Aspects of Love: Confront & Change
You can overcome nearly anything in all relationships if there are two things present in both people (neither can be missing):
- a willingness to hear that one’s actions hurt and/or are displeasing to the other, and to change our actions because of it
- a willingness to bring our hurts and annoyances to the other when we are bothered by something she has done
What happens more often is that we do not bring our hurts to the other person in order to reconcile. We do not tell him that we took umbrage at his tone. We don’t tell her that our feelings were hurt when she repeatedly cancels our plans to get together. Many times this has to do with our own fear of being vulnerable before other people, admitting to them that how they treat us matters to us, that they have power in our lives. Other times our refusal to admit that we’re offended arises from impatience. We just may not want to deal with someone else’s shortcomings. We’d rather cut our losses and move on than stick around and do the sometimes awkward and trying work of attempting to reconcile what we want and think should happen with what someone else wants and thinks should happen. And sometimes we really may not know how to forgive.
We’re also resistant to change, genuine change for the sake of another person. It may be tempting to think that the best relationships (romantic, familial, professional) are when there is never any conflict between our personalities, habits, senses of humor, priorities or the like. While such similarities can certainly make for smoother sailing, there will generally always come a time when something that we have done or said, or how we have prioritized our life, will cause offense to someone that we’re close to. And if they have the courage to share that hurt with us, we have a great opportunity to show love by being willing to hear him and an even greater opportunity to show love if we are willing to make the necessary changes to stop offending him. When genuine love is shown–when time is given generously, when a thoughful gesture is offered, when a sacrifice is made–the bond grows stronger between the two.
Now it is very possible to be in relationships with controlling people. If my friend takes issue with things that I do that really should not be of any concern to her, then I should gently but firmly make it clear that I would like her to have greater respect for my independence. If a family member wants something more from me than I am currently giving, then I should be willing to hear what she wants and see if I can invest more in our relationship. It may be the case that I cannot, but love in relationships does call us to do more for the other than we might be naturally inclined to do if we were thinking only about our own wants.
Essentially, if we conduct our relationships solely on the basis of getting what we want at the moment, or only sticking with something insofar as we do not have to go out of our way for it, then those relationships won’t be very deep or lasting. Likewise, if we refuse to make ourselves vulnerable to the other, or cannot be bothered to have patience with her faults, then we’ll find ourselves snuffing out potentially great relationships.