I was recently interviewed by a reporter from my local newspaper. He was working on an article about what couples need to address before getting married. Understandably, he wanted short answers to what feel like very complicated questions. I did my best to avoid offering short answers but doubt the article will reflect that effort. The whole thing reminded me how strongly we want quick and relatively painless routes to our desired goals.
Giving that interview rekindled a line of thought I've struggled with for the past number of months. That line of thought has to do with my own desire to find a quick and relatively painless route to the goals I've set for myself. The truth is that in order to successfully embark on the desired path, I first have to come to terms with myself. Coming to terms with myself demands the ability to thoroughly and compassionately take a "moral inventory" (to borrow a term from 12-step language) of my own life in all its dimensions. When taking this inventory, I've noticed the temptation to think that it's most important to catalog shortcomings, failures and flaws. Though noting those is essential, it is likely more important to note the places where I can exercise the courage to change...to live out the good things I want as opposed to bemoaning the flaws that block forward movement.
I suppose there's a fine distinction to be drawn between noting fear and noting occasions where I'm called to exercise courage. For me, there's an ease that comes with noting fear. I can rest in the truth and humility that comes with acknowledging fear. Noting an occasion that calls for courage, on the other hand, demands some sort of action. It calls for living something out...putting some "skin in the game." It's no more or less true than noting fear but it does seem more demanding.
So, what I'd say to couples going into a committed relationship and what I find myself saying to myself is, "Pay attention to who you are and do what you need to do to come to terms with that. It's a prerequisite to a successful relationship journey."
Jake Thiessen, PhD
I've been working with couples for a very long time. And, I love it! This blog is my attempt to communicate some of the things I've learned over the past 40 years.