Life is mostly about relationship. And how we conduct ourselves in our relationships pretty much defines our character. We grow in character by learning to love rightly. That takes considerable, committed effort. But the payoffs are immense. Unfortunately, in our character impaired times, too few among us are willing to pay the price. The story I share below exemplifies what can happen two people put love and growth ahead of self-interest. (As always, key aspects of the story have been deliberately distorted to preserve anonymity.)
A Tale of Growth
Jane and Mark had known each other since high school. They weren’t really high school sweethearts. They both dated other people back in those days. But they knew each other fairly well and re-connected in college. And somehow there was instant chemistry between them. In fact, they fell so hard for each other they hardly knew what hit them. And they tied the knot after only a brief engagement. Each just knew they’d found their true soulmate, so they couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their life together.
Neither Mark nor Jane expected to get pregnant when they did. And it really threw them for a loop. Mark hadn’t finished business school and Jane had just completed the prerequisites she needed to pursue her nursing degree. Times got pretty tough and pretty quickly. And that’s when the all the arguments and hard feelings began. Jane felt Mark put his career ambitions and good times with his college buddies first. She and the family they had started always came second. Would he ever grow up? She had her doubts. And Mark couldn’t understand why the person who once could never get enough of him wouldn’t get close. He hated the distance. But it only got worse after the baby came.
Mark came home late for the fourth time in a week. And he again to pick up a few needed things from the store. Mark had stopped at the bar after work again to meet his buddies. And he was three sheets to the wind when So Jane issued an ultimatum. He would grow up or she would have to take some steps she never wanted to take.
Jane really didn’t want to divorce. And Mark didn’t want to lose the only person he’d ever cared for so much. So, instead of lashing back and blaming, he swallowed his pride and got busy. He got busy on himself. And he didn’t grandstand about it. Nor did he waste a lot of time with profuse apologies. His actions reflected his remorse.
Happy Reflections on Growth
Mark and Jane celebrated 25 years together with a long-planned trip to Hawaii. And one day on the beach they reminisced about the early days. They knew they’d both made mistakes. And they admitted them, not only to themselves but also to one another. They also knew their commitment made all the difference. It saved their marriage and helped them grow. They were different people, and for the better. Love and commitment made that possible.
This story ended happily. Unfortunately, all to many relationship stories these days don’t. Next week I’ll presenting another story. Sadly, you’ll find an example of what can happen when pride and a lack of caring stunt character growth and doom a relationship.
Character Matters may or may not air live Sunday June 11 at 7 pm EDT. So, I’ll announce at the beginning of the program if I can take calls at (501) 258-8326.