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?”
“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.”