Firstly, the post identified respect (and not communication) as the single most important aspect of a relationship, as identified by people who have been married for 30-40 yrs plus. So then that suggested to me that before I get married, I have to make sure that I deeply respect this man, and that the mutual respect between us not only starts off strong, but also has the potential to keep growing over the course of our marriage. This of course begs the question: how do you know that you are going to keep respecting him 40 years from now? The answer I can think of is this, in addition to fervent prayer, to seek out someone who is deeply and genuinely grounded in determination for spiritual growth. Perhaps now would be a good time to reveal that I am possibly the one person who most needs to hear things like this. I need to keep reminding myself to insist on genuine groundedness, a life that is truly built on the rock of Christ.
Secondly I sat down and thought about my relationships and friendships that have lasted – versus my relationships and friendships that have not lasted. What do all my lasting friendships share in common? After all if I am the one looking forward to my own marriage, then clearly it makes sense to think not just generically in terms of “what makes a marriage last”, but what would make a marriage last for me? And thinking about it in those terms just seemed so obvious, and I asked myself why I had never thought about it in those terms before!
Here’s the thing: many, many, many, of my friendships do not last. I am the kind of person who often finds it hard to let go of physical possessions, but I throw away people so easily. I know that this is not a good thing, and candidly, I had often worried that I would demonstrate the same throwaway attitude to my own husband, that when he started annoying me I might lack the perseverance to see the marriage through.
And yet, a few of my relationships have lasted! There are a few relationships where I am still as excited about the people as when I first got to know them, and where they still fill me with admiration. And you know what, the key to all of these, too, is once again respect. Whenever I release someone from my life, it will generally be because of losing respect for them. Perhaps here is the thing: for me friendships equate to effort, and I cannot bring myself to expend any effort on anything or anyone where I fail to perceive any special value in them, as defined by their character. I have a finite amount of time in my day and in my life – why would I lavish this precious resource on what I perceive to be least valuable? Conversely, the friendships that I have not cut loose, and I bother to cultivate; the friendships that I shout about – there is a deep respect there. There is an admiration for the sincerity of their character. There is an admiration for the fact that people tell themselves the truth, and act accordingly. I naturally find these people valuable because they genuinely correspond to my values, or what I hold important.
I believe that this is the same with everyone. Someone out there might not find me valuable because what I represent does not truly correspond to what they esteem highly.
This is a reason why I believe that people should marry those people who truly share the same values as they do – from the heart. Sometimes what someone says that they value is different from what they actually do value. You know that you are supposed to highly regard something…but you don’t really. Your heart is actually drawn towards….As human beings we need to be honest with ourselves, and say “This is what I truly find important”. Sometimes we need to work on our hearts and train our hearts to accept the correct values. However, this requires recognising what is actually in our hearts to start with. For instance, deep down my heart is drawn towards lavish and luxury homes. Cars genuinely don’t move me. But give me a beautiful luxury interior and man, I’m drooling. And yet I know that this is not a true value for me. There is absolutely nothing wrong in and of itself with living in a beautiful house. Yet I am committed to a lifestyle of simplicity. I believe that this lifestyle of simplicity, and being able to live this way, is a beautiful gift that God has given me, as He also gives other people (but definitely not me!) the beautiful gift of being content in singleness. So every time the impulse wants to flash across my mind, and I “dwell” a little on how nice it would be to live in one of these houses, I have to uproot it from my thoughts, and replace it with a true value with what is important to me, the lives I would like to make an impact on. As much as I would love to live in this kind of luxury, I would rather give up all of it for the sake of being able to feed and school one more street kid, for the sake of one extra family being able to have a solid roof over their heads.
This might be the same for all of us in some way. Our hearts may actually be drawn towards other people for the wrong reasons, but we have to train our hearts on what is true and choose our spouses to fit within the values of what are true and right for what we aspire to be.