As a counselor and marriage educator, it seems that many people with relationship problems are more focused on the relationship than on God. Rather than being who they are in Christ, couples pursue their fulfillment and satisfaction through the relationship. Yes, the marriage relationship is the place where many of our emotional needs should be met, but the tendency often is that husband and wife are solely focused on their spouse for every need they have. Their trust and dependence is primarily in the relationship and not in God. This will cause fear and insecurities which can lead to attacking, demanding, or criticizing one’s spouse. It can even lead to denying needs exist or to isolation.
The unhealthy focus on people rather than God results in many problem
We see this phenomenon in teenagers; friendships often become the primary focus of their lives. They look for affirmation, acceptance and even their significance in friends. Many become rude and sarcastic toward parents and family: because they resent the “control” of their parents; first, because our culture of independence has conditioned us to accept this ungodly behavior as part of “the adolescence experience;” and second, because they are searching for significance and seeking it outside of their families. Parental affirmation is no longer enough for them. It is sad that we, as a Christian population, are not taught from an early age, that our significance, our importance in the world comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ, rather than through mankind. Adolescents simply are a product of their home environment; an environment, most often, that focuses more on the relationship than on their Savior.
Obviously, not all teens become enmeshed in their peers seeking affirmation and acceptance, but a large proportion do and it happens in both dysfunctional and very loving homes. Yes, there is a certain amount of breaking away that is a necessary part of becoming an adult, but when children are not trained to find their significance in God, they are in danger of putting a disproportional amount of energy seeking affirmation in friends rather than trusting their God and Savior. They find the “love of their life” in high school and think that they cannot survive the loss of that boyfriend or girlfriend, because their trust is in the relationship rather than in God. Fast forward a few years and these adults now look to husband or wife or children or perhaps, still to friends to make them feel worthwhile and when it doesn’t happen, they may turn to drugs, alcohol, or chase after unhealthy relationships attempting to feel significant and worthwhile.
Trusting in the relationship; as author Kenn Kington defined it, is; ‘looking to our spouse to meet our needs, make us happy and make our lives worthwhile’ and it only leads to disappointment, discouragement and unhappiness. Yet, we marry with these expectations and when those expectations are not met, life becomes this titanic struggle seeking significance and getting needs met. Some end up in serial relationships seeking the holy grail of ‘happily ever-after.’ Many live in dysfunctional relationships; vainly striving to have their needs met and feel significant. Nearly half of Christian marriages end in divorce; not because of finances or even the sin of one spouse, but because one or both could not achieve the happiness they expected from their marriage relationship. They just gave up and began looking elsewhere for their significance and happiness.
Self-pity arises when people don’t get what they want or think they need.
Self-pity leads to hurt, pain, anger, and even to depression and despair. We must realize that it is self-pity, a focus on self; my needs, my desires, my, my, my. Life becomes all about self and it actually stems from pride; the belief that we deserve health, happiness and significance. We deserve death and damnation, but God, in His incredible grace and mercy gives life and even an abundant life. The God of the Universe, the Creator of mankind and all things reaches out to people; saying, ‘trust in Me; I love you and I am here for you.’ In Matthew, chapter 6, Jesus said that it is the pagans who chase after getting their needs met, that we are to trust in the God who cares for us so much more than the splendor of the world He created. He is a God we can trust in; He is worthy of our trust and when we trust in relationship rather than the God of relationship, we, in reality, have made the relationship an idol. Comparable to the cast idols of the pagans, relationship cannot save us, meet our needs or bring significance to our lives. God does not bless idolatrous relationships; no wonder there are so many dysfunctional, troubled marriages!
What is the answer to this problem? The Gospel of Jesus Christ! To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and to love others as yourself. Kenn Kington eloquently applies the Gospel to relationship; “If you will just be the person God has made you to be, and find out how you can give your life to someone else by meeting their needs and making them happy, you will discover fulfillment, joy, and peace in ways you can’t even imaging.” The Christ-centered marriage is not about getting your needs met or finding your significance in others; it is about meeting your spouse’s needs and making him or her feel significant. You must trust in the Lord your God for all your needs and look to Him for your significance, not to your spouse, children, family, friends, or anything else. Like, Paul, you need to ‘Learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil 4:12) It is a choice you can make by the power of the Holy Spirit. Begin today!