Desiring More, Settling for Less

dating, marriage, loveWhat is it about we humans wherein we want diamonds, but we settle for broken glass? We see this in many areas of our life; jobs, exercise, and relationships to name a few. We want good things for ourselves, meaningful work, a sleek rock-hard body, a learned mind, a happy fulfilling marriage- all of which are attainable goals.

I do not write as someone who has figured it all out. My journals are still packed with years of wanting to “eat healthy and lose weight… blah, blah, blah.” At this point in my journey I am seriously running out of time on Earth. It’s now or never.

What is it that motivates some people to go after what they want with all the gusto of a hurricane, while others sit on the sidelines just wishing it were them? Did the Lord bless them with a double dose of virtue or what?

Let’s look at the area of relationships since I’m in the marriage business and have a ringside seat.

When it comes to marriage, some well-meaning couples naively try to fit a square peg into a heart-shaped hole.

We all know people who try with all their might to force a long-term relationship to happen. Maybe they’ve been together for years, perhaps even live together, and are sexually active, (duh!). They both have spoken and unspoken expectations of each other, and are hopeful the other will eventually deliver. Each hopes the other will change over time or perhaps after they are married (if they ever get that far). There may even be serious disparity on the things that matter. What the other person is willing to deliver, and the expectation, may be as wide as the canyon; yet they stick it out. A necessary attribute critical to marriage, but ill-advised in cohabitation. They aren’t particularly fulfilled personally or with the other, but they don’t want to give up or leave because they’ve “invested too much” already. The second-rate fantasy they settle for, is better than being alone.

Or is it?

We were meant for greatness, and for happiness beyond our wildest imagination. Why do we remain in relationships that are less than we deserve? Believe it or not, settling is so far beneath our dignity. The question before us then is do you think happy, faithful, fun, life-long marriages are attainable or a fairy tale?

Am I advocating giving up on your spouse if you are currently in an unfulfilling marriage? NO! Start here for suggestions on how to begin the good work of a happy marriage. I am specifically addressing unmarried relationships which we don’t end of out of fear of loneliness, what other’s might think, or the loss of deposits.

Questions that are worthy of pondering honestly and deeply in your heart are these;

  • Does the person I love, love me more than they love themselves?
  • If some unforeseen illness or accident should befall me, would this person stick around for the long haul to take care of me?
  • Am I first in their life? Before work, friends, extended family, pets, or even ice cream? Yes, ice cream. (Notice I didn’t say chocolate, LOL)
  • Does he or she challenge me to be a better person?
  • Would I brag about all aspects of this person’s character, interests, or what they do behind closed doors, or is there embarrassment or shame?
  • Are there any addictions or harmful behaviors that I am ignoring and hoping will go away?
  • Would I want this person to be the parent of my child? (As they are now, not what I hope they will become?)

If you are not deliriously happy with pretty much every attribute of this person, then I ask you to consider seeking what is best for both of you. Using each other is nothing, compared to loving each other? They are diametrically opposed. Love places the other above self, always. Lust places self before all else. It might just be worth the risk of being alone for awhile as you figure things out, weighing the implications of the notion that you both deserve better than what the relationship has delivered.

I’ve noticed when couples get on the “marriage train” they don’t know how to get off, even, when there is a “red flag parade” preceding them to their wedding day. It’s one thing if your wedding color is red, and quiet another if it is indicative of the status of your relationship.

God has a plan for each of us. Some for married life, others single, and still others a vocation in religious life. Living out your unique vocation only leads to great happiness.

The first place to begin is by asking God to show you what wonderful plans he has for you, and to give you the necessary courage if it means leaving a long-time relationship. It is much more painful trying to force something that isn’t right, than to surrender to new possibilities. Prayer and God’s grace will make the journey easier. Believe, and trust that God’s plan for your life will be immensely better than all the wishing you may be doing, hoping someone will be the someone, they are not.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com