The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Fantasy

I know that many of you have read books or seen movies of the imagination. It’s nice and sometimes even healthy to let our minds wonder about things that are not real. The one thing we have to remember is they are not real and just make believe or fantasies.

There are many (men and women) who have been drawn away into the Cinderella fantasy of being the prince or princess. Men like movies that for a moment they can be Batman, Superman or William Wallace and women may fall into the heroine or damsel in distress. Sometimes they may even want to be Sheena or Electra.

Many of you would agree that when we can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality we are headed for trouble. I see this all too often and it’s not quite as rare as one may think. Many of our disappointments and discouragements come from reaching for a fantasy that doesn’t exist. This could also be noted as expectations such as, the perfect relationship, the perfect marriage, the perfect children or the perfect job. All of these have one major flaw and that is the word “perfect.” There is no such thing. It’s fantasy to believe this.

Over the years I have worked with many married couples who are struggling and on the verge of divorce. I have also learned which ones are most likely to fail. If one of the spouse’s have someone on the side (having an affair) it’s very rare that the marriage will survive. The reason is simple. The marriage cannot compete with fantasy.

First of all is the conflict of betrayal: If they stay with the spouse then they betray the other person and if they stay with the other person, they betray the spouse. The other person usually wins because they are the fantasy. They are the ones who are making them feel good, not to mention the sneaking around is quite exhilarating. Then one day they cut the spouse loose to go with the next person of their dreams. Then only to find out that once they marry them, they start revealing their baggage and problems and they quickly find themselves in the same ol’ rut they were in. Then both of them spend the marriage wondering when their new spouse is going to cheat on them. The question will always be… if they cheated on their last spouse with me, then they will probably cheat on me. If the second or third marriage is the answer to their dreams, then why are most of the couples at boot camp in their second or third marriage? The grass may look greener, but you still have to mow it.

People who remarry who don’t have children have a greater chance of success. What one needs to realize is that when you marry someone you not only marry them, but their children, ex-wife, ex-in-laws and friends. This is why second marriages rarely work out because they had enough going against them in the first marriage.

Suppose there wasn’t someone else on the side. I’ve seen this too. There wasn’t some particular person on the side. It was everyone on the side. They could not wait to get into the dating world again and experience the time of their youth when dating was new and exciting. How you did those neat things to make each other feel special. The phone calls and the little notes that sent them sky rocketing. This is why some never marry because once the relationship gets too serious and mature, then it’s time to find that new person to bring back those feelings again. Those who have experienced the “New Dating World” realize quickly that it’s tough.

This is where we find the real problem, “Feelings.” When someone uses their feelings as a roadmap to happiness, they will always be disappointed in the end. Feelings are constantly changing in us and we can’t depend on them because they are unstable and will mislead us. We have to look at the facts and live in the facts and the feelings will come along later. I have heard many very attractive women and men make the statement that they felt ugly. That wasn’t the fact…that was a feeling. Some have said they felt stupid, but were actually very intelligent. There have been many times I have had to believe the truth and wait for the feelings to come later and they did.

Believe me when I tell you I had to learn all this the hard way. No, I’ve never been divorced, but we were close several years ago. I have experienced those feelings in my past and that’s why I could describe them so accurately. We will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in August and it’s by the Grace of God I can say this. We’re still not out of the woods and we will never be as long as we’re alive. We have to keep working and be on our guard. I have to say I love my wife more today than when we first got married mostly because I’m just starting to learn what real love is. This article was not about finger pointing, but hopefully to bring an awareness to help you. Don’t fall for the fantasy!

Some have already made mistakes that have been advised or counseled by a friend or parent about the matter. They are already feeling bad and will run at the slightest noise. I never want to say I told you so. Whenever we say, “I told you so” it is a declaration that I was right and you were wrong and it is an evidence of pride. It’s also dangerous because you may fall under the same temptation. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 How they messed and why is not important. What’s important is that they have realized their error and want to try again. Consider the prodigal son. He realized his error and went home to beg forgiveness and was greeted with love and compassion, not guilt and shame.

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