Posted by: Joe Palmer | January 20, 2010



By Joe Palmer

The story is told of an old farmer working his garden by the side of a road. One day a family with a U-Haul in tow stopped to speak to him. The father inquired, “Mr., we are thinking of moving to that town up the road a few miles. Could you tell us what the people are like who live there?” “Well,” the old farmer replied, “What were the people like where you moved from?” The father quickly responded, “Very nice, kind, and helpful. We had great neighbors, but we have to move.” The farmer said, “That is exactly the kind of folks you will find in that town up there mister.”

About two hours later a second family stopped, again pulling a U-Haul. “Hey old man,” the man driving asked, “What kind of folks live in that town up there? We are moving.” The old farmer responded the same as before, “What were the people like where you moved from?” The driver said, “Biggest bunch of hypocrites, grumps, and thoughtless people you will ever meet. I am so glad we are moving.” The farmer said, “You don’t want to move to that town then. The people there are exactly like the ones from your old town.” “Thanks for the warning,” the man responded, and they went on their way.

My father used to tell me, if you are having trouble getting along with people, then you need to look at yourself. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends, must himself be friendly.” Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  If you want to change your relationship, change yourself.

How do we change ourself?  If you want to transform your relationship there are three keys that must be used.

1. Focus on the positive traits that other people possess. Everyone has some good qualities. The problem is we focus on their annoying habits. We fume over their consistent failures. We begin to see them only in light of their liabilities. The biggest difference I have seen in couples post divorce, or in those heading toward divorce, is the focus on interpreting everything in a negative light. Remember, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

2. My contribution to the problem. Okay, your mate has some annoying qualities. Okay, you have put up with them for years. Take an honest look at yourself. What have others put up with from you? Where have you failed? How have you hurt your relationship?

3. What I can do to fix the problem. Now instead of looking and considering how you can get them to change, consider how you can change. One of the laws of relationship dynamics states, “When one party changes, it demands a change in the other party.” For example if you stop nagging, your mate has to react in some manner. If I refuse to get into our usual fight, or react in my usual manner, then my mate has to do something different. The relationship has changed.

None of these keys will work unless they are in the hand of someone who loves. When asked to summarize the law, Jesus put love # 1 and # 2. (Matt. 22:37) Jesus also said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)  We are even told to love our enemies.  When a once good relationship goes bad it seems like we have become enemies.  If we decide to love and focus on the three keys our relationship will change.

Joe Palmer


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