Does what doesn’t kill you; make you stronger?
Now that’s an interesting question in the context of relationships, don’t you think?
Of course, we all have received and given relational insults causing pain, mostly unintentionally. Ernest Hemmingway’s quote from Farewell to Arms that the opening question is based on reads: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Interestingly, in context, Hemmingway’s point is that if we do not allow ourselves to bend enough to be broken, life will kill us. Here are some thoughts applying this wisdom to relationships.
Rigidity in relationships can be deadly.
We all know trying to force change in our partner will not work. Forcing results in an immovable object meeting an irresistible force. Shifting must be voluntary. Try these tips instead:
• Consider developing the art of bending or compromise.
• Choose regularly to spontaneously give a little rather than stand your ground.
• Soften your heart, because hardened hearts shatter.
Choose to become bitter or better?
The choice is always there. When we let hurt metastasize into bitterness it creates relational toxicity. Someone once said, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Use these strategies instead:
• Don’t deny relational hurts but don’t wallow in them.
• Keep short accounts and forgive easily.
• Ask yourself: What do “I” need to learn from this?
We all create a narrative in our head about relational wounds. It’s the story we tell ourselves. These stories construct a mindset or vibe we put out. Attitudes also become filters limiting what we see. Try the following:
• Eavesdrop on your internal narrative about your partner. Ask, “What’s an alternate and generous story I can tell myself about my partner?”
• Cultivate the attitude of looking for the best in your partner, not the worst.
• Surround yourself with those who tell stories about the “best” in their spouses.
Remember, a great marriage doesn’t happen when the “perfect couple” gets together. It happens when an imperfect couple gets together and learns to enjoy each other’s differences.