make a lot of money?" "Is he popular with others?" "He’s kind of wild and dangerous, I like that." They won’t care one bit if this is a person of integrity. Instead their lives display a philosophy of "show me some attention and I’m yours."
Developing a character of integrity is extremely important IF you want a quality relationship. On the other hand, developing a character of integrity is a side-benefit of receiving a healed, forgiven, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. History is filled with examples of the worst human beings having their character being completely turned around after giving their lives to Jesus.
Regardless of all that, the facts of relationships are these: -
. As far as you are from emotional health, so too will someone be who you are attracted to.
. As far as you are from emotional health, so too will someone be who is attracted to you.
. As far as you are from spiritual health, so too that person.

. As far as you are from being ready for a healthy relationship, so too that person.
End of Part 1

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