Your Mediocre Relationships Great
9, 1989, the headline of every major newspaper stated simply
and in dramatic fashion, "THE WALL COMES DOWN!"
Every television news anchor on every channel broke in with
live coverage of one of the most significant events of the
watched, with eyes glued to the radiant glow of their sets,
the mesmerizing images of this historic happening. For when
the Berlin Wall was dismantled, stone by stone, all of a
sudden things that weren't, were. Those who had for so long
been divided were united. And there was great joy and celebration!
On this glorious day in 1989, this unwelcome barrier was
no more. What a sweet sight to watch the first stone fall!
too many are living in relationships with similar walls
of shame erected between them and other important people
in their lives. These walls come in many shapes and sizes
and are built for varied reasons. Some are high and solid
and have been built with the pain of betrayal or loss. Some
are less imposing, but were carefully constructed to keep
others out, thus avoiding the pain and inevitable conflict
that comes from the human experience. After all, life is
painful and is best experienced by staying out of harms
way at all costs, right?
there are those walls whose existence actually grieves us.
We want desperately to be a part of meaningful and rich
relationships but we are met at every turn by barriers that
we are not equipped to break through. Things are going great.
Life is good. Everyone is healthy, happy and in full agreement.
We are running side-by-side with confidence, congenially
remarking to each other how wonderful the race is.
the unexpected difficulty rears its head. Our expectation
of someone goes unmet. Communication breaks down. A promise
is broken. A lie is told. Feelings are hurt. Hearts are
broken. We honestly want to get over the wall, but try as
we might to make it work, we are left utterly drained and
ultimately frustrated. Even our closest relationships are
steeped in mediocrity because excellence and fulfillment
lie on the unreachable other side of the wall.
have convinced themselves that deep relationships are merely
a pipe dream. They feel like they carry too much baggage
to see their way clear to anything beyond the status quo.
They would love more than anything to walk a mile in the
shoes of those "fortunate" souls on the green
side of the fence whose marriages are strong and healthy,
whose families are content and delight in each other's company
and whose friendships flourish with mutual support.
say, "If you understood my background you would see
why I am just not good at relationships" or "Certain
individuals simply seem to have the knack for relating to
others in a positive way and I was just not blessed with
great people skills" or "The rocks in the road
of my relationship with (insert name here) have left it
hopelessly beyond repair."
isn't it, how for every flaw or shortcoming we are unable
or unwilling to face, an excuse stands readily available
for us to wield against anyone who might dare suggest that
we face it head on. But it should not be that way. And it
doesn't have to be.
Relationships are hard. A man once said that life would
be a piece of cake if it weren't for other people. I wholeheartedly
disagree! Life would be miserable without others to share
it with. But relationships are still very hard.
can we do? Well, to begin we must first realize that we
cannot change others. Intellectually we know that, yet we
spend a majority of our time trying to manipulate the behavior
of others to more closely resemble our own. We try over
and over and we fail over and over.
me stop here and clearly state that I am certainly not so
naïve nor too jaded to acknowledge that there are many
in terrible, heart-breaking relationships through no fault
of their own. I meet people every day who are hurting and
hollow of peace due to some reckless, insensitive soul reeking
havoc on their lives. But the reality of what I can and
cannot change remains.
most obvious place to begin working on our relationships
is to work on ourselves. Perhaps you have tried all other
means and have met head-on, at every turn, with a wall.
May I suggest that you back away from the wall and turn
to one of the most revealing, and often painful, places
you can look - a mirror? You see, the chief question for
me is not, "Why have I been put in this difficult situation?"
or even, "How can I facilitate change in those around
only valid and productive question to ask is "How can
I enrich the lives of those with whom I come in contact
and be for them the loving example that I would like them
to ultimately be for me?" That's not pop psychology
my friends. In fact that statement flies in the face of
so-called 'relationship experts' who are quick to merely
pat you on the back and gently convey to you that you are
A.O.K. and that the problem plaguing your relationship must
lie somewhere outside of you.
me pose to you, and to you alone, a challenging question.
Are you truly satisfied with the depth and breadth of your
relationships? Are you the husband, wife, parent, child,
friend, etc. that you really want to be? No? Then I invite
you to roll up your sleeves, grab your hammer and let's
begin chipping away at those walls. It is the only real
way to truly revitalize and revolutionize our tired relationships.
forget to remove the pictures of those "imperfect"
others from your mind, who you think may need to read this
message more than you. Take that first good look in the
mirror and strike your first blow to that pesky wall. What
a sweet sight to watch the first stone fall!
Mann is an experienced trial attorney, author and frequent
speaker. He is the author of The Real Thing: The Four Essential
Components of Authentic Relationships. He currently resides
in Huntsville, Alabama where he continues to practice law.
Contact him or order the book at firstname.lastname@example.org
or his web site at www.alanmann.net