“A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.” – Oscar Wilde
I stumbled across this while reading a book. Nope, I couldn’t read on as this quote puzzled me. My analytical mind couldn’t resist pondering on what seemed liked an absurd thought on first glance. Perhaps there is food for thought in it.
(As a woman, my writing will be based on a female’s perspective but nonetheless, I would imagine that these thoughts wouldn’t be much of a contradiction to a male’s perspective!)
We have close male friends and we have a special male friend… (okay I agree that not all of us have the latter but most of us long for that!). When it comes to our male friends, it doesn’t bother us when they flirt with other women and enjoy their company. However, when it comes to the one we love (or even perhaps like to have a relationship with), we may not mind them having female company but we have an invisible boundary set for them in our minds. A bit of an envious streak threads through as we do so. Of course there is a fine line bordering unhealthy jealousy.
Seeing our ‘man’ happy with another woman (even obviously platonic), while our relationship is having issues, really doesn’t sit well with us women. We begin to think that he doesn’t love us or perhaps he isn’t satisfied with us any more. Let’s turn the tables around for a moment. Do you find it easier to get on with your male friends or for that matter even with your female friends than with your partner? Yet, even if it is indeed tougher to get along with their special ones, females would still long for that very company. Why? The bond is stronger despite the toughness!
It is indeed easier to hang out with platonic friends and have a good time. We can reminisce on the good and positive memories and simply overlook the negative. Why? Our expectations from platonic friends are far less than from the one we love. The higher the expectations, the more the issues faced. Thus the quotation above does make sense to a certain degree. It explains why married people are ‘happy’ with friends of the opposite sex outside marriage. We tend to be less happy with the one we love, as we tend to want more and more from them, growing ever so unrealistic. How ironical that this happens with those we love! We find it easier to accept the other in just a friendship without a ‘commitment’.
Many people head into relationships expecting to change the other. Bright red lights surround them but they can only see ‘green’. Insecure men and women place many restrictions on their partners. On the other hand, insecure people ‘hide’ stuff from their partners. They fear that their partners wouldn’t accept it or that they would be jealous.
Jealousy is unhealthy. It reflects distrust and no relationship can function well without trust. (I’m not denying a healthy level of jealousy exists, where one wouldn’t want to lose the other…. but once again there is a fine line).
I have grown up with brothers and subsequently studied and worked in male dominant fields. Imagine if I have a boyfriend who is possessive and insecure – who asks me to have nothing to do with men! It breaks down the very essence of my personality. As much as I have my feminine side, I also have an analytical mind that wishes to learn and explore. On the other hand if someone sincerely loves me, they will trust me that I know my boundaries and that I am one who loves others with the love of God whether they are children or youth or middle age or elderly, men or women.
If the relationship is healthy, partners will be able to express their preferences but yet not request change from the other. Loving one another for who they are is tough. Yet that is what real love is all about. Just like you are your own person with your own interests and likes, so is the other. Hasn’t God wired each one to be the way they are? Do we think God doesn’t know what He is doing with each one? Are we able to love allowing the other to live the way they want to which is most likely the way God has wired them to be? When one part of the personality is quenched, subconsciously the other aspects begin to deteriorate since our body, soul and spirit are all inter-twined. Suppression of one part affects all.
As people grow in love, they become open with each other and compromise where it matters without changing one’s personality, takes place. It is not expected nor is it forced, but it happens willfully and joyously. True love conquers fear. We can just be ourselves where there is sincere love. Judging based on appearances is replaced with loving based on understanding.
This kind of love isn’t easy but it is possible to a large extent. It can’t happen by human effort alone. We love because God loves us. Our security is found in Him. God is our foundation. The more we try to find security in others especially in the one we love, the more we are setting ourselves up for trouble and we actually chase them away too. We expect too much from the one we love – and honestly speaking our expectations are unrealistic.
“Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
As followers of Christ, we can love as the love of God flows in us and through us. We will never be perfect but we will love without giving up. Having experienced His love which entails grace and mercy as much as discipline and justice, we can extend that to others. Those of us who have known by experience that God gives us freewill and is patient with us, never forcing us to change can do the same to others.
We are slow to change. Identifying an issue is the first step but change doesn’t happen instantly. How dare we expect God to forgive us yet we want others to accelerate change in their lives? Let’s not have double standards.
We should love one another and accept them for they are. On the other hand, if we see someone in trouble or heading in the wrong direction we can’t remain quiet if we love sincerely. We alert and warn them, yet we can’t force change just as much as God doesn’t force change on us. Yet each will face consequences of their choices. Each person has been given human wisdom to varying degrees, and each of us have the option to lean on God, drawing on His Wisdom and leading. We are responsible for our own decisions all the while remembering that what we do doesn’t affect just us, but the body of Christ in its entirety.
We can be happy with the ones we love if God is our foundation.
Contentment with the other stems from knowing that we ourselves are not perfect,
that we are far from being perfect and it is only possible through God.