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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trouble in Paradise – When Romance Works Out Wrong

SINGLENESS PRESENTS UNIQUE PROBLEMS. Some of us enter it after long marriages are torn. Others never found love that held long enough. Some never wanted anything but to be single, but then there are still others’ perceptions to manage. It’s a conundrum, much as life is.

By far and away nearly all of us want a partner to share our lives with.

So then the inevitable happens. We find ourselves attracted to someone, and wouldn’t we know it, the attraction’s returned! We go into rapturous love orbit—our world has changed overnight. It’s almost too good to be true.

The trouble is, more than occasionally it is too good to be true. Our “dream” partner is not quite as perfect as we thought he or she would be. Once the romance wears off, this is certainly true. This can be the down side to having a partner, particularly in view of the initial “promise.” For all they ‘do for us’ there’s a lot more we have to put up with; but having a partner is not really about us being happy all the time, is it?

Strangely many people go into relationships thinking that it’s all about them. Of course, this is madness. What if both partners did this? The relationship would be doomed before it even crawled off the floor.

Being single or being in a relationship both have their pros and cons. No one gets it all ways.

But, what about when we begin dating and the early signs are very promising and we allow our expectations to ride on the crest of that wave, but then we’re suddenly left crushed? Something totally unexpected occurs—as often happens with love.

Our trust was well-founded—we had to trust and be honest with this potential mate—but then we got trounced. We hold ourselves baked and bruised, wondering what on earth went wrong. We held out for this love and were determined to do things properly—now we’re punished for being good?

We have, of course, every reason to feel betrayed and ensconced in dread. ‘What now? More singleness? What about you, God, why do you continue to rub my face in it?’

What advice do we give to ourselves? How do we regain our strength to have the hope for the next relationship—perhaps ‘the one’ we’ve been waiting for?

Well, for starters, it’s not God’s fault—how can a sinful human being (and we’re all sinners) who broke our hearts be anything from God—the Holy One who is in the heavens and who gives perfect gifts? It wasn’t God who betrayed us, it was this other person. It really has nothing to do with God. And God may not even be ‘preparing someone for us,’ as the cliché goes—it’s a crock and we know it, at least the way it’s often said, as an overworked and completely fake cliché. We can only ever tell if God’s “prepared” someone for us with the benefit of hindsight—i.e. afterwards.

It may just be up to us.

And I believe it is.

Why would we put ourselves in a situation for a second-rate or third-rate relationship, or even worse, an abusive relationship? We’d be better off staying single.

Relationship-making is a tricky business and it never pays us dropping our standards to the lowest common denominator in sheer desperation. We must have more faith to present cautiously, exercising as much self-control as we can muster.

When we ensure our standards are kept continually high we stand the very best chance—and it’s only a chance i.e. it’s no certainty—we’ll end up with a lovely partner who truly loves us and treats us respectfully; someone who’s trustworthy.

We can only achieve this end when we trust—not them, but God.

But, what is this about—‘trusting God?’ It’s really about setting the high standards we require—those inspired by our faith in God—and then trusting God one day at a time to build within us a resolve to keep to the standards. It’s setting our standards and maintaining them, trusting him to help us.

Again, it would be better to remain single than fall into a dysfunctional relationship. I know that sounds easy for a married person to say, but it’s true.

We’re not in this ‘game of life’ for a quick roll-on, roll-off time. We’re considering this life of ours a committed life—a life lived to defined principles and values, and we won’t consider others intruding on our space unless they’ll align with these minimum principles and values. When they can then we can trust them.

And in the meantime, and always, we trust God. He is our light and our hope. He alone.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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