It’s About What You Got Across Not What You Think You Said or Did

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert. Do I live this way? Most probably not, which explains my current status. These are OPINIONS. Don’t bet your life on them.

If you want to read the others, you can read them at the following links:
1. It’s About What’s Most Important
2. It’s Not About What You Think You Deserve. It’s About Who You Choose
3. It’s About What You Got Across Not What You Think You Said or Did
4. It’s About Infinite Possibilities Not Minimum Requirements
5. It’s About Whatever It Takes

I don’t know how many times I goofed or messed up while having good intentions. I remember once, I saw two of my friends (they were cousins), and I had heard that their grandmother had died, so I went up to them and gave my condolences only to be told, “David! She’s not dead! She’s just sick!” That was incredibly embarrassing, but not as bad as when, exactly one week after, I saw the same two cousins, and asked them if their grandma was getting better. Shaking their heads they responded, “David. She’s dead.”

***Awkward silence***

What does this have to do with relationships? It’s simple. Our good intentions aren’t enough. What’s important is that we get the right message across.

I was genuinely asking about the health of my friends’ grandmother, but the message I sent was, “I really have no idea what’s happening in your life, so I’m making a fool of myself”.

In business, no matter how many times a salesman says his lines, or hands out flyers, or makes calls if nobody’s buying then he’s not succeeding in getting his message across. It’s not the customer’s fault if he doesn’t want to buy. He can say “Buy this. Buy this. But this. Buy this.” a million times. If the customer isn’t convinced, he won’t get the sale. The burden of communicating a message is always with the messenger, not the receiver.

So you mean that if I told my girlfriend she’s beautiful a million times a day there’s still a chance she’ll get jealous when my head turns towards the hot girl walking past?

Yes. Why? Maybe it’s because all your head-turning is causing her to feel insecure. It’s not how many times you call her beautiful that will make her feel secure.

What will make her secure then? I have no idea. But you have to figure it out and reinforce it, because it’s not about how many times you say something, it’s about getting the message across.

In the same way if a simple note in his luggage will send the message, then write those notes. You don’t have to worry about doing anything crazy, just get the message across.

You’ll notice that I’m not giving exact steps to get the message across, and the reason is because it’s different for everyone. Some people are moved by just the slightest things, some need something more deliberate, but whatever it is the principle here is: Get the Message Across.

And what’s the message?

That you value your partner most. That you chose them and continue to choose to put them first daily. That you’re excited about the unlimited possibilities you have together. And that you’ll do what it takes.

In other words, the message is, “I love you”.

How you get that message across is where the fun and challenge lies. But it’s worth it because remember this is the person you value most.

Notes for the Ladies (and for guys as well):
1.A smooth guy isn’t enough – in fact, be careful. They’ll know what to say and do, they’ll be funny, seem smart and opinionated, and seem generally well-liked. But until you know what he’s made off, and see that he’s worth it, don’t fall in love. Instead look for kindness, generosity (not to be mixed up with galante), humility, patience, and passion. Look for love, not romance. If you’re not getting the message (that he values you most. That he chose you and continues to choose to put you first daily. That he’s excited about the unlimited possibilities you have together. And that he’ll do what it takes.), seriously take this into consideration: you don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t communicate these things to you – no matter how rich or good looking he is.

2.Don’t fall in love on your own – you’ll probably hate me for adding this, but my stock among females isn’t high anyway so there’s nothing to lose. Don’t fall in love on your own. “We don’t do that!!!” Let me explain, you see a cute guy, you ask your friend what his name is, you check him out on facebook and find out he likes kids and can cook, then you hear another friend say what a great guy he is, and it turns out he lives in your village, your heart is beating a little faster with each revelation, then you realize you share the same birthday, and that he also likes the color red and the same bands, and movies, it gets better and better, culminating in the only possible conclusion: you two were meant for each other. Um… NO. It could also mean that he’s just really a great guy. It could also mean you don’t know enough about him. It could also mean you have a lot of similarities. It could mean a hundred other things but all on your own you fell in love. Instead, don’t be pathetic. Busy yourself with your life’s purpose, walk the very special path prepared for you, and grow, and learn, and improve, before you know it may meet someone interesting, and when you do you’ll be happy you lived right, because you won’t need to pretend, you’re already impressive. If things work out, it’s even better; you’ll be offering him a wonderful version of yourself. Not something in desperate need of improvement.

3.Be aware of what you’re communicating – By this point, your head is probably thinking about whether your guy is communicating the proper things. But before guys become the bad guys, look at yourself and think about what you’re communicating. What does your facebook or twitter status messages say about you? What do your pictures or poses convey? I personally cringe at the number of people who retweet every known love quote on the planet. Some guys might actually like that. I’m not saying pretend, but be wise about what you put out. In this social age you can either build a great reputation or sell yourself cheap. Are you too easy to get? Are you too stuck-up and stiff? Are you kind? What are you? Who are you? These are just a few questions to help you as you figure out what you’re communicating.

It’s Not About What You Think You Deserve. It’s About Who You Choose.

This is part 2 of my five part relationship series. These are opinions NOT expert advice.

If you want to read the others, you can read them at the following links:
1. It’s About What’s Most Important
2. It’s Not About What You Think You Deserve. It’s About Who You Choose
3. It’s About What You Got Across Not What You Think You Said or Did
4. It’s About Infinite Possibilities Not Minimum Requirements
5. It’s About Whatever It Takes

A Little More on Value
I’ve written quite a bit on a variety of topics with only the concept of VALUE tying all of them together. One thing I noticed, based on the feedback I get with each post, is that people seem to respond most to the ones about family and relationships. It’s just more proof that deep down, whether consciously or unconsciously, relationships are what we value most.

Think about it, on their deathbed, no one ever wished they played more Playstation, or ate more burritos, or earned more money. What we regret are the relationships we should have paid more attention to, the thank yous and I love yous we should have said, the sons and daughters we should have parented, and the dreams we should have shared.

I guess that’s the important thing about marking your values clearly, because when you do you can head towards it, when you don’t two things usually happen: you never get what you want because you don’t know, or worse, you get what you think you’ve always wanted and realize that it wasn’t worth it. The words “worth” and “value” are very closely connected. What’s valuable will always be worth it.

Clarifications on Value
I got some comments that I found interesting enough to address here because some of you might have similar questions. Here goes:

1. This is a great article for guys – I don’t know about the article being “great”. It’s just my opinion, and again, from a non-expert. Second, I wrote this for both men and women. The whole value thing won’t work if one person values the other but is not valued as well. Someone’s bound to burnout or become a martyr or get hurt. That’s not a sustainable situation.

2. You can’t jump to conclusions – Just because someone’s too tired to drive doesn’t mean they don’t value you. Maybe they’re really just too tired. This is a very very valid point raised by none other than my mother. And she’s right about this. My example needs qualifying. If let’s say you’re in a relationship, and you know that someone’s too tired to drive you, because you value him or her you put them ahead and make them rest. In the same way, if he or she values you they’ll do their best to serve you. But the reality stays that people have their limits, emotionally and even physically, but when you have two people valuing each other they adjust without feeling unvalued because they’re secure that the other holds them as most important even when they’re limitations become apparent. Having said that, a pattern of mistreatment is obvious proof that someone doesn’t value you or you don’t value someone.

3. All nice and sweet but people are humans and make mistakes. How can you say that making a mistake in a relationship means that person doesn’t value the person – This is a great point! No one can say they’ve never hurt anyone – especially me. Hurting someone doesn’t mean you don’t value that person, it only means that on that specific moment, whatever you were doing was more important. For example, when I say something tactless, which I do a lot, it just means that airing my opinion is more important to me than the feelings of someone else. This doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t value that person, just not as much as I should at that moment.

The problem is when the pattern of our life is one that takes the truly valuable things for granted. Some might argue that values are relative, and they’d be correct to an extent, but at the very least we should know what’s personally important to us, and live a life that moves towards that.

What about our mistakes? No one’s perfect. We will all make mistakes. What hope do we have?

I remember my dad explaining a critical component of relationships; it’s what reconciles us and allows us to enjoy the benefits of a valued relationship despite the reality that we are flawed and will make mistakes. That component is forgiveness. I’ve realized that forgiveness is more than just getting a clean slate. Forgiveness is another chance to enjoy that which you really value – and if you take this new chance for granted don’t be surprised if someday you’ll lose it, maybe even completely.

The simple point of the whole value thing is this:

KNOW AND DEFINE WHAT YOU VALUE. LIVE A LIFE THAT REFLECTS WHAT YOU VALUE. AND WHEN YOU MAKE A MISTAKE, CORRECT AND GO BACK – IF IT’S NOT TOO LATE.

4. I wish my boyfriend thought this way – when I was writing this, I wasn’t thinking about how I wish my partner would be like. I was writing this as a reminder to myself to be the type of person who knows who and what he values, and to be the type of person who enjoys the privilege of cultivating the valuable things in his life. I didn’t write this for people to use as a standard to compare their partners to, I wrote this as a guide for myself. I can’t say that everyday of my life is faultlessly value-based. A lot of it, maybe even most of it right now, isn’t. But I have a guide, and slowly but surely, in time, I’ll be deciding more based on what’s really valuable to me and not have as many regrets. Sometimes when I read your email I wonder if you’re talking about someone else and sending it to me by accident. I’m not a great guy that knows these things. I’m, like a work in progress, discovering things as we go along, and trying to make something out of the limited time we have on Earth.

And this leads me to the next portion of this series, and again I have to warn you that this is MY OPINION.

Off Your High Horse
Many times we have this picture of this dream relationship where everything works and is perfect, where everything is fair. I love him, he loves me. I’ll do anything for her, she’ll do anything for me. I write her, she writes me back. It’s perfect…

…until she forgets to text back right away after you sent her a sweet message. Or until you’ve bent over backwards and he’s sleeping on the couch. Or even until he gets fat after you get married, while you work hard to stay slim. Until these things happen, and you’re left asking yourself, what the heck is this???

For me, at least historically, when things get too complicated, that’s the time to press the EJECT button.

But I guess this all starts when we stop thinking about what’s most important TO us and we start thinking about what’s most important FOR us. We start thinking about what we deserve. We start having one of the most dangerous sicknesses you can catch – entitlement.

Entitlement is a dangerous case to have. No one owes us anything – not even the people we’re in relationship with. Sometimes we think guys have to be like this, girls have to be like that, and the truth is they don’t. No one has to give you flowers or cook you dinner. No one has to court you or make it easy for you to court him or her. No one has to do any of that, and you’re not entitled to any of that.

Some of you are asking, “I’m not?”

Nope.

“Then what am I entitled to?”

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

But before you throw stones at me read on. (Besides my hair will soften the impact anyway.)

Here You Go
Love is a gift, not a trade. It isn’t bartered or earned. It is given, and in the case of true love, given completely. Sometimes we forget this, and we start saying things like, “If you truly loved me you would or wouldn’t…”.

You can complete the sentence.

When you give a gift you prepare it and make it special but you don’t expect anything in return. How ridiculous would it be for a kid to attend a party, give his gift, and go feel cheated when all he gets in return is a goodie bag?

“I gave you a Nerf Gun and you gave me lollipops!”

But we’re like that sometimes, always expecting a fair trade. “I did this. You didn’t” “You don’t deserve me!” “I don’t deserve you!” Tit for tat, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth is not the recipe of love but of feuds.

So what can I expect then?

Nothing. Nothing but the privilege to love unconditionally, to say “Here you go. You have everything.”

“That sucks, David.”

Why do you think I’m not married?

It’s About Who You Choose
Of course it doesn’t really suck. I’m exaggerating. We do get something, and it’s not necessarily what we think we deserve. We get whom we choose. This is why we need to choose well. This is why we don’t just jump in. This is why counting the cost is important, and there is a cost.

I liked this girl once, and looking back she really was cool, but I remember my dad telling me, (after asking me how I planned to feed her!), “David, no matter how pretty she is she’s going to take a crap someday.” My dad has a way of saying things. I guess this was his way of telling me no one’s perfect, don’t go blind, see things as they are.

Of course choosing well can mean different things to different people but here are two things I think are important:

1. Shared values – Do you agree on what the most important non-negotiable things are?
2. Shared love – Do you even like each other? Do you both put each other first?

For some funny reason we’re back to the questions “What’s most important?” and “Who is most important?” Trying to make sense of this, I’ve realized whom we choose reflects what’s important to us. We’re attracted to what’s important to us. So know for sure what’s important to you and choose well. As I said in another blog “everything costs something but not everything is priced right”. Choose the one you value most, know the cost, and pay it in full no matter how expensive. As I also said in another, “But you can never go wrong with the priceless things. They’ll always be a steal.”

It’s About What’s Most Important

Pastor Paolo Punzalan recently mentioned me on his blog on relationships. I don’t know why he suggested me as having insight on this (maybe because my views are entertainingly controversial), but I’ve been getting some questions regarding relationships on my email, Twitter, and Facebook. So to answer all your questions more efficiently here are my thoughts on how to make a relationship work. I do have to make it clear from the start that I’m really no expert on this, so don’t go taking this as expert opinion. This is MY opinion on a subject I am historically known to be NOT very good at. But I’m learning, and over the next few weeks I’ll be posting 5 lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. It’s About What’s Most Important
2. It’s Not About What You Think You Deserve. It’s About Who You Choose
3. It’s About What You Got Across Not What You Think You Said or Did
4. It’s About Infinite Possibilities Not Minimum Requirements
5. It’s About Whatever It Takes

Ok, here we go…

It’s About What’s Most Important?
Of course I had to stick in the word VALUE at the very top, because relationships are about what’s most important to you or what’s valuable to you. A lady from the microfinance group I’m a  part of emailed me the other day asking about some life decisions. I told her to ask herself, “What’s most important to me?” and to order clearly the hierarchy of importance in her life. Because what we value affects our decision making. When something is important to us we naturally try to bring ourselves closer. When something is NOT valuable to us we naturally stay away or forget something even exists. It’s like the kid who can’t remember his subjects but can remember the stats of his sports heroes.

It’s not a question of memory. It’s a question of value.

In a relationship, you need to be able to say that, after God, she’s the most valuable thing to you, and your decision-making, and your execution of your decisions (your actions) should show it. My dad always encouraged my brothers and I to make the big decision, because the smaller decisions become easy when you make the big decision. He used to say that it’s easy to choose what to wear to work when you’ve already chosen to actually go to work. In the same way, many people find it hard to do the little things for the person they’re supposed to love simply because they’ve never made a conscious decision to set her aside as most important.

If we’re impatient with someone it only means we value our impatience more than we value the person. If we’re angry at someone it only means we value our anger more than that person. If we’d rather sleep than drive for our wives or girlfriends it only means that we value how tired we are or our convenience more than them. This is hard to accept but it’s true.

When I am misbehaving towards someone, I can give every reason I think is valid, but the bottom line is I value my reasons more than that person. Because IF the person is MOST valuable, than she should be MORE valuable than my reasons no matter how valid they are.

Again it’s hard to accept, even for me. But when I think about the reasons why my dates never went past a few months the answer is the same, while I always try to make a positive contribution in the lives of others, at that moment, what was most important was… drumroll… ME.

Are You Ready?
I remember once being asked at a talk (why I get asked to talk on relationships is a mystery to me), “How do you know if you’re ready for a relationship?” And I answered:

When you’re ready to put her before you. When you’re ready to put her needs before your needs, her wants before your wants, her dreams before yours, her comfort before yours, her feelings before yours, her convenience before yours. When you’re ready to lay your life down that’s when you know you’re ready.

Of course I followed this up with, “And that’s how I know I’m absolutely NOT ready.”

Insecure Value
Sometimes I come across people who are so insecure about where they stand in a relationship and I realize it’s because they themselves and / or their partners have never settled in their hearts that the other is most important. When what’s most important isn’t decided on, everything becomes negotiable. I can go out and get drunk because he offended me. I can text others since we’re not cheating anyway. I can gossip to my friends because he’s a butt. All of a sudden we can negotiate in our mind to do the things that will hurt the person because we have never really set them aside as valuable – meaning even their value is negotiable – they’re only valuable as long as they do as we like. I’m so grateful our Father is not like that. Because, while I have decided on my values, sometimes I find myself negotiating and rationalizing my mistakes.

But our Father, He doesn’t negotiate our value. He has marked us as important to Him even when we fall short, and that is why His love never fails. God’s love doesn’t change with our roller coaster of a life. It actually reminds me of Shakespeare’s very famous Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Love never alters. It doesn’t bend. It is an ever-fixed mark that is never shaken. When that’s the love you enjoy you’ll be secure.

Someday There’ll Be Treasure
Someday, I’m going to type her name on this blog, and like a white flag waving, that will signal my fall. When that day comes I have to surrender and say, “You’re most important now.” There will be times when I won’t get my way, but that’s ok, she’s most important. There will be days when I won’t understand, but I’ll have to trust, because she’s most important. There will be days when I’ll get mad (maybe a lot of days with my impatience), but I’ll have to swallow my pride, prepare a peace offering, and apologize to the one who is most important to me. Just typing this is making me dizzy, but then I realize I won’t have to worry, because I’ll be what’s most important to her, and as the Bible says: perfect love casts out all fear.