Winning at relationships in a “me” world…


 Hi all! I have been a bit of a slacker as of late and did not stick with my goal of posting once a week. Last week was a bit tough: extreme fatigue, headaches, and a very non-compliant body. It made me extremely lazy (and procrastinate). I did what my mind and body thought was good, but had to force myself to do a couple of “wimpy” workouts. (Speaking of workouts, I hope you weren’t expecting a bunch of workouts on here…I’m realizing that I don’t really enjoy trying to teach exercises via writing and pictures- I’m a face to face kind of trainer. I will try to get another goodie out for ya soon though! They don’t call me Buff Grandma for nothing!) I didn’t even hike last week, and we had record high temps here in Colorado Springs. Oh, and I ate brownies and donuts over the weekend… I think I heard somewhere that they would help my MS?! Haha!
But seriously, I can’t beat myself up, and I have to remind myself that I have a disease that might force me to slow down sometimes. I am human (some personal trainers aren’t!) And I love my junk food occasionally. The problem is, so does my hubby. We can be so bad together! Especially when we decide to go to Whole Foods to pick up some kind of “healthy” dessert to go with our post-movie takeout dinner! But, we can be oh so good, too! I am extremely blessed to be married to my best friend for the past 24 years-someone who’d jump in front of a bus for me. Someone who hates to see me struggling or hurting. As a self-admittedly selfish man, he has a huge heart, and he loves me unconditionally… as I do him.
 So, how the heck are relationships, friendships or romantic, supposed to survive in a world where it seems like everyone is out for themselves? So many play the victim, are easily offended at anything said or done that is in direct opposition of their views, or are just purely selfish and self absorbed.  Why are mature, loving relationships so hard? You would think that when one is deeply in love with somebody that only positive words and actions would follow. But, “people are people” and it just doesn’t seem like that is the case with 90% of us. Ok, maybe it’s more like 100% of us! None of us love someone the way they should be loved 100% of time. If that happened, it’d be a perfect world, and that is definitely not the case! But, the world hasn’t totally gone mad, even though it seems we are well on the way sometimes. I truly believe we can still be the light in a dark world, and have amazing, loving relationships with one another. We are called to this kind of love, Christian or not.  Even though human beings are inherently selfish- maybe it goes back to the early days of survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, every man out for themselves. We have the ability, unlike most mammals, to show emotions, to love, and to choose HOW to love. Are we going to waste the potential we have for love by being rude, selfish, and hateful? Many will, unfortunately. Maybe they grew up in horrible conditions, no one showing them unconditional love, or literally had to fight for their survival. Some of us might have to work on it more than others, but it is possible, unless a true mental illness exists.
Genuine love isn’t “I love you and I want you to make me happy”, it is “I love you and I want you to be happy”. Ideally, before people come together in a relationship, each person should already embrace their own sense of self-love, self-fulfillment, and self-respect; then they can appreciate that in another. No one should expect another person to give him/her that sense of fulfillment.
A good friend recently made the comment that she finally realized after 25 years of marriage, that deep, down to the soul, long term love required her to “100% give up her own selfishness”.  Wow! Can you imagine not thinking about your own needs in a relationship? Just focusing on the other’s? What would happen? Complete Godly, other-self love. God is love! If we want the perfect example of love, it is in our Creator. Often, God’s love is referred to as agape love, which is the highest form of love: selfless and sacrificial. It is steadfast, unchanging, and unconditional. We shouldn’t love someone for what they give us or what we are getting. We should love for what we can give to him/her. The hope is, that the same would start to be returned to you… it’s a perfect cycle. The beauty we’d see in them would be a reflection of God’s love. To love in any other way is to be dependent on another, with expectations and demands, and will only set us up for disappointment.
So how many of you are shaking your heads at my words and wondering, “what about me? What if I am being treated horribly, or being abused emotionally or physically?” I am absolutely not saying to stay in a friendship or romantic relationship when the other person is abusive, using you, treating you badly, etc. I am talking about how to enhance relationships that aren’t already lost or dysfunctional, or even how to get a new relationship off to an amazing start. Maybe you’ve hit a rut in a new relationship and are starting to focus on all of the bad habits the other person has or the things the other isn’t  doing for you. Or maybe you’ve been together for decades and are finding yourself nagging again or feeling disconnected emotionally.
How about a little challenge as we start February, the month of love? What if you dedicated an entire seven days (it won’t make you “weak”!) to being as selfless as possible to another person, whether a friend that has been difficult, or your significant other/spouse? In every word and action, think first, “will this hurt or uplift the other?” What can you do to show someone you love them and are dedicated to his/her happiness? Does it really matter if your husband left the cabinet open when he got a glass? I bet he didn’t do it to make you mad. If he’s like my husband, he just has his mind on so many things that he completely forgets sometimes. Maybe offer to pour him a glass of wine… after quietly shutting the cabinet (not like me when I slam it to make a point that he left it open… again!) Do you need to point out to your wife that the house is a big mess when you get home? Maybe she had a long, rough day with the kids putting toys in the toilet, the dog ate the remote, and the vacuum broke.  Maybe ask her if there’s anything you can do to help or offer to rub her feet after the kids go to bed. After you get home from a hard day of work, instead of racing off to your room or to shower, sit and catch up with your loved one for 15 minutes first. Let your loved one pick the movie or choose the restaurant. You get what I’m saying, right? Sometimes when we focus on other people, we start to feel better, and they might just start treating you differently, too. Try it for a week and just make note of the amazing changes in your relationship. I promise it won’t hurt you… at least not TOO bad!