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For Better or Me: Surviving the self-fulfillment ethic, part 1
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Here we are already in June, a time for one of the joys of life: relationships between boys and girls.

June is indeed “the love month.” It is a favorite month for weddings. Most of us are glad for these celebrations of commitment for our sons, daughters, friends and family members. It is one of God’s greatest joys to see a man and woman joined together in love. I believe you have to have “been there” to truly understand the bond that forever exists between a man and woman bonded by the honor and exchange of God’s love and guidance in their marriage.

But wait — let’s review one of my recent articles, in which I mentioned that certain dysfunctions interfered with each other’s lives. We know that everyone brings dysfunctions into even the best relationships. How about men and women who have given their pledge under God’s ordinance in marriage? Surely they can’t have any problems, let alone dysfunctions in their young marriages. After all, they seemed so happy; they danced together at the reception, tried to smear cake on each other faces and went on a great honeymoon. And, some would say, “They went through faith-based or clinical counseling before they were married!”

Selfishness is considered by many Christian marriage and family counselors to be one of the top three dysfunctions in couples. It is very possible therefore, that it could be one of the main enemies of marriage if not dealt with. It comes as no surprise that selfishness is ubiquitous; it’s in politics, business, academics, sports, friendships, dating, church and marriage. It starts early in life. When the kids were small, how many of us have heard from one of the kids, “Bubba won’t share with me?” A lot of what they learn growing up is from parents. We forget that kids don’t miss much of anything. We’re so absorbed in our own lives, we forget that when dysfunction seems normal, it’s a hard habit to break. Children tend to carry these feelings into adulthood as normal behaviors. It is best to try and deal with selfishness before it has a chance to be a negative influence on what could be a great, lifelong relationship built on God’s example of love for us.

To make my point a little more contemporary, I consulted a “techie” to illustrate what I mean in an easier state of the art dialogue. Here’s an example how a recently married wife sought help for her husband and what she felt was the start of dysfunction in her marriage. Let’s see if there might be the start of a problem here. Does this sound familiar?

Dear Tech Support: Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed that the new program began making unexpected changes to my software and limiting access to flowers and jewelry applications that operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs such as Romance 9.0 and installed other undesirable programs such as NFL 5.0 and Braves Baseball 3.0. Conversation and Communication 8.0 no longer runs, and Housekeeping 2.6 simply crashes my system. Have tried Nagging 5.3, but to no avail. Please help. Signed, Desperate.
Dear Desperate: Keep in mind that Boyfriend 5.0 is entertainment software, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. If all else fails, enter command C:/I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME (all uppercase) and install Tears 6.2. Husband 1.0 should automatically run Guilty 3.0 and Flowers 7.0.

WARNING: Overuse of the mentioned applications can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy and Silent 2.5, Happy Hour with the Boys 7.0 or Frequent Fishing Trips 6.1. Do not install Call Mom or Mother-in-Law, as they are not support applications. Husband 1.0 has a limited memory; suggest buying additional software, including Favorite Dinner 4.0 and Lingerie 8.0. Signed, Tech Support.

Next week, I’ll present more defined, realistic and concerning areas of selfishness in relationships and marriages. Topics will include commitment phobia, soul mate syndrome, unreasonable expectations, dissatisfaction and pessimism in relationships, controlling selfishness and how following the teachings of Jesus Christ can motivate us to serve others before ourselves.

Stephen ministers know and care about relationships, especially marriage. We know that good relationships are the No. 1 element in a successful life. We have helped many to overcome problematic circumstances in their marriages and personal lives in a totally confidential, faith based and gender sensitive environment. Have questions or need help? Call 320-7840 for a confidential appointment.

Scherer is a crisis intervention minister and the leader of the local Stephen Ministry.

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