Archive for September, 2010

No More Manipulation

The Key to Authentic Relationships

By Fred R. Lybrand

How do you find the right person for a romantic relationship? Once you’ve found that individual, how do you figure out if he or she is the one God ultimately wants you to marry? And for that matter, how do you learn to relate authentically so you can actually get to know each other and decide whether you belong together?

These questions have eternal implications. If you get married, so many major elements of your future—your place of residence, work, children, and grandchildren (not to mention the dreams, joys, suffering, and hopes you’ll experience) are all connected to this one “simple” factor: the person who will be your partner in building a life together.

Since the stakes are high, it’s no surprise that for many, the focus of dating (or courting) as well as prayer about a future spouse tend to be on trying to secure guarantees, even from God. You might find yourself hoping that compatibility on personality tests, family background, and degrees or jobs, along with a by-the-book courtship and engagement will insure the success of your marriage—and that it will be better than other marriages. Or, because you’re so focused on guaranteeing the future with the person you feel is “the one,” you begin to treat dating like marriage. This presumes a depth of commitment and relational identity that isn’t appropriate and, in turn, invites jealousy and possessiveness.

I’ve known far too many people who focused on doing all the “right” things but whose courtship or marriage didn’t work out. The truth is, no one formula comes with a surefire guarantee. And that’s because relationships, contrary to what many would like to think, aren’t built on formulas.

The way to counter such misconceptions is to focus on truth. If you’re sincerely open to what the Lord wants for your life, you can relinquish trying to be in control. Then you’ll be free to relate genuinely to others and will enjoy healthier, more authentic relationships. You’ll also experience greater freedom as you walk on the path God opens up for you.

LIE #1: If you follow the right process, you’ll have a successful marriage.

TRUTH: When you fall into the trap of trying to guarantee how your partnership will go, the future becomes the focus in everything you do. But then you stop living in the present, where relating really happens. This is not to say that thinking about the future is bad; it’s actually important. But if it’s the main focus, and you spend all of your energy planning and scheming, you’ll likely miss out on truly connecting.

Married couples can actually do the same thing in a different way. If they concentrate all their energy and time on securing their future retirement, it’s easy to miss out on enjoying and working on their relationship in the present. If something doesn’t go as planned (like a health crisis or collapsed investments), they might not even get to enjoy their saved wealth or free time—and nothing can buy back the years they missed out on each other.

Only the Lord knows your future. By coming to terms with that truth, you can start to rest in Him and give up on manipulating the outcome. You may even start to enjoy the friendship as it is in the present!

LIE #2: If we act just the right way and say just the right things, we can get others to respond the way we want.

TRUTH: Control-free relating derives from simply speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), with no agenda. Truth is the lifeblood of real relationships. When you’re not preoccupied with what to say next or how to elicit a certain response, you can start connecting effectively and actually get to know each other.

Often, people chain relationships to personal goals. When this happens, you are motivated by an agenda that is self-serving, and the partnership is no longer balanced. Furthermore, if you use the other party to achieve a personal goal but don’t admit it to yourself or that individual, your friendship becomes dishonest. This is fertile ground for problems.

Manipulation occurs when you’re not acting truthfully and as a result aren’t supporting the other person. If you insist that he or she act or react a certain way, you harm the possibility of genuine connection (something which can occur only when you both speak truth).

It takes two people for manipulation to happen, though. Even if only one person is overtly controlling, the other is enabling. Both types of dysfunction are serious hindrances to a healthy union.

In order to connect genuinely with someone else, it is essential that you communicate what you honestly think, and that you act without any pretense. And allowing the other person to do likewise produces trust—which is the key ingredient for healthy love. Truth, love, and freedom are the basis for strong, successful relationships.

Are you inadvertently derailing healthy relationships? In his book Glaen: A Novel Message on Romance, Love, & Relating, Dr. Fred Lybrand offers insight and advice in this unique and fun-to-read story. To purchase, visit our online bookstore or call Customer Care at 1-800-789-1473  (US) or 1-800-323-3747 (Canada).


Softcover | $15 (U.S.)

THIS ARTICLE COMES FROM IN TOUCH MAGAZINE: http://www.intouch.org/magazine/content/topic/no_more_manipulation


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So, Jerry Springer has another show called, “Baggage.”

I’ve got to admit, it is actually pretty interesting to see contestants work on a decision to go on a first date as they learn a few secret flaws in one another. I confess I haven’t been much of a fan of Springer in the past, and I don’t know that Baggage will win me over. I’ve always thought we should have a bumper sticker based on Springer’s other show. The sticker would simply say, “Dysfunction is not a Competition.”
Well, in keeping with his game, we have a new form of dysfunction-is-competition from Mr. Springer. But first, on the good side, Jerry always tries to bring some moral lesson to light in terms of tolerance, forgiveness, and remembering we are all flawed humans. I honestly think he believes what he’s saying— but his delivery system for the message is pretty much just entertainment with a generous portion of hype.
The Point is Good
The point of telling the truth and learning the awful secrets we all (supposedly) have is right on. Surely we should all do ‘due diligence’ to find out what kind of person we are moving toward building a life with. Surprises are great when they are good, but awful when they are bad. Getting couples to tell the truth makes sense and seems harmless enough, right?

The Point is Bad

Unfortunately, off the bat most of us can understand that divulging our ‘baggage’ to other people we don’t know on national television is, to say the least, bad form. To do so with an eye on deciding to go on a date is just downright silly. The silliness is multiplied by the artificial nature of of a TV show and a dopamine-driven audience which could just as easily be at
WrestleMania. My apologies to the memory of Andre the Giant.
Some Perspective
I make the case in Glaen: A Novel Message on Romance, Love, and Relating, that there are two things that go into a great long-lasting relationship:

  1. Chemistry
  2. Basis

Chemistry has to do with whether or not there is any attraction or connection with the other person. Basis has to do with the shared values needed to build a life together. Basis is really about understanding if there are any deal-killers in play. You know, if you don’t want to have any children and your spouse-to-be wants lots of children—well there’s a problem! It really can be anything and it is important to tell the truth. Yet, on a first date and on national television; don’t you have to wonder if it’s a fair shake? People actually grow sometimes and yet, some do not! I watched an episode that had as the ‘baggage’ a final unveiling that our contestant would never move out of his momma’s house because she cooked, cleaned, and could babysit the kids as they grew up. All I could think about is that at least The Waterboy (Adam Sandler) moved out of his momma’s house. Here are a few of the questions I’ve been asked about Springer’s Baggage show:

  • How soon is too soon to tell the truth?
  • Do you freak out the other person on the first date?
  • Is it OK to keep some secrets (even if you end up getting married)?
  • How is the best way to discuss “baggage” without overreacting?
  • Should some things be “deal-breakers”?  How do you know if you honestly want to know?

Well, clearly there isn’t much of a point freaking out the other person on the first date; only a person with issues would like that! Basically, I can’t see the wisdom in continuing to date someone you know for a fact you would never marry. That is just ridiculously unkind unless they get it too and agree. Of course, then it really isn’t quit dating; rather, it’s a couple of folks sharing a rent car for companionship on a drive to getting dropped off at the Match.com national headquarters.

I believe the more truth the better, but I would offer a couple of boundaries:

  1. The other person honestly wants to know the truth
  2. It’s private (respectful)

Forcing information on someone who doesn’t want to know the gory details is not actually showing much respect for their freedom. Blabbing it out in front of a crowd does show much respect for the relationship. I get it, Springer’s show is a gag…but people can turn gags into grandiose experiments. Why not just ask if they want to know? They may not, but you are
better for offering.
Glaen is the unfolding story of someone learning what real relating is all about, all the while avoiding the 7 Fatal Mistakes of Dating. It does involve being true to yourself and and truthful to the other person. You’ll never get there without the truth, but Springer’s approach overshoots the runway by two canyons and a bottomless lake.
I’d recommend a careful reading of Glaen, but you can watch Springer for one simple reason; there is a macabre comfort in seeing that your baggage isn’t as bizarre at least one other person. You might also see why the person you’ve got (or may have soon) ain’t so bad!

Remember: Dysfunction is not a competition!

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