When I was in high school, my father wanted me to be an engineer. He was accepted to the Stevens Institute of Technology, a premier engineering school. In spite of a full-ride scholarship, he chose not to attend.
I think he was vicariously living his engineering career through me. The only time he attended parent’s night was in my junior year. He met with my physics teacher who explained that by the end of the school year, we would be able to design a washing machine. I don’t know why he said a washing machine. We never did design one. The class did not come naturally to me.
Off to college I went, and it was not Stevens. In my junior year, I declared my major. Since my college did not have a social work major, I majored in sociology thinking it would roll over into a career in social work (you can tell no one was advising me).
Although I accidentally chose sociology as my major, perhaps it chose me. Early in my career, I enjoyed studying psychology. But as I have gotten older, I enjoy studying how groups work together. Psychology looks at the individual. Sociology looks at the relationship between two or more individuals.
When it comes to relationships, I’ve learned that “hurt people hurt people.” Someone who is broken will hurt someone who is also broken. I’ve added a few works to it to say, “hurt people are attracted to hurt people.” Let me explain.
I was at our women’s division, Dove’s Nest, discussing relationships and not being in an abusive one. A woman explained her boyfriend blackened her eyes and broke her nose. He held her while she cried. She stayed in the relationship because he held her. Puzzled, I looked at her and said, “He blackened your eyes and broke your nose and you stayed in the relationship because he held you while you cried. She looked at me with an “of course” look. I repeated the story one more time and got the same response from her. In the brokenness of her heart, she felt that she was only worthy of abusive relationships. As she progressed through Dove’s Nest, I saw the change in her.
This weekend we celebrate the ultimate relationship holiday, Valentine’s Day, the day we say to that special someone in our life if I had to, I would still choose you again. Here’s the catch:
The early stages of a relationship are driven by hormones. They take over and make us do and say things we normally wouldn’t do except that we have found the love of our life. I remember my first girlfriend loved John Denver (now I am dating myself). Guess who owned two John Denver records? Guess who threw them out after she broke up with me?
I believe you must have chemistry in a relationship. There has to be that physical attraction for the other person. But in my opinion, it is not number one. It is number two. The first thing you have to look for is character – that is the moral qualities of an individual.
Character involves being honest, having a pure heart, hardworking, trustworthy, putting the needs of others before their own needs (selfless) and family-oriented (if that’s what you are seeking).
I’ve seen too many people put chemistry first and character as a far distant trait. Then they wonder why this person is cheating on them or deceiving them about household finances. That happens because the character wasn’t there in the first place.
Have a crazy, fun Valentine’s Day. Remember, character first; chemistry second.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission.