It is a myth of epic proportions that relationships work between the right people and fail between the wrong people. Today parents believe they got a bad egg, when their child does not behave. Men and women believe they married the wrong person, when their marriage is in shambles. We have the same thinking when it comes to our pets, we think we got a bad dog when it barks all the time, or chews the furniture.
In reality, no one drew the short straw. Everyone is in the same boat of needing to learn how to have healthy relationships. No one is going to birth a child that knows how to behave. No one is going to have a healthy marriage without learning how. No barking dog is going to bark less unless it is trained to do so.
If you burn everything you cook on your stove, you don’t buy a new stove to fix the problem, you learn how to cook. No one can cook without learning how. Some will learn from trial and error, some from cook books, some from parents or a friend, and some from You Tube. But no one just knows how to cook.
We did not do something wrong by not having been taught. But once we realize we want to cook and enjoy what we make, it is time to make the effort to learn. The myth that relationships work with the right people will keep us from realizing our problem is not a need for the right people, but the right training.
When we are properly armed with the right tools for healthy relationships, those tools help the other person too. When parents know how to teach their children, their children gain these tools early in life. Parents are always teaching their children about relationships even if it is only by example. Sometimes that teaching is good, sometimes it is not healthy at all, and most of the time it is a mixture of the two. Even in the healthiest of homes, there is always something more we can learn about relationships.
I work for a divorce attorney. Our office ought to have a revolving door to illustrate the process people begin when they seek divorce. The new relationship goes sour, sometimes a mere few months after they tied the knot. A year or two passes and the client is back for another divorce. They complain as bitterly about this person as they did the last. Then they bring in their next new love interest in for their divorce. Then they marry, have a couple kids, and have to find a new attorney to avoid conflict of interest. The children grow up and have children and now we have new custody cases to attend to, this time there is no spouse, just a baby’s daddy. The bewildered young person looks at their child and complains that he doesn’t listen or behave. They yell at the child for stepping into the street as if the child was born knowing not to do it. And the myth continues and we wonder why adults today do not know how to function in society.
We want to blame someone for the breakdown of society, but we all broke down when we started believing that people have innate knowledge to know how to be married or to raise children or how to manage a classroom of children.
Consider the words of Paul found in Titus 2:2-8:
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Paul wrote to Titus to teach the young and old in how to conduct themselves and for the older women need to teach the younger. What happens when the old of society are those were never taught? We think it a conspiracy, when it is simply natural decay. At some point we adopted the myth of common sense, that people are born knowing how to do life. The time before we knew something is long forgotten and we think we have always known it. We cannot blame people for behaving like apes when no one taught them how to live like humans were designed to live.
If we want healthy relationships, we need to learn all we can to make them healthy. We cannot wait for the perfect spouse, or for our children to reach an age where they start respecting us. We cannot hope that one day the kid will start being a proper child. Age does not bring maturity, wisdom does. Wisdom comes from above, but is taught from one generation to the next.
There are several books I recommend to get started in learning how to have healthy relationships.
- Loving Your Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk
- Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- Love & War by John and Stasi Eldridge
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
All of the above pull from the wisdom and teachings of Scripture to help lay a foundation for healthy relationships. As a society, we cannot afford our ignorance. Nor can we keep pointing fingers and blaming one group or another. To build a stable nation full of healthy families, we build brick by brick from where we are now, until we have stabilized our future.
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