(Warning – uncharacteristically serious stuff in this post)
I want to
rant share some advice about relationships which I wish I’d heard at the right time. It would not have saved me heartache and I’m sure if I’d listened I would have gone on to make different interesting mistakes, but a recent conversation brought it home to me how deeply blessed I have been and continue to be. And in the end, it didn’t rest on me but on the grace of others.
In addition, I want to make it clear how I want my own sons to treat the future.
So, here are the things I have learned, and want them to know.
- I believe in one almighty creative and sustaining Father God. He made us, and loves us. Such a belief is not fashionable these days, but it doesn’t stop him loving us, and it doesn’t stop me loving him for it. This shapes much of my attitude to everything else. If I can trust God with the big stuff, I can equally assume he has the little stuff covered.
- There is nothing you can do about the future in real terms. Make decisions carefully but quickly when they present themselves. If you are a saver, you will always be one. Likewise a spender. Learn to live in your own skin before you stress about self improvement on a grand scale. There is a difference between deciding to stop doing something sinful (which is the right response) and trying to reshape yourself to fit in a mould you weren’t cast from (pointless). Once you start adjusting even small things, you’ll never be finished. On the other hand, be prepared to adapt to the circumstances you’re in. Life (as God ordains it, or otherwise) will constantly throw you new things to cope with.
- Make enough space to be yourself, no matter who you share your house with, but don’t neglect them. Some people can’t ask you to be there for them. Some folks don’t know they need company. Some are afraid of telling you they need the space. Making that call for them is wrong. Being there in case is right. Trusting the people around you to be honest is the best policy.
- Girls. Don’t stress over the right girl, or whether the girl you love is “the one”. She is, or at least definitely could be if you make that call together. Don’t leave her hanging around years for a proposal. Don’t overthink the rest of your life. If you are blessed with a good choice for a spouse think about it, get a measure of their opinion and go for it. Can you predict the rest of your life? No? Then afford this young lady the opportunity to face the wonderful unkown with you as a team rather than a part of your wider plan. If it’s not to be, it’s going to start to fail early. Girls often make up their minds much faster than boys about this sort of stuff anyway.
- Having said that stuff in point 4, this means you end up in a relationship with an imperfect being who likes you as you are but finds at least 5% of you irritating. Make allowances. Demonstrate your love regularly and without making a big deal about it. It’s a joyous opportunity to treat them well, not a mirthless duty. If you don’t feed your relationship it’ll fail. That’s not always going to be your fault, but if you don’t do your bit you stand to reap what you sow.
- Maintain friendships and circles of friends but show deference and priority to the love of your life. You chose her. Presumably she chose you. Invest in that first.
- Be as honest as you can. Nobody’s perfect, but hiding things is as bad as lying about them and if it makes you ashamed it will shame those around you when the light of day hits it. Be brave and take the pain now. When it passes, you will be free.
- Drunkeness might seem funny now and again but is best avoided. Be told. Hangovers get worse the older you get, and you don’t need to get into a habit that you’ll need to get out of later. See point 2.
- Children are a blessing and a joy and damned hard work. Listen to those around you, but God has blessed you with children (by whatever means. God is in the adoption papers as much as the birth certificate) because he trusts you to get on with it. Children like routine and clear limits, so they’re a bit like men anyway then. Nothing hurts harder than a child who doesn’t care about what their mother says. Boys, even as your father I’d rather you hate me than her.
- If you have read this and disagree, that’s OK. By the time you’re old enough to decide if I’m talking rubbish you’re old enough to make your own decisions about a heap of other stuff. Go do it, don’t worry about the methodology so much as the goal. Live.