Rule # 89: Guilt is no aphrodisiac
In keeping this blog I try to share insights to my children when they are revealed to me.
I make effort to keep the rules practical, leading to specific life advice that can help guide them in their life decisions.
I have watched several of my kids deal with breaking up with girlfriends or boyfriends. Through my words and action I have instill a strong moral sense, and the desire to do the ” right thing” in my children’s lives. I’ve seen the kids enter and leave relationships with the desire to be seen as the “nice guy/girl” and not hurt anyone. This desire to be liked and to be kind may seem like it good thing, but it may not be so clear.
One of the proudest moments of my life was when my son Collin said at the Thanksgiving table during our annual ” go around the table and say what you are thankful for” rituals that he was Thankful to have a stepfather that was the most honorable man he knew. That made me feel really great, but also worried me.
Had my process of protecting the family, and taking the high road put too much of a moral burden on my kids. Because the simple fact is that in breaking up with someone who doesn’t want be broken up with is a messy painful process. Moral high road can become impassable, filled with fallen trees of the relationships past failures.
There is a line spoken by Dorothy in the movie Jerry MacGuire that sums up the problem pretty well. It is when she is explaining to Jerry why they have to end the relationship and why they have to walk away..
“My need to make the best of things, and your need to be what, “responsible”… if one of us doesn’t say something now we might lose ten years being polite about it.”
I may have taught my kids to be too polite in relationships.
Through my example of “responsibility” and what Collin called ‘Honor” I have taught them that you have fight for your relationship and work through the hard times. I taught them that men don’t run, they stay and fight for their families. Which is true a lot of the time, even most of the time. Just not all the time.
If you are staying in a bad relationship or a unhealthy relationship then the honorable thing may be to leave with grace. If the reasons you are staying are no longer centered in love and caring for each other, but are now driven by a desire not to hurt someone or out of guilt – leaving becomes the healthy thing to do.
The degree of responsibility increases dramatically with marriage and kids, so in the early relationships that do not work its important to act quickly.
You can’t find romantic relationships through guilt, guilt is no aphrodisiac. Guilt is often the unhealthy -having you stay with an abusive partner or a dangerous person. Guilt can sacrifice your personal happiness for the pretend happiness of doing no harm.
Damage people often fight dirty, find guilt in your pass actions, threaten harm to themselves and others. Damaged people can make you feel very guilty and ashamed.
In relationships you will find yourself with damaged people, who’s weaknesses sometimes don’t appear till under stress. In these new relationships its important to understand that being honorable doesn’t mean you ignore all the stop signs and stay with unhealthy people. Its being truthful in your emotions, and honestly saying what you believe. Sometimes the most honorable thing to say is “this isn’t working for me” or ” I don’t love you” or ” I don’t want the same things you want”.
Honor is complex, its not always being the nurturer or protector, sometimes its being the person brave enough to say its over. Accepting that life isn’t about being seen as being the nice guy to others, living with honor is living your life truthfully and fully.
Speak honestly, kindly and directly- the rest will take care of itself and you will find true honor.