(Please let me preface this post by saying when I talk about love putting up with anything, I am absolutely not talking about abuse in relationships, on any level. Abuse of any kind in a relationship is never ok, and is completely intolerable and not at all a part of the definition of real love in relationships).
‘It always protects’ (1 Corinthians 13:7 – NIV)
We all put up with a lot in our relationships, simply by virtue of the fact that we’re all imperfect people. In Paul’s first letter to Peter, he implores us to ‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8), and The Message bible translates this as ‘Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything’.
That’s a pretty challenging statement – love makes up for practically anything.
Differences of opinions.
Doing things differently to how we do them.
The hard stuff of love.
Matthew Henry asks ‘What cannot a lover endure for the beloved and for his sake!‘ , and from my experience, you don’t know the answer to that question until you’re in the thick of it. And I’ve found that actually, when we love someone, we can put up with a whole lot more than we thought possible. Not only that, we don’t highlight or publicise their faults, simply because we love them.
It’s not always easy – in fact, it’s often plain, downright hard and uncomfortable and irritating and sometimes painful.
But it’s what we do.
Because at the end of the day, as I said before, we’re all imperfect, and if we’re putting up with someone else’s shortcomings, they’re putting up with ours.
That’s what love is. Give and take. Push/pull. Imbalance. Ebb and flow. Lots of deep breathing.
When we love each other like this, we are saying ‘yes, you annoy me, no, I don’t like your behaviour and yes I’m hurt – but because I’m committed to this, because I’m choosing love, I’ll deal with it and won’t make it into a bigger deal than it is. Let’s move on’.
Or something like that.
I know I’m probably not the only one thinking ‘I wish that was as easy as it sounds’. I can only speak from experience, in that I’ve found it’s one of those things that gets easier with practice!! And lots of deep breathing. And counting to 5. Or 10.
And talking. Lots of talking. People don’t know how they affect us if we don’t tell them, and in the long run, it’s a lot more effective to talk to someone about what we find annoying/irritating/hurtful about their behaviour than to just avoid a potentially difficult conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean people are always willing to change their behaviour or actions, and we are the only ones who can choose how we respond.
But honestly? Just talk. And listen. And be willing to compromise.
How do you manage the imbalances in your relationships?