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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breaking the Anti-Love Bond

PICTURES ARE INCREDIBLY RICH AND CAPTIVATING. A family walks out of a takeaway restaurant. The father jumps straight into the driver’s seat and leaves his wife to get the three very young children into the back of the family SUV—a process taking about a full minute. Is there anything wrong with this picture so far?

Too many relationships feature one selfish partner where the other shoulders much of the burden of the work. The anti-love bond is clearly showing in these relationships.

It shows up in the selfish one—they, in their selfish laziness, are not lifting a finger they don’t have to. They clearly don’t understand that love is a verb—it’s action to help and care for the other partner.

The anti-love bond is enlivened too in the partner picking up the pieces all the time; their commitment waning—it’s all they often have left. I pictured the wife of the guy profiled above as just holding out for him to go back to work—for a little relief. I couldn’t have seen him lifting much of the weight off her shoulders at home.

And men can be classically of this ilk. If they’re the sole bread-winner they might often sit on their hands at home, expecting to be waited on hand and foot. Yet, men like this are little boys—they’re not men at all, least of all gentlemen.

And what of the woman? She might create or perpetuate this bond by taking undue advantage of her power over the financials (if he’s not the budget-Nazi). And yet, with her and all the kids clad in designer apparel and having the latest mod cons, she’s not going to be any happier. Nothing makes it better for her; she needs a loving, considerate and respectful husband. Nothing else will compensate.

The only way I can see to break this anti-love bond that’s permeated a relationship is to challenge it. No partner deserves selfishness. Every married couple deserves one hundred percent from their partners most of the time—I say most of the time because none of us are perfect. Everyone slips.

A loving partner reminds patiently where it is required. The loving partner who receives the reminder should accept it gladly and not need constant reminding for the same things.

No partner should get away with wanton selfishness. Not only is the other partner not getting what ‘they signed up for,’ think of the kids—they’re getting the wrong example of what married life should look like. Their models of marriage are being damaged. They’re likely to become either oppressors or doormats. They’ll not know what love is supposed to look like—the constant seeking to give to the other.

Selfish people are living their child-lives all over again, or perhaps they never stopped being kids?

Consider what the apostle Paul said, in direct relationship to love:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

~1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV).

Paul is saying that to love, we must put childish ways behind us.

Men and women who routinely put themselves first have not learned the responsibility of proper adulthood. Yes, it’s a tough life. But two are better than one and the design of marriage is that both partners must pull together, for each other, for the kids, for the family. Life gets a lot easier this way.

Marriage partners ought to hold each other accountable to reasonable standards of adult behaviour if their partners cannot be self-accountable. This is not being tough; it’s just being fair.

It’s simply essential maintenance to prevent a marriage getting or being sick.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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