Archive for October, 2009

Healthy relationships are built on universal principles — rules and guidelines that apply to a vast majority of situations and can be found in the teachings of the greatest prophets, sages, gurus, and philosophers. I’d like to share affirmations of relationship principles from half-way around the globe.

Recently, I introduced myself to basic concepts, history, and scriptures from major Eastern religions. The main text I used for this study was Scriptures of the World’s Religions by James Fieser and John Powers, supplemented by many conversations with loved ones and mentors, and what I could find on Wikipedia.

Cultural differences made many of the passages bewildering. I felt disconnected with scripture due to lacking personal experience with the foreign circumstances they were written for. To overcome this, I generalized the passages until I found something I could relate to.

I am not an expert on Eastern religions, and I’m aware that what I say is strongly influenced by my own beliefs. I’m not writing in order to pass judgment on these religions but to show how through learning about them, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of what it means to be a friend and husband.

People are More Important Than Things

Hindu Aum.Wikimedia CommonsThere the sun has risen, and here my good fortune has risen. Being a clever woman, and able to triumph, I have triumphed over my husband.

I am the banner; I am the head. I am the formidable one who has the deciding word. My husband will obey my will alone, as I emerge triumphant….

The oblation that Indra made and so became glorious and supreme, this is what I have made for you, O gods. I have become truly without rival wives.

Without rival wives, killer of rival wives, victorious and pre-eminent, I have grabbed for myself the attraction of the other women as if it were the wealth of flighty women.

I have conquered and become pre-eminent over these rival wives, so that I may rule as empress over this hero and over the people.

Hindu hymn from Rg Veda

In the hymn above, a woman competed for her husband’s love. Does this happen in Western society? Yes, and not just wife for husband, but husband for wife, child for parent, parent for child, even friend for friend. If this is going on in your life, it needs to stop.

People are more important than things. A spouse is more important than a friend. If there is a “who” competing against a “what” for your love, you’d do well to rearrange your priorities. If your spouse or child is competing against a friend for your love, make the choice to end that competition. Ensure your family is foremost in your life.

Women Deserve Honor

Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own) welfare.

Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards.

Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.

In that family where the husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband, happiness will assuredly be lasting….

Hindu scripture from The Laws of Manu

This is one of the most beautiful passages I came across in my studies. Kristin continuously amazes me with her humble strength, as does my mother, and so many of my female friends. Women are the toughest creatures in creation; how well they deserve honor!

How to Love a Woman

By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.

Hindu scripture from The Laws of Manu

This brings up one of the sore spots found in many religions. By interpretation, this verse could be read as women are inferior, women need to be supervised, or women should not be independent. I disagree with these interpretations.

When I read this verse, I do not see how a woman should act. I see how one who loves a woman should act. This is not a commandment to women, but to those who love them.

Women should be supported in their endeavors: this is why they should never be independent. Not because they should never choose to be independent, but because they should never need to choose to be independent — they should have the support of those who love them.

Choose Love

Sikh Khanda.Wikimedia CommonsWhen husband and wife sit side by side, why should we treat them as two?

Outwardly separate, their bodies distinct, yet inwardly joined as one.

Comply with whatever your Spouse may desire, never resisting, spurning deceit….

Obey commands in total surrender, this is the fragrance to bring….

Abandon self-will, the Beloved draws near; no cunning will ever avail.

Be humble in manner and practice restraint, let sweetness of speech be your prayer.

Filled with the spirit of truth and contentment, the family’s pride and joy.

The one who is constant in goodness and virtue is cherished and loved by the Spouse.

Sikh scripture from Sukhmani Sahib

This is the best explanation of “the two will become one flesh” mystery of Christian marriage I’ve come across. The passage isn’t addressed to either husband or wife but to both. Both husband and wife should submit to their spouse’s desires. Both should “obey commands in total surrender.” Both should lose themselves when around the other.

This poem is delightful because it depicts love as an act of service. So often in society, influenced by Hollywood’s view of romance, we forget that love is more than a feeling — that it’s a verb as well as a noun.

Love is not just a circumstance, and it isn’t something you can’t control. Love is not only possible but inspiring and divine if continued when the feeling has faded. Choosing to love is the surest way to rekindle an ebbing spark.

Take Action:

  • Seek out and live by universal principles.
  • Study the works of the greatest minds in history (Kris and I have provided a recommended reading list, What’s on Our Shelves, on the right side of this blog).
  • Write down your responsibilities, prioritize them, and live by that ranking.
  • Make the choice to love those around you even when you don’t feel like it. 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


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Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

James 1:19

Empathetic listening is one of the easiest and most important ways to keep women happy. Women feel validated in a relationship when they feel understood. They are quality-driven in their relationships. They share their feelings simply to be listened to.

They talk about problems without looking for solutions (because it makes them feel better, which is more important than actually solving the problem). Women communicate with the hope someone will empathize with them.

Kristin’s Story:

I have a friend who struggled with when to add a child to her family. We had casually discussed our thoughts and feelings on that topic before, but one day things were different.

I found myself putting in my own two-cents but slowly discovered that wasn’t what she needed. Whenever I interjected my own thoughts into the discourse she did not exchange or connect with me as she usually did.

It was like I was placing detours in the conversation, and my friend just impatiently listened before continuing down the road she was on originally.

Shouting at Brick Wall.PinkTagI paused to take an objective view of what was going on. Suddenly I could tell that this was no longer a far away issue — my friend had reached a point where this internal conflict needed to be resolved.

She was agitated. Struggling with this decision caused her mind to wonder from immediate tasks. I could almost see the knots inside of her, twisted upon each other.

Kristin’s Analysis:

Here she was, baring an intimate part of herself, and I was turning the conversation into something about me (my views; my opinions), which was making matters worse.

She needed to have the opportunity to release all the toxins this conflict was creating, and that release was through the use of words.

So I became slow to speak and tried to let her know through short words and body language that she wasn’t alone — that I supported her in whatever the decision ended up being.

I didn’t try to solve her problem; I just listened. And later, I shared in her joy when she shyly told me she was pregnant.

It is hard to find something greater than a friend who is willing to unselfishly listen. When a trial is overwhelming you, a friend who sacrifices time and energy in order to listen is a true companion.

Eric’s Story:

Last week, right after Kris and I finished hashing out what this article would be about, she started sharing what was being discussed in her Bible study group.

They were discussing fellowship, and Kristin was upset.

She asked questions such as, “Why isn’t there more fellowship in churches?” and, “How can the sixty seconds after the Pastor says, ‘Go greet someone you don’t know’ be considered fellowship?”

She went on (“Fellowship should be about accountability and friendship”) for a couple more minutes.

Because she was excited, I began answering. “You can’t expect real fellowship the first time you attend a new church…. Relationships take time to develop…. Friendships don’t happen overnight….”

And right in the middle of my tirade, it hit me. I said, “…for children. Isn’t that what it means to be an adult — to be responsible for your own life? [This is where it hit.] And I’m having a typical male reaction, aren’t I?” We both laughed.

Eric’s Analysis:

The truth is that Kristin wasn’t really complaining about fellowship. She knows relationships aren’t instantaneous. She knows churches hold numerous functions to foster friendships. She knows sixty seconds of “how are you?” isn’t considered by most pastors as fellowship.

Kris didn’t want my advice. She didn’t need my solutions. She needed someone to listen, and as her husband, I should be the safest person for her to go to in order for her to get the empathy she needs.

Aside from the amusing story above, I’m usually pretty good at being an empathetic listener to Kris. I’ve grown accustomed to holding my opinions to myself and giving her undivided attention when she needs it.

Unfortunately, listening with no response isn’t always what’s needed. For all you men out there, here’s a piece of advice that will help you steer clear of a common pitfall.

When I’m unsure if Kris wants me to offer advice or solutions (because sometimes she does), I ask, “Are you looking for advice, or venting?” Nine times out of ten she responds, “Just venting.”

But this is where so many men fail in communicating with women. Guys think that because the woman is “just venting” that they don’t need to listen.

When a guy vents, he doesn’t care whether or not anybody is listening. When a guy vents, he is usually thinking out loud.

But when a woman vents, and you want to see that woman happy, her venting better be the most important thing in the world to you.

Oh, and guys, empathetic listening is much easier than most of us think.

When Kris comes home frustrated over something at work which I can’t solve (this happens a lot with Kris as an officer in the military; most of her frustrations are caused by “classified” problems), all I need to do is give her my full attention, attempt to feel her pain, then give her a hug and a kiss when she’s done. Problem solved.

The next time you find it difficult to communicate with a woman, simply listen. Do your best to place yourself in her shoes, consider what she says, ask questions in order to understand what she is going through, and validate her feelings.

She’ll trust you more, you’ll be happier, and your relationship will deepen.

Image: ©iStockphoto.com/PinkTag

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