Before your relationships with another can truly benefit yourself or others, you should practice the principles shown in "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds" and live "The Daily Walk." Of course, faulty relations and the consequences that result, are a source of lessons, but one should always strive to be a good influence rather than bad. So the first step towards good relations with others is to enlighten and improve yourself.
Perhaps the most important principle in relations with others is that of acceptance. That important spiritual principle applies doubly in regard to relations with others, and it manifests itself in a variety of ways.
It is important that a person meet another on their own level. This is to accept the other person for who they are. It is important to identify the other person, to know who they are, by way of watching their actions. Do their actions reflect their words? Are they open and honest? What is their level of spiritual growth?
The answer to these questions can only be discovered after a period of time for the relationship to develop. One cannot know another simply by their words. One can know only what another says by their words. It will take a period of time to know another person's abilities and mannerisms. It will take a while to know their soul.
Acceptance tells us further to accept this person just as they are. This means that we are not required to "save them" from themselves. We should not begin to preach or attempt to control another person's actions. And we are certainly discouraged from attempting to control their thoughts. The temptation to control another's thoughts or actions is simply a feeble attempt to manage our own fears. It is an attempt to "protect" ourselves by changing our "outer world." Remember that the appropriate behavior is to first understand our "inner world."
We will find that the method to influence another is strictly by example. We do not preach. We do not promote our beliefs. A forced influence is no influence at all. Or worse, a forced influence may cause another to rebel and send them the other way. But we should always place ourselves in a position to help others, and much of this is by spreading the happiness that our way of life affords us. We will want to share our experience and wisdom, as it benefits another. The way to do this is by living our lives well. Our happiness will show, and our words will be respected. When asked for our advice or opinions, we are glad to share them.
The most intimate form of relationship is that between a man and a woman. All of the lessons we have learned should be applied most delicately in this most important union. Promises should never be made until one is certain that they can keep their promises. When a romantic union is damaged, it is never the end of the relationship where the problem lies. The problems are found in the beginning. So never make a promise until you have already found within you the things that you promise are already true. Then apply all the principles you have learned in this text, and truly, in your entire life. Study carefully the ideas presented in "The Daily Walk," and live them. Cherish your mate, or do not take your mate.
There are some seemingly small mistakes that can be made in close relationships, and that can have the result of creating large disturbances. The first is a failure of emotional intimacy, which is caused by a lack of effective communication. Two people can speak often and at length with each other, and still fail to communicate. For a communication to be complete, requires a speaker to honestly and completely tell their thoughts and feelings. And just as important, communication is not complete unless the listener has heard and understood the speaker's message.
To obtain this goal, two should practice the art of communication. Each spouse should avail undivided attention when discussing important issues. How can the listener tell what issues are important? If one spouse feels an issue is important to them, then the issue is important to the relationship. The concerned spouse should inform the other of the importance of their thoughts, and the two should set aside time to discuss it. Until this process is mastered, it is good to set aside some time each week to talk.
Further, when hearing someone speak, the listener should, when possible, repeat what has been said. This does not mean that they should recite each phrase. Rather, the listener should try to understand the meaning of the words spoken, and then repeat back what they understand. This way, the speaker can be sure that their message has been understood. If the message wasn't understood, then it can be restated and clarified.
Do not make large concerns of small issues. If you feel that something is important to you, make sure that it isn't something that you should deal with alone. For example, if your problem is that of jealousy, is this really something that your spouse can correct? Are you concerned with specific behaviors from your spouse? Or are you troubled by inner feelings? These kinds of problems may be caused by issues within you and can only solved within you. You could then only admit the feelings, and not expect your spouse to solve them. If your spouse consistently leaves you alone, and goes to visit friends all night, then you may have a large concern. But if they simply told you once of a fond memory, then you probably don't.
Avoid innuendoes and brief emotionally-charged remarks. If there is something you feel, if there is something that you would wish to say, then do so. Take a moment to set aside time to discuss your feelings properly. This will ensure that your message is understood and you will feel better for having done so. And you give your spouse the respect of having entrusted to them a part of your heart. That is the biggest charge of the marriage contract. It is to give each other your hearts and your emotional intimacy. Do not fail to completely do so. Do not leave your spouse uninformed, giving instead only your quick innuendoes.
Another mistake that is fatal to many relationships, is that of divided focus. When one or both in a relationship feel a lack of intimacy, they may begin to focus on things other than their spouse. The failure to gain intimacy can be caused by many things, and it may very well be your own fault. But whether it is your spouse's fault or your own, you will always desire intimacy, and if you do not find it in your marriage then you will look for it somewhere else. Remember that you love what you fix your focus upon.
This is not to imply that you should have a single focus, thinking only about your relationship and your spouse. That would be as much a mistake as to fail to have any focus at all. There is a time and place for all good things, a time to think about your work, and time to think about play. You should plan for your future and you should live for today. But if you have made the marriage contract, you have promised that this emotional relationship is the single largest focus of your emotional life. So if you have chosen well, and if you have made a promise that you can keep, then this relationship must be the most important one in your life. Your attention should be more focused on this relationship than on any other.
In a healthy soul, only one focus can be placed higher than that on the relationship with a spouse, and that is on the relationship to God. So make certain that you give appropriate energy to maintain emotional closeness. As much as possible, think only about things that can improve your intimacy with your spouse. Avoid thinking about other possibilities and avoid fantasies about other emotional bonds. Cherish your mate, or do not take your mate.
You are specifically prohibited from attempting to emotionally or physically trap another. This bad behavior is to try to force another to maintain a relationship instead of being someone that is a joy to be with. That is a result of fear, and is not love. There are many ways to place an emotional cage around a spouse: by using financial methods, by intimidation and threats, or by manipulation and attempts to make a partner feel guilty. All emotional, spiritual, intellectual or physical cages are prohibited.
When you make a promise to your spouse, it is your promise. This is the only promise that you are to consider. It is not your responsibility to hold them in judgment for the promise they have made to you. What you must do, in your relationship, is to love your spouse and to treat them only kindly. You are to act only with love. In this manner, you are creating the best possible environment for your love to continue to grow. You are continuing to be an attractive mate for your spouse. You are being someone that is a joy to be with.
Remember always, that it is fear that motivates the "cage builder," and not love. You are to always give your spouse freedom, and to keep your own promise. What they choose to do with this is up to them. If you have chosen your mate well, you will have no trouble keeping your promise and they will also love you and maintain their promise. So do not fear, because if you have chosen well, then your love will be effortless and your relationship will be happy.
And even if you have chosen poorly, then the relationship will fail, but this will free you to find another where mutual promises may succeed. This does not mean that you should allow yourself to fail. This also does not mean that you should allow your mate to continually fail. What this does mean is that you should accept your situation as it is at this moment. If you have made a mistake and taken a mate who cannot maintain their commitment to you, then peacefully let them free. Do not attempt to cage them. Love them by allowing them this mistake, and God will heal you and provide another, truer, mate.
Likewise, if you have made a bad choice and find that you cannot keep your contract, then make this liability known. You should be prepared to pay consequences for your broken contract, but you will allow your other to heal and find the right mate. You must then learn to never do this again. Do not take this step lightly, and do not expect to avoid your consequences. And learn not to make a promise until you are sure it is one you can keep.
You are also prohibited from allowing another to cage you. Like the person who fearfully traps another, the one who accepts such a situation is also motivated by fear. A person who allows themselves to become trapped is often tempted to feel that they are victimized and that the world "just isn't fair." Sometimes they seem to act with virtue and sometimes act as martyrs. But the truth is that a person who allows themself to be caged is simply afraid of facing the world and taking responsibility for their actions. They want someone else to be responsible and they want someone else to take care of them. Sometimes they are just afraid that their "right mate" will not come into their lives, so they allow a wrong mate to bond with them.
Remember that God will show you only if you seek. This demands action, and some courage. You should never allow another to trap you, and you should instead stand on your own. While you live your life, you will meet many people. Trust that God will show to you your perfect mate when you seek them, and you cannot possibly find them when you lock yourself away with another. Remember too, that it is impossible for another to trap you. In their cage, you stay willingly.
The one thing we can really do, in all relationships, is to learn from them. In each other, we will learn many things. If the relationship is an edifying one, we may learn directly from the other's words and actions. We may be comforted by their friendship or love. We may grow from their intellect or wisdom.
Or we may find that we learn how to handle a bad situation. We may learn things that we "don't want to do." At the very least, we will learn how to handle unacceptable behavior - not by changing the other person - but by removing ourselves from them. While this may prove necessary, it is a huge loss for the other person. It takes from them the benefit of our presence.