Life is a classroom filled with many subjects, in which we are all students. There are certain things as students we need to know, understand and apply to our lives when it comes to relationships.
I often look back on my younger days, recalling answers to many questions posed to me on relationships. One question in particular stood out to me, which was “what do you look for in a man?” I remember giving answers such as the way he dresses, how attractive he is and whether or not he is the perfect height. If that same question was posed to me today, my answer would be different because my outlook on life and the things I value as important to me, has changed. Today I would answer that question with, “his attention to details.” What do I mean by this? He may not know how to coordinate a pair of pants with a shirt and his physical appearance is limited to his DNA, thus he has no say in the matter, but his attention to detail is of great importance in a relationship. When a man can say to you, I love the way your nose twitches when you laugh and the way you intertwine your fingers and look away when you’re shy, and the way you clench your fist and grind your teeth and furrow your eyebrows when you are mad and can’t find the next word to say, and the way you bite your bottom lip when you know you are wrong and are sorry, this is a man that pays attention to details.
How attractive is it for a man and a woman in a relationship to know each other not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well; to understand each other from the inside out. Familiarizing themselves with the little boy/girl that’s on the inside of him/her, to fully appreciate the man and woman they have become.
Young boys have often heard their mother or father tell them to hold the door so the young lady may walk through first, or to pull her chair out so that she may sit down. These are elementary gestures however, and are meant to be built upon to a point where attention to detail is of great importance to them. Some men might say “I open the car door for her all the time, and I always pull out her chair. I am the perfect gentleman; what more does she want?” She may say to herself “I am attentive to his needs and I work as hard as he does. What more does he want from me?” If you are asking yourself these questions, then something is clearly wrong. And what might that be? Until the root of the matter is found and addressed these questions will always remain unanswered.
Let us do a little analogy. Imagine we get a laceration on our arm, so deep that it requires medical attention – resulting in stitches and antibiotics, and instead of seeking out such medical assistance, we wrap our arm in gauze to cover up our condition, blood seeps through the gauze yet we continue applying more layers of gauze to cover up the laceration and eventually the pain becomes too much to bear while infection sets in and our condition becomes dire. The same principle applies in a relationship. When a problem arises and is left unattended, it’s like placing a band-aid on a laceration and as more problems arise more band-aids are applied. Then by the time you decide to deal with the problems the layers are already too thick, now you are faced with more problems because bitterness, blame and anger have set in. Then you ask yourself the questions, “how did we get to this point? Can this be fixed? Where do we start?”
The answer is to start at the root. All of the layers must be exposed down to the root in order to address the problem. If paying attention to details was of importance in the relationship, then all of this dissecting could have been avoided.
A lot of lessons that should be learned before we get involved in a life-long relationship are often overlooked, sometimes because of inexperience or lack of guidance or counselling.
3 Basic Forms of Relationships
1. The Frame Relationship
I have found that there are three basic forms of relationships. The frame, the crutch and the structural relationship. The basic idea behind the frame relationship is need. Imagine a picture frame that houses a picture. The picture is able to be hung on the wall because of the frame. Without the frame the picture cannot be hung. All too often in our relationships we allow others to become our frame in life. Without them we feel like our life is void of meaning, support or structure. We have a hard time standing on our own; everything that pertains to our life is situated in that other person who we have allowed to become our frame. And if they are ever removed from our life, we feel powerless and weak to stand on our own; just as the picture cannot hang on the wall without a frame.
2. The Crutch Relationship
The objective behind the crutch relationship is validation. The individual does not believe their dreams or desires can come to fruition without the validation of someone else. They don’t believe they are good enough or that they have worth, so they spend their life depending on the other individual’s opinion in order to move forward. Thus, when that person is no longer there to bear them up, they collapse under the pressures of life.
3. The Structural Relationship
The concept behind the structural relationship is support based on partnership. Both parties are equally invested in the growth and maintenance of the relationship. There is a balance of give and take. The scaffoldings are in place so as to aid in building the relationship from the foundation to its desired direction.
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