Hi, My Name Is Ralph Bass...This Is My Library

The sixth in our series of counseling case studies.

Dear Pastor: I am a 26-year-old college graduate and a professional businessman. The problem that I am having is that I do not seem to be able to maintain a long-term relationship.

I enjoy the first few months of a relationship but then it gets to be a drag, and I find myself looking for someone else. I believe I am normal since I want to have a family and children sometime in the future. However I am starting to get a little concerned that the attractions I have don't seem to last. Do you think this is a problem? Phil R.
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Counseling Case Study 6

Answer: This is getting to be a problem of some magnitude in our day. There are two major possibilities for this quandary. The first is the topic of divorce. Many young people grow up seeing parents, neighbors, and friends going through the heart wrenching turmoil of a divorce. Such experiences put a considerable amount of fear and doubt in their minds about the possibility of having a good relationship. They break off promising relationships for fear that it won’t really work and the pain of divorce will inevitably follow.

The second, and far more common possibility is self-centeredness. A part of your letter suggest this might be some of your problem. Consider the phrase “but then it gets to be a drag.” Sadly, dating and marriage are almost always based on the question “What’s in it for me?” It becomes the responsibility of the other person to “make me happy.” When that other person fails to maintain an adequate entertainment value, then the luster fades and it’s time to look around. This is also found in marriage. The attention, candy, dinning out, entertainment, and ego building conversation are replaced with dirty diapers, overtime at work, bills, and extra poundage. About this time it dawns on one or both in this relationship “I am not getting anywhere near what I expected to get out of this marriage. I guess I’m not in love.” Divorce soon follows.

What’s the answer? Consider that love is not “getting” but “giving.” Contemplate these Bible verses “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” John 3:16. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. “…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…” Ephesians 5:2. All have one theme in common: love gives.

Perhaps this is your problem; you are looking for what you can get out of the relationship instead of what you can give. As a result, the seed of true love is not growing in this soil of self-interest. Instead, think and act in terms of giving to the other person. Consider that it is not her job to bring joy to your life, but your job to bring joy to her life. And very importantly, look for a girl with the same self-sacrificing attitude.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippines 2:3-4

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