Ok. My apologies. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t stay away from jumping in with the tabloids and discussing Jon and Kate Gosselin. Before I go on, I want to make it crystal clear that I don’t know all the facts. I don’t read the tabloids and haven’t been closely following their relationship since their troubles began. In fact, while I enjoyed the early years of the show, I stopped watching it because of the way Kate and Jon interacted. I wasn’t surprised when the “news” about their rocky relationship hit mainstream America. So, why write about the Gosselins? Simple, because the rest of us can learn from their mistakes in the arena of leadership in marriages and relationships.
If you find yourself in a difficult relationship there are certain things that you can do to improve the outcome. Here is a short list based on my life experiences.
I would love it if Dr. Phil had Jon and Kate on his show. Now that I would watch, but perhaps not for the reason you think. I don’t care about what would come out on the show, but the one thing it would do is to reinforce the idea that couples shouldn’t go it alone. The one thing that I see missing in Jon and Kate’s relationship, is a willingness to get help. Too many couples are calling it quits before they do the hard work of – well, making it work. My wife Debbie and I are coming up on our 25th anniversary. That is an awesome accomplishment. Not because we love each other, but because we weathered the storms of life together for 25 years. If we had quit when times got tough… well, we wouldn’t be celebrating 25 years together. How did we weather the storm? By getting help when we needed it. Help can come from friends, family, counselors or a church family.
Help does not mean crying on someone’s shoulder or gossiping together. Help means having someone work with you to get you and your partner to sit down at the table and uncover the difficult issues that need to be addressed. Help means opening up to each other and to work on your weaknesses. It just grated on me when I heard Jon and Kate both say they would do anything for their children as they walked away from each other. Yeah right. It appears they would do anything for their children…. except sit down at the table with each other and work on their marriage. That is a huge BUT in the equation.
We Don’t Live A Reality Show Life
The one thing I’ve learned from the few “reality” shows I’ve watched, is that they are not reality. Do normal parents spend $20,000 on a their daughter’s 16th birthday? How about those elaborate weddings or fantasy world lifestyles that many of them portray. Reality? No. While life can be wonderful most of the time, reality can also be messy. Reality means dealing with life with integrity. I’ve blogged about people like Katie Kemple, real people who slug it out in the real world where jobs are hard to come by and times can be tough. I’ve also blogged about people facing health challenges or handicaps. What about those who gave their life for our country or the loved ones they left behind?
Jon and Kate seem to have bought into the idea that they live a reality show life. They can save their family, but will they? Kate can stop her traveling and speaking, Jon could stay closer to home. When the show began, they had a lot of support from the local community and I believe their church. Now? They have the support of millions of viewers who put millions of dollars in their pockets. But – they are no longer living reality. They are living a facade.
I was going to precede this section with asking for forgiveness, but decided to put this one first. Why? Because a leader can exhibit grace, even if someone doesn’t ask for it. That is what grace is all about. I am so thankful that my wife can exhibit grace towards me. I certainly need it. If she needed a reason to leave me over the past 25 years, I certainly gave her lots of them. I am not perfect. I can sometimes be hard to live with. I’ve made my share of mistakes. It is only by exhibiting grace to each other, that a relationship can flourish. If you are having difficulty with something your partner has done, you need to exhibit grace.
A difficult situation which Jon and Kate are facing is infidelity. I have several friends who I’ve known over the years who faced infidelity in their marriages. It doesn’t matter if it was the man or the woman… it can be either. Of these friends, many were able to work past these mistakes and are happily married today. Not all did though. In some cases, the person who strayed from their marriage wasn’t willing to work on getting back together. Sometimes the spouse could not forgive the other person for betraying them. While understandable, sometimes saving your marriage requires extending grace.
Asking for Forgiveness and Forgiving Yourself
As a leader, you need to learn to forgive yourself for your failures in your relationship. No one is perfect. Admit your shortcomings and work on overcoming them. Ask for forgiveness from your partner and make a sincere effort to change. The idea that people should accept us for who we are is true… to a certain extent. People should accept us, but we should be willing to change to overcome our weaknesses. It is a two way street. I have not seen Jon and Kate display this in their marriage.
While I could write more on relationships, I just just wanted to remind you leaders that relationships take work. Good relationships just don’t happen. Jon and Kate can save their marriage if they’re willing to do the work. Are you?
All the best!
All the time!