Patience In Relationships

Relationships are a lot of work, and like many other aspects in our lives, relationships require patience. Patience is key to having peace in life and in life’s circumstances. Ideally, we should have a greater level of patience with those whom we are in relationship with. Quite often those who we are in relationship with have the ability to evoke great emotional responses, because of the history, and emotions that are tied up within the relationship. With this being said, those that we love are sometimes difficult to love, which makes patience difficult as well. Can you remain in love and show kindness when your patience are being tested? Can you be patient when you are angry? Can you show patience when your heart is hurting and you feel betrayed? If not, how should one show patience in trying times? Here are some helpful ideas for maintaining patience in difficult times.

  1. Show patience by walking away from negative behaviors until you are calm.
  2. Show patience by praying for yourself and the other person.
  3. Show patience by reading bible scriptures daily regarding your specific issue.
  4. Show patience by meditating daily, this will improve your mood, give clarity, and allow for more patience.
  5. Show patience by understanding that you cannot change others only yourself.
  6. Show patience by listening to the other person, don’t interrupt.
  7. Show patience by not having the last word.
  8. Show patience by validating the other person’s feelings.
  9. Show patience by using humor, make yourself and or the other person laugh to ease the tension.
  10. Show patience by compromising and taking the higher road.

Selfish Tendencies……..

Selfish tendencies in all relationships can be a major problem because selfishness promotes individualistic thinking. In order for relationships to grow selfishness must die. Selfishness can come in many different forms in all sorts of relationships: parent/child, intimate, work, and spiritual relationships just to name a few. When a person is selfish they tend to think of themselves only at the cost of others, meaning that although their actions seem to affect others directly they continue on regardless. Selfish people tend to be so focused on their needs and wants that they refuse to think about the ramifications of how their actions will affect others. So how do you know if you have selfish tendencies?……Well hopefully the following will assist:

  1. Spouses: can be selfish when they only think of themselves, making social arrangements without inviting their spouse. Many incidents of infidelity are based in selfishness in that an individual has decided to fulfill their selfish need outside of the marriage. When couples do not ask or consider the other’s opinions, for instance always picking the restaurant or the movie without consulting with their husband or wife. During sex, men and sometimes women are often selfish when they are only concerned with having an orgasm and do not work to make sure their partner has an orgasm or is completely satisfied as well. When one person wants to control and spend all of the money without consulting the other party. When couples do not say thank you for all the little things that their spouse does on a daily basis, such as cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash etc. When spouses do not recognize when their partner is overwhelmed.
  2. Parents: can be selfish when they put their love lives before their children, many single parents spend a lot of time engaging in uncommitted, destructive, abusive, and painful relationships. The children are left to witness their parents spiral out of control, chasing love from relationship to relationship. Parents who put their careers before their children by working excessively and leaving their children alone or to be cared for by strangers in daycare centers from 6am to 6pm  or longer (depending on the situation, some parents don’t have a choice). This does not leave a lot of time for bonding and care-taking by the parents. But for many mothers the thought never occurs to them to stay home and care for their young children, that they desperately wanted, and worked hard to create.
  3. Spiritual selfishness: develops when individuals only pray in times of turmoil or emergency. When God is an afterthought then selfishness has occurred. When every prayer is simply for asking for something as opposed to quality time with God where appreciation and thanksgiving is allowed to develop. When individuals only attend church on major holidays such as Easter or when there is some sort of major church celebration.
  4. Friendships: where the relationship is one-sided, people who call simply to borrow something, to share good news (brag) or to extract some sort of information from a friend. This type of friendship is not reciprocal, there is no give and take, only take.

The good thing about selfishness is that it is not a life sentence, it can be easily remedied with just a few steps. The other good thing about selfishness is that if you determine you are selfish, you are not alone, most people are selfish in some manner (including myself). The key is identifying ways in which you are selfish and working to change. First, sit and have some quiet time to journal and probe your life for selfishness, see if you fit in any of the above categories. Next, ask your love ones if there are times when they notice selfishness in you, this is not an opportunity for your to defend yourself or confront someone else. This is a time for you to listen and learn, and thank them for their honesty. Next, begin to pray and ask God to help you overcome your selfish tendencies. Something that works well in getting the ball rolling is volunteering to help someone who is in need, search your community and find a church or organization that needs your help. Lastly, give without expectation, help and give to others without expecting something in return, not even a thank you. If you are truly giving from the heart, then you are not expecting to be recognized or to have the action reciprocated.

Interacting With Difficult People

Understanding your limitations when dealing with difficult personalities is key for having peace of mind. People have difficult personalities for various reasons: some have psychological issues which compromises their personality at some level, some have been hurt and traumatized early on in life (childhood), and many have spiritual issues. So lets look at each of these a little closer. Any of  these issues could lead to a difficult personality.

Psychological issues: this could include but not limited to diagnosed and un diagnosed mental health disorders such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality. There are many other personality disorders, but the key to understanding these issues is to know that in spite of being diagnosed with a disorder, individuals can live loving productive lives and co-exist with others in a healthy manner. When those struggling with a disorder are not able to form healthy relationships, sometimes it might be due to their lack of medication compliance along with talk therapy. Often, individuals attempt to used medication without talk therapy, which may not be the best idea. Talk therapy is important because it provides the opportunity to learn new coping skills to deal with personality deficits as well as how to communicate such deficits to friends and love ones. Usually when people with personality disorders are receiving consistent treatment they are much easier to interact with.

Childhood trauma: childhood trauma unfortunately is very common and can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and disrupted attachment (extreme neglect). Any of these issues left untreated can lead to disruptions in healthy personality creation and growth. When individuals suppress emotions and symptoms related to childhood abuse or neglect they have a difficult time forming healthy attachments and may have many unpredictable, abusive, and dangerous relationships. Those with childhood trauma issues not only have difficulty attaching themselves emotionally to others, but they also have trouble allowing others to attach to them (spouse, friends, and children).

Spiritual issues: this may include but is not limited to a connection and a belief that God exist and that the bible (his living word) can change, heal, and guide them through life. Many do not have an understanding, belief, or connection to God. Many are attempting to figure out life’s meaning. These things are best understood when a connection is made to God. Those that do not have a relationship with God often find themselves angry, insecure, panicky, ill etc. because they feel lost, and find themselves unfilled in all aspects of life.

So what do you do if you are interacting with a difficult person? Well it depends on why they are difficult which will determine how you should react and interact with them. It also depends on the nature of your relationship with the individual. For instance, because I am a psychotherapist I tend to have a higher level of tolerance when dealing with difficult personalities, because I have a unique understanding of what is possibly making them difficult this understanding allows me to be more patient than the average person (at least I think so).

As Christians, I think that we should always walk in love and practice patience with others, but I know there are times when others make this a difficult task. Which is why it is important to determine the level of relationship involvement that is present, for instance spouses and close friends or even family may require more work. This is because we love them, and often are stuck with them for life. At the same time, consideration should also be given to those who are dealing with their issues, the person going to therapy, taking medication, and trying to establish a connection with God should probably be allotted more patience. These things take time and will probably be an ongoing process (like all of us). So maybe we don’t invest as much time and energy with people that we do not interact with regularly, as this may lead to frustration, but we invest more time with loved ones.

What about the difficult person who is NOT attempting to better themselves? It is in this situation where sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. I say this because you cannot change others, you can only change yourself and the manner in which you react to them. So, the most difficult scenario then becomes the difficult personality, who is within close proximity, and is refusing to change or seek help.

What should you do if this is your situation? Hopefully the following will be helpful:

1. I am a strong believer in prayer, not only for myself but I pray for others (healing, understanding, guidance).

2. Limit conversations and interactions, understand who and what you are dealing with, accept people for who and what they are (often wounded).

3. Lower expectations, sometimes we have expectations that are too high for others to achieve, especially if we are interacting with a wounded person who has not been healed, they may not be able to interact in a positive manner.

4. Arm yourself everyday, with a word from God, this means that we are protected and strengthened; making it difficult for evil spirits to penetrate.

5. Acceptance, that you cannot change others, only yourself. We often want others to change, but we forget that maybe we are the ones who need to change, maybe this difficult person is a test from God to develop something in you or to remove negative qualities from you (judgement, anger, controlling personality etc.)

6. Understanding, because it is imperative that you develop compassion for others, and know that when others are acting ugly that maybe they do not know any better, quite possibly they are in some sort of pain which manifest itself in a difficult personality.

7. Stop ruminating, in the negativity of the person or situation, when we dwell on our problems or fears, we give them power to grow and manifest in our lives on a large-scale. Don’t gossip or share stories about the broken souls in your life that present as difficult personalities (co-workers, friends, spouse, siblings, or parents).

8. Examine yourself, and find out why this person is so difficult for you to interact with. Maybe, just maybe, they reflect the parts of your personality that are not developed or healthy, maybe it is a sign that you need to work on your self.

9. Take your power back, sometimes difficult personalities are like bullies. They can only bother you if you allow them too, if you respond in a different manner, then they will usually stop or move on to someone else, or you learn to become strong enough not to allow their behaviors to affect you.

Change Yourself and Change Your Marriage

I am a firm believer that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. Often, couples come to counselors for counseling because they are upset with their spouses’ actions. Usually one of the two appear to be miserable and spend a considerable amount of time nagging, complaining, and criticizing the other. This is a waste of time, couples have to realize that they do not have the right to force someone else to change. Who is to say whether or not someone needs to change? If someone does need to change wouldn’t the change be more effective if the individual came to this realization on their own? Individual change cannot occur because someone demands for it to happen or because they are shamed into change. For change to occur and to be meaningful it needs to happen because the individual sees a need, and desires to make it happen.

The best approach is to change yourself which will change your marriage. When you change the manner in which you respond to others, they will in return change the way they behave.

“The Marital Misconception”

Often I hear individuals and couples state that they are not happy in their relationships, and divorce becomes a quick remedy to problems that are often deep seeded. I’m starting to think that the idea of marriage is entered into under a misconception. There are many valid reasons for divorce such as abuse and addiction, but, my concern is that marriages cannot survive a minimum of five years in many cases. Where are the communication and problem solving skills that were once used to maintain long-lasting marriages? What sort of happiness are those who have short-lived marriages looking for? I am a firm believer that your spouse cannot be the source of your happiness. Perhaps more time should be spent creating happiness before marriage, and developing a relationship with God; which is where I believe true happiness originates.

The misconception comes from the idea that everyday spent married will be full of happiness and joy, and there will never be any conflict or sorrow. Wrong, marriage is a 24/7 job responsibility, it takes a considerable amount of work. There are many cycles in marriage such as adding children, growing older, children leaving the home, retiring, and loosing parents to illness and other reasons. The Family Cycle requires understanding, maturity, dedication, a relationship with God, and a certain level of selflessness.

What misconceptions have you created in your marriage? How have these misconceptions affected your marriage?