Romantic relationships are an inevitable part of life for most of us. According to the experts, who you marry will determine 90% of your happiness. I guess I'll let you decided whether or not that is actually true.
On that note, let me just say I really admire Glen Hansard's music. I'm going to use his lyrics to explain my thoughts. He is probably most famous for his song, "Falling Slowly".
Here's the first few lines of the song:
I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
It is the great mystery of the "other", the unknown personality. They could be anybody. At first, all you have is a face, a physique, and maybe a conversation. In your head, you are able to attribute countless wonderful qualities to this person. Inevitably, they are dashing, magnificent, brilliant, charming, invigorating. They bring out the best in you. You see yourself as a better person if you could be with them. It is at these [magical?] times of love that the gender groups in our society breach the social gap, they are willing to fuse together...at last!
I must admit, I am a critic of love. Feel free to shake your finger at me. I'm not a hater, just very critical. I admit, I've been a skeptic all my life. Maybe I'm too much of a realist. I believe there is danger in the expectations we put on relationships. Are we all really a "sinking boat" like Hansard refers to later in his song? Do we need someone else to guide us home, to keep us from reaching the rocky depths of the figurative ocean of...life?
Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now
Well, it's possible. It's possible love can prevent you from...sinking. Gosh, I love these analogies. But what if love doesn't? Or, what happens if it stops doing that for you? What if the beautiful mystery of the person is solved, and we are left with "eh...".
If your life is anything like mine, you've grown up hearing that relationships and marriage should be all about the other person. Period. No exceptions. No excuses. But we like being selfish...so how does that work?
I'm not married, but this is how I understand it: There is no perfect person for you out there. I'll go ahead and pop the destiny bubble. No matter who you end up with, nobody is going to reflate your sinking boat completely. This isn't news for any of us (I hope).
Doesn't this sound familiar? What's the Golden Rule again? Maybe we're on to something...
This might help counteract our selfishness a little. Being in a relationship, getting married, is like adding an extension to yourself. So you better choose wisely, right? Right. That's not funny.
Single people: Perhaps you see yourselves as sinking vessels needing to be rescued. You're lonely, after all. Being alone sounds like an awful idea.
But doesn't adding one sinking boat to another sinking boat equal two sinking boats? Or are there roles here, the savior and the...savee (save-ee); the one who does the saving and the one who needs to be saved? If that's the case, which is which? Who gets to decide?
Like I said, I'm very critical.
All I know is I can't save anyone. I'll burn out real fast. And this is true vice-versa, no one could save me either. If you're sinking, and I'm sinking, and there's no one to guide us home.....did I mention divorce rates yet?
So what? Even if we do change our perspective, what difference does it make? If our goal is to "self-actualize", to become the best we can humanly be (by the way, this shouldn't be the goal), getting rid of this extended "self" might be the smartest step. Again, divorce rates...
Is this where I should bring up the Bible? Is the answer Jesus...or is it a squirrel...?
I'm going to leave you with this quote:
The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether [even the extended self i.e. life-partner]. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters...The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself [the life-partner-self too], and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death [yours and theirs], death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing [whatever expectation, hope, or standard you are holding in regard to that life-partner of yours]. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself [you know who], and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”- By C.S. Lewis from Mere ChristianityGive up your other self. Your husband. Your wife. Whoever. It is only when you stop holding these ideals for them (as we often hold for ourselves), these wants, longings, desires of what they could fulfill if only...
Let that die. Replace it with Christ. Because, you see, if you are in fact truly Christ's, then, when you look for yourself in a relationship, it is not really you at all, it is Christ (because your life is Christ's, every single part). In order for you to see them in light of who they were meant to be, you must put Christ there. When you look for Christ in them, you will find Him.
and with Him everything else thrown in.