For those of you familiar with Dave Ramsey, you may have heard him say, “Don’t take money advice from broke people.” I completely agree with this statement… unless, of course, the broke people are telling you NOT to do the things they did with money. Similarly, it is not wise to take relationship advice from people whose relationships are unhealthy, in turmoil, or who jump around carelessly from one relationship to the next. We are most likely to take advice about relationships, and other important situations in our lives, from the people we know and trust the most. For most of us, we would trust a close family member or a close friend to advise us in matters of the heart. However, in some cases, taking the advice of family and/or friends is a great thing… and in other cases, it is best to seek out others for relationship guidance if their relationship (present or history) isn’t so great. It’s important to know… whose relationship advice are you taking?
When deciding who to go to for advice, you first should ask what type of relationship you are looking to imitate. If you want a specific kind of marriage, you need to seek out those who have the type of marriage you are hoping to have. If you don’t have someone in your life that embodies such a marriage, then begin searching now. Observe marital relationships at your local church. Get to know couples who relate to each other the way that you envision wanting to relate to your future spouse. Study their relationships with their children. Are they relating to their children in the manner that you hope to relate to yours? If so, this is a couple worth knowing better.
Seek to spend time with such people: take them out for a meal (lunchtime often works well) and ask them how they have achieved such a commendable relationship… and prepare to be surprised. Chances are they have been through their share of rough patches. There is also a good chance that they have a list of “I wish I knew _______” before they got married. Bring a notepad and take notes! These are people who have walked the path you want to walk. If they can tell you about sand traps and other snares along the way, why would you not learn as much as possible about how to successfully travel a similar path? These days, more than 50% of people choose to get off of the path (i.e., divorce) because they thought it turned into a road of endless despair. Instead, find couples who have discovered much joy on the marital road and learn as much as you can from them.
We are affected both positively and negatively by the people with whom we spend our time. If you spend your time with women who think that men are primarily idiots and jerks or men who think that women are over-controlling and manipulative, then over time you will begin to see them in such a light yourself. Such a paradigm may manifest itself in subtle ways; but, it will affect you and your relationship.
I am blessed beyond measure to have ladies at my local church who love their husbands and show me how to better love and respect my husband. This has been invaluable to my marriage. On the other side of the coin, I have had relationships in the past with women who rarely had a nice word to say about the men in their lives. Not only did it discourage me, but I found that I would be a little angry with Eric after spending time with them. They led me to focus on the negatives in my marriage instead of the positive qualities of my marriage. Looking at the big picture, there are far more positives than negatives, and I’m so thankful to have Godly ladies who are willing to point that out to me when I lose my focus.
If you are blessed to have parents, grandparents, or know of other older couples who have a marriage worth studying, be sure to sit them down with a comprehensive list of questions. If not, ask the Lord to provide such a couple for you. We are not islands unto ourselves; we need each other. God will be faithful to provide a couple, or couples, who will be willing and able to guide you in the area of Godly relationships if you are looking for them. Now, get writing those questions on paper, set up a meeting, and prepare to learn!
From whom are you seeking and taking your relationship advice?