November 18, 2018
Have you ever asked this question (see orange box:) after hearing your significant other say something TOTALLY inappropriate to you? Even worse, did your blood pressure rise after watching your kid's boyfriend/girlfriend say something so rude that you’re counting down the minutes 'til the come to Jesus meeting?
This topic pressed on my heart after recently observing a couple having dinner at the next table over from me. Due to the guy's drunken behavior, his date become totally embarrassed and saddened, but continued to sit there with him. My heart broke for her. We tried to ignore the whole scene, so as to help her in some way save face. However, when someone is slapping the table, raising his voice, and cursing every other word, it's hard to turn a deaf ear. How their silverware remained on their table I have no clue. Thankfully neither of them ordered soup!
But all jokes aside, how do we react when we observe such behavior in others? Or even worse, God forbid, we fall victim to it ourselves? It's so easy to say we'd be strong, put our foot down and walk out, but it's not always that easy.
It's especially difficult if something like this happens to a close friend or even one of our children. Instinct for this writer would be to jump up, tell the guy off, and yell "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" Oh, but we also know there are repercussions for that type of behavior. Often, the loved one you're trying to defend may not be prepared to get out of such a tough situation yet. Serious feelings may be involved that we simply don't understand. Perhaps she's scared of being alone and puts up with way more than she should because of low self-esteem? Needless to say, the last thing your friend needs is a highly emotional defender to be the catalyst for the ending of a relationship--one in which she she isn't emotionally prepared. So what then? First, allow me to be clear that I'm not just picking on guys. I promise to hold up a mirror to us estrogen-clad sorts as well. Bear with me, my friends. This whole issue goes way back to how we were brought up as kids. No, I'm not Sigmund Freud, but I do agree our personalities were formed at a very young age, and that, along with our surroundings, is a good predicator of how we'd react to the situation above.
I was a high school teacher for close to 15 years and naturally watched young men and women, with hormones raging, interact on a daily basis. I had no choice but to keep tissues on my desk for the (usually female) students who cried on my shoulder during break. They’d been hurt either physically or verbally by a cruel boyfriend and didn’t know where to turn. Did some girls mistreat the boys? Definitely, and I’ll get to that later in this post.
When these sweet girls beared their hearts, mine broke into a million pieces as well.
After all, I’d been in their shoes.
Sadly, I gained a great deal of insight after meeting some of the mothers and fathers at Parent's Night. Lots of repeat behaviors. Research shows that in relationships, teenagers and adults often seek out what's familiar to them in their youth. It also shows confirms that guys who are verbally, emotionally or physically abusive, (A) grew up watching their father treat their mother the same way, or (B) grew up with no positive role model in their life and therefore clueless on how to treat a young woman. I'm saddened for anyone that relates to this post, but it's very common. It's raw and it's real and it hurts like hell.
Similarly, I also noticed that insecure girls usually had insecure mothers. Not always, but there was definitely a pattern. Often I’d watch beautiful, intelligent young ladies have their futures totally derailed due to their boyfriend wanting to be the center of their universe. As a teacher, by blood boiled as I watched amazing opportunities get thrown out the window--all because of a manipulative boy. What really pushed me to my limit were the days I was on hall duty and had to break up girl fights. They are the worst. One would accuse the other of talking to their boyfriend and the hair pulling commenced. Nails broke, vulgar language spewed and deep scratches were made that had long lasting scars. Of course, the guy they were fighting over sat there smiling proudly. I'm sure he thought he was the cat's meow if girls were willing to lose nails and wads of beautiful hair over him. Have mercy.
Naturally, we teachers have to be guarded with our words and actions. Oh how I wanted to grab hold of those girls, hug them, and say, "No one is worth having your brains beat out over! Please walk on and hold your head up!" Readers, please pray for all of our school teachers, as they have an emotionally challenging job in more ways than you'd ever imagine.
Oh I would not go back to the teenage years for all the tea in China. No way. No how. Thank you merciful Jesus that I'm 52 years old!
To be fair, I also watched opportunistic girls play mind games with their boyfriends. Oh, young girls can do a number on guys as well as one another. They can be downright mean.
I watched girls string their boyfriend along, lie to them, and play one guy off of the other. All. the. time. These girls craved attention and took big risks to get it. Their self-worth was at rock bottom, so their actions led to making darn sure the boys felt just as insecure as they did. And in 2018 add to that the abuse through facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc. and it's like pouring gasoline on a fire.
It’s easy to see why young people are so disillusioned and confused. They are bombarded with saccharine sweet posts of perfect families, perfect relationships, perfect bodies, perfect everything. Their litmus test is often a reality show whose characters became famous due to starring in a sex tape.
Sweet readers, we need to pray for our young people. It breaks my heart when I see posts of scantily clad girls, legs or breasts photo enlarged, with a fake cartoon-toothed smile, all for a trivial thumbs up or heart emoji. Have mercy. Mothers please talk to your daughters about what a real woman looks and acts like. PLEASE.
Since this post is about young people and their struggles, they often become adults totally sold out to the big “opposites attract” myth. Yours truly was guilty of that back in the day as well. Remember the famous Jerry Maguire “you complete me” line? Oh we were convinced that two halves made a whole. I mean, if Tom Cruise said it, it has to be true, right? Sheesh.
We all learn at some point that this type of voodoo math doesn't work with matters of the heart. It takes TWO WHOLE people, with things in common, to make a relationship work.
If you or your adult child is caught in a fractured relationship, consider turning to God or a Christian mentor for wisdom and guidance. Counseling may also be necessary and no one should EVER be ashamed of that. The shame is reserved, in my opinion, for those who feel getting help isn’t necessary, or even worse, who refuse to see they played a role in the very problems of the person in counseling. Good grief. This gets under my skin in a big way. As I often say in my posts, trust me on this....I've been there and have the scars to prove it.
I can't help but think God has brought good from these experiences by allowing me to be a writer. I'm so thankful he gives me strength to put words to the pain and more importantly, be a source to help others. I take this responsibility seriously, sweet friends.
As a mother to daughters, I can't stress the importance of girls having a father that treats their mother with respect. My girls have been blessed with a step-father who opened car doors, prayed with them, washed the dishes if they did the cooking, and pretty much did everything he could to prepare them for adult relationships. Was he 100% perfect? I think you know the answer to that. But treating us with respect has been the foundation from which he has rarely wavered. His actions are built on Biblical principals such as those found in Ephesians.
Ephesian 5: 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. If you’re in a relationship that is filled with emotional and/or physical abuse, please talk with a professional and take steps to either get out or get help.
God wants us to THRIVE and not just survive. You cannot thrive and serve God if you’re constantly miserable and in fear. I’ve often heard women comment, “I don’t want to be alone, so I just put up with it.”
But friends, there’s nothing more lonely than a woman or man stuck in a mentally or physically abusive relationship. NO ONE deserves to live in such dire isolation.
Naturally, we’re all works in progress, but there are unfortunately things about us that are very hard to change. Or, let’s just say if we do change, it’s usually preceded by a whole lot of heartache and emotional carnage.
Like you, I’ve tried hard to provide my grown kids with words of wisdom, hoping to spare them from some of the pain I endured. But just because I remind them doesn’t mean they listen. Heck, I was the same way!! How about you? For sure it's the most challenging job many of us will ever have.
No, we can’t protect our kids or our friends from heartache.We just have to be ready to help pick up the pieces if or when they allow us.
Here's a few Angie-isms that I'm a bit passionate about, especially as a Mom to daughters:
1. If you want to know how a man will treat you, watch how he treats his mother.
2. If your boyfriend has a habit that you hope to change, think again. That habit is most likely going to be part of his personality for a long time. If you already know you can’t live with that, then don’t waste your time. Move on. You’ll get over him.
3. If you act like a lady, you deserve a man that acts like a gentleman. Yes, it may be almost 2019 and we're in the midst of the me-too movement, but respect and chivalry has no expiration date.
4. If a guy is a dreamer with no actionable steps after two years to achieve it, then it’s likely he's just that—a dreamer. That’s not a provider, and all men want to provide for their families. If they don’t, then they darn well should.
5. The more gratitude and appreciation you show him, the more he’ll do to keep deserving that gratitude and appreciation. Men like to lead and that’s okay. You’re not less of a woman when you allow a man—a gentleman—to be a man.
Okay, readers, you can breathe now. I've climbed off my soapbox.
Before I receive a barrage of emails from women who think it’s utter degradation for a man to use his strength, handle tough chores and be our protector, please remember God's word.
It’s called “loving your wife as Christ loved the church.” Sure, while men love confident women who are sure of what they do and do no want, I’ve yet to meet one that enjoys being a “yes-man,” allowing his lady to call all the shots and be in control. For sure we must remember that it's a two way street.
Ephesians 5: 22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
In his commentary on Ephesians, W. Henriksen writes, “The husband is her head as being vitally interested in her welfare. He is her protector. His pattern is Christ, who as head of the Church, is its Savior.”
So in a nutshell, what does that mean? I want my husband to lead.
That doesn’t make me less of a woman. No, I don’t want a husband who barks orders, for God didn’t place him in my life for that reason. God placed him as my husband to love me as well as protect, persevere and serve our family. I must treat him with the same love and respect. No man wants to be married to a whiner or conversely, to a passive-aggressive woman who warrants nothing but anger and apathy.
Steve is the primary breadwinner in our family, while I now write books from home following a bad car accident. All situations are different, but in my home I do all that I can to keep our home tidy, have a decent meal available and give him spousal support. He knows full well I have needs as well. No, I’m not June Cleaver with pearls and a starched dress, but I am a Christian wife with a Christian husband. He's learned to be cool with me going out with girlfriends, my need for private time, and that I'm not a big phone person. When it comes down to it, each of us have to determine what we're willing to put up with and what we feel we must walk away from for the sake of our sanity and self-respect. As Christian women, it's difficult to help others if we can't take steps to first get healthy in our own relationships.
I pray the couple at dinner learn the math required to make a relationship work. If not, I hope God gives them the strength to move on, take some time to be alone, and figure out what they really need in a fulfilling relationship. As for our own children, may we all teach them the real meaning behind 1 + 1. If they remember the answer, it will be one of the most important lessons you'll ever teach. Trust me. I've been there:)