Not that all my previous Letters have been a waste of time and I’ve been saving myself, but I think the following is important and subtle to claiming a more substantive life than the one you’re currently living. I am making an assertion in this Letter, which means that what I’m about to say is arguable. Which means that I am either seeing something you’re not or I’m seeing something not there. Or, I suppose, what is subtle to me is obvious to everyone else and I’m a drama queen. Regardless, it’s all for you to decide anyway. By setting the stage thus, I am asking you to see just past where you’re used to seeing, stretch your mental fingertips out to touch a new sensation and categorize it as new. That’s where growth comes from, a categorization of something new.
In talking to a fellow traveler in marriage, he is having difficulty in connecting with his wife on important stuff. He loves her and believes she loves him. They have been having years-long difficulty for all kinds of reasons. Seemingly, by his description, the challenges are mainly because of an inability to connect, to feel like they’re on the same page, to have their cups filled by each other. Given his current approach with her, she is not responding to his efforts in such a way that makes him feel as though they’re making progress; rather, they’re just struggling for power. And here’s the real thing, because this has gone on for so many years and hasn’t changed much, he feels powerless to change circumstances or change her. Life is happening to him.
Now, I could cut to the chase and detail the advice I offered him about Languages of Love drawing small value in this story even though that information is a critical piece of the marital puzzle. There’s no subtle revelation in that. In fact, by characterizing his life as a treasure hunt where he’s just in search of that missing clue that will allow him to read the map and thereby find happiness is a losing perspective. It perpetuates the victim mentality that he faces, that we all face.
Life is not happening TO him, but THROUGH him. It’s that misconceptualization of his life that is at the heart of his issues. He’s not powerless. He can change himself. In fact, that’s the only thing he can change. He can change his perspectives. He can invite new ideas, new information, new priorities, new reactions, new habits, and most importantly, new disciplines of the mind. He can pursue an elegant solution that lifts himself and invites a path for his wife to lift herself. Even though he can’t see an immediate way forward, he must believe there is a way forward that leads him to the life he desires.
This Letter is not about marriage, or about this guy; this Letter is about you mentally capturing tomorrow what you can’t capture today. The blessing this guy has is that he’s really unhappy. Pain is a great motivator. For that pain, he’s willing to explore ideas with someone else. Even though his perspectives currently place him as a victim, he’s trying to push out. If he persists, he’ll find a path forward. But what if he weren’t so unhappy, but just happy enough – kind of a lukewarm happiness. What then? Wouldn’t he continue in his victim mentality? And, what if he takes this Love Languages idea and finds some growth and marital happiness in the short run, but settles back into old victimizing habits later and concludes that Love Languages were a passing fad?
The Good is the enemy of the Best. You can’t hear this aphorism enough. The above scenario is a challenge to you who might look at this guy’s marriage and conclude “That ain’t me. I’ve got a good marriage, a good career, a good life. He’s a victim and I am not.” If you have that thought, then you might be running the risk of complacency. You might be missing a perspective that will lift you to a new level of maturity and wisdom that you don’t currently possess that is just barely at your mental grasp if you reach out.
The topic can be in marriage or business or health. Health is classic for the subtlety of my point – just because you don’t hurt today doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Good enough isn’t good enough, really, because in the end, good doesn’t last.
So, where’s the subtlety? There’s no telling whether you get my point or not because the subtlety is in the implications. I can only write out so many scenarios and none of them will apply to you. So you have to extract the point, apply it to your spectrum, age, energy, motivation, etc. and seek what I think is Godly direction ever propelling you up the mountain. Then experience will draw out the nuance of avoiding being victimized by doing good enough.
To your maximal life outcome,