In my previous post (click here to read), we looked at the first two categories for finding the rules in relationships: The Obvious and The Debatable. Today we shall examine CATEGORY THREE – The Third Party. Alas, the dreaded Third Party. The issues that are not universally agreed upon or cannot be settled through vigorous debate end up here: turning to others for help.
Many people consider this a sign of weakness and won’t enlist the help of others, but this is no weakness, it is life. For example, when a wife does not want her husband to befriend a certain woman (for reasons real or imagined) and he vehemently disagrees, or when you fight over what the children should be allowed to do, or how a friend or family member should be treated or any other dilemma that presents itself, and no conclusion can be reached after vigorous debate, then you must turn to others for help.
Sometimes just having friends you can trust will do the trick.
From my book, The BE-attitudes of Marriage:
One of the worst things a couple can do is live on their own little island. People who think of their marriage in terms of isolationist thinking do so at their peril.
We say, “This is OUR business. No one should know OUR business. Don’t tell anyone OUR business.” This is the kind of foolish thinking that millions of couples employ today. But I warn you: If you live on your own little island, you will eventually turn into cannibals and start eating each other.
Want to know how you can have a healthy marriage that will last a lifetime? GET A LIFE!! Or more to our point: GET SOME FRIENDS!!
“But pastor, we DO have friends. I have my friends and he has his friends.” That, my dear, is your problem. Each of you having your own set of friends, surrounding yourself with people who will most likely validate your own self-centered, narcissistic, selfish viewpoint, is not helpful. Let’s face it: the reason they are your friends is because they think as goofy as you do. It’s like Saddam Hussein who, during the Gulf War, surrounded himself with generals who assured him, “Yes your majesty! We have the Americans on the run! You were right, they are suffering from the mother of all battles!”
When you or your spouse argue, chances are you are more caught up in the argument then the actual facts you are debating. Emotions go crazy and you even start to use phrases like, “You ALWAYS do that!” or “You’re just like your father!” Want to save yourselves thousands of dollars in marriage counseling?
Want to avoid the need for professional counseling in the first place? GET SOME FRIENDS!! And I mean other couples that you routinely get with in order to talk out the junk in your lives. Nothing is more enlightening than to take one of your stupid fights to your friends and have them tell you, “Boy, that is really stupid.”
“I want the thermostat set at 70 and she wants it at 68!”
You will most likely hear your friends suggest, “Why don’t you just set it at 69?”
Ahhh… a brilliant insight. One that should have been obvious to you in the first place, except for the fact that you are mad and only interested in winning. In a phrase: You are too close to the trees to see the forest.
Get some friends so they can help you with your struggles and you can help them with theirs.
Of course, truly misbehaving individuals will oppose such a scenario at all costs! Why? Because it is easy to argue their absurd position with you and they know that anyone else would tell them they are wrong.
Your husband thinks it’s okay if he looks at porn and has lunch with other women? Try running that past your couple friends. They will likely beat him with sticks.
Think it's okay for you to travel with other men while on work, just the two of you in hotels? Yeah…try floating that past your friend network.
You see, oftentimes the reasons couples do NOT want anyone to know their business is because deep down they know that their “business” is illegal or illegitimate.
Sometimes, however, even friends can’t help. That is when you need the courage and humility to be able to turn to a pastor or mentor or even a professional counselor.
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)
Wisdom (the knowledge to know what is right or wrong in any given situation) is something that is sought out, obtained, gained, found. That means you have to ask. If you encounter really bad behavior in your marriage, a professional counselor may be your only real option. Let me explain ...
I am of the firm opinion that marriage problems are the easiest problems in the world to fix. Don’t misunderstand, I know the problems can be very frustrating and can even lead to divorce if not corrected. It is just that I don’t think marriage problems are very complicated and in my opinion, don’t really need a professional counselor or therapist.
But PERSONAL problems, now that is a horse of a different color! I am referring to deep personal problems: alcohol abuse, drug usage, violence, gambling, sexual addictions, negative self-image, etc. These will all negatively affect a marriage, but they are not marriage problems, they are personal problems. These types of problems, but for a miraculous work of God’s grace in that person, almost always need a professional. But keep in mind, this should not be marriage counseling.
Look, life is hard. We encounter many difficult hurdles. Be humble and ask for help. Don’t be like the fool who says, “This is our business and nobody should know our business!” If you get stuck, turn to others for help. Getting some advice from others to help negotiate the conditions upon which you cannot seem to agree may be just the answer for you.
Does a couple need conditions in their relationship? Absolutely! (If you are unsure about the reasons, go back and read my previous posts in this series.) Always remember: Without conditions, true love is not possible.
*From my book “The Battle Over Rules” available at: www.markgungor.com