"We used to talk about everything"
                                                        By Dr. Les & Leslie Parrott

Now we can�t talk about anything. What happened?
Such were the confessions... Les, a psychologist, and his wife Leslie, a marriage and family therapist, heard regularly from discouraged clients. After helping numerous people work through unhealthy relationships, the couple became convinced that if they only could reach their clients earlier they could save them a great deal of heartache.
In the autumn of 1992, Les and Leslie Parrot, faculty members at Seattle Pacific University, created an elective course called "Relationships" and listed it in the course catalog. The course was to be an informal group with voluntary attendance, where students could be present or drop out at any time. Their determination to start such a class was met with raised eyebrows by those who didn�t consider relationships a scholarly subject or a serious part of university curricula. Nevertheless, the course was offered.
After the first day of registration, the Parrotts received a call from the registrar�s office informing them that their classroom had to be moved to an auditorium where they were forced to limit enrollment to 225 students. "That spoke volumes to us about the hunger this generation has for good solid relationship skills," Les Parrot says. The couple has been teaching the course, the largest on their campus, ever since.
In an In Touch interview, they shared their collective wisdom:
How do you find the "one" who is your soul mate?
Les: "Well, our answer isn�t always the answer that people want to hear. Let me answer it in two parts. You remember the old song You Gotta Shop Around? I think there�s some truth in that. You�ve got to have a shopping list that starts with some core values. In our class we often talk about 100 questions that you should be asking of another person when you�re dating them in order to find out if they are worth pursuing.
"But more importantly than that, knowing what you want has to do with becoming the kind of person that you would like to attract. It�s amazing�when you start to work on the qualities that you�d like to find in somebody else, that person out there someplace begins to find you.
"A relationship can only be as healthy as its least healthy part. We really try to help people focus on becoming whole, healthy, and complete in Christ. When you start to work on those issues, other things start to fall into place."
Suppose you�re dating someone and sparks are flying. How do you know if it�s true love?
Les: "Most love relationships begin with only one part of love�passion. Emmerson once said, �Passion, though a bad regulator, is a good spring.� In other words, passion is very good at getting love going but it�s not very good at keeping love going. This kind of passion or infatuation that begins a relationship is not the best barometer to determine whether you�re in a relationship that can evolve into life-long love.
"Love is something that ebbs and flows. It has seasons, it changes, and it has different ingredients. Passion is only one of three essential ingredients to love. It�s the biological side of love. Another ingredient is intimacy, the emotional side of love. That�s the part that builds a connection between two people because they have things in common, speak the same language, and understand one another. The third ingredient is commitment, the willful side of love. It�s the side of love that truly is a decision. That�s such an important part of love because sometimes the passion and intimacy aren�t very strong. Love survives on commitment in those times."
Some people seem to attract "the wrong person." How do we prevent making the same mistakes over and over again?
Les: "One of the reasons people are drawn to a type that is self-defeating or a person that ultimately sabotages their relationship is that they have not taken a good, serious look at themselves. There�s something about them that is being drawn toward another person, maybe some wounds that they�ve suffered earlier in their life. Maybe they were in a painful relationship with mom and dad or somebody else that was important to them. So they�re looking for a chance to do it right this time. They want to heal that wound. Well, that�s the wrong way to find healing because there�s a reason that person continues to hurt them and it�s not their problem. Part of being a healthy person is being aware. In fact, we often say to students, �awareness is curative.� It�s enough to help you begin to transcend that problem."
Is it important for two people to come from the same socioeconomic background?
Les: "I can say this: the more we have in common with our soul mate the easier love and life is. You�re never going to find anybody that matches you totally. Life would be boring if you did. But, that�s not even a risk. We�re always going to have differences from other people.
"There�s a misnomer that says opposites attract. Opposites don�t attract. People that are similar attract. When they�re together long enough they realize they have some real differences. He�s a night person and she�s a morning person, or whatever, so it feels like they�re opposites. Well, the truth is they have far more in common then they have things that are opposing."
When are you expected to say I love you?
Les: "When your heart tells you to. There�s no mechanical answer to that or three easy steps to it. That�s one of the mysteries and one of the great things about love. You listen to your heart."
When does the relationship go to the next level?
Les: "Well, it�s a mutual decision so there�s no timeline for sure. It�s when two people both decide the relationship is important and they want to pursue it."
Why don�t guys like to talk?
Les: "First of all I think that is a stereotype. In dating relationships guys do want to talk more than they do when they�re married. We know this from research. That�s why you get these couples in the first year of marriage saying, �What happened?�"
"The single goal (we�re painting with big brush strokes here) for a woman in a conversation is to build rapport with the person that she�s talking to. When it comes to men, the goal in conversation is not to build rapport, it�s to get the report. They want to be in the know. That�s why when a husband comes home usually the first thing out of his mouth is, �What�s for dinner? Who called? Did you get the mail? Give me the report.�"
Why do people today seem so afraid of relationships?
Les: "These days this generation has seen so many examples of bad relationships, bad marriages and they don�t want that to happen to them. I think that there�s also a lack of skills. We just don�t teach people about relationships.
"If you try to build intimacy with somebody else before you�ve done the hard work of becoming whole on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself. If you understand that ultimately your compulsion for completion is met in a relationship with Christ, these earthly relationships become so much easier."
What do we do with our unmet expectations?
Leslie: "One of the things that we notice in relationships is that people tend to go through phases. At the beginning, we tend to idealize the person that we�re in the relationship with. As some of that idealizing wears off and we begin to see some of the flaws in the person we�re dating we tend to go through another phase we call "monsterizing" that person.
Suddenly just like their good qualities were larger than life, so are their bad qualities. It takes some time and maturity to hang in there with a relationship long enough so that you understand who the real person is and not project on to them out of your past experiences and your own fantasies about who this person could be."
Some older singles are reluctant to invest in things married people have, like buying a house for example. How long should they wait to pursue those things?
Leslie: "What they�re really saying is, �the more I clearly define myself, the more narrow are my options for a relationship because I�m making so many commitments in my life.� His or her dream was to share that with someone else, so going forward with buying a house, for instance, is a sad thing because it symbolizes the dream didn�t come true.
"That�s a hard question. I would say, whole people attract whole and healthy people. Well-defined people attract the healthiest people. You can keep a space open for a healthy relationship without putting your life on hold. There�s such a quality of joy and aliveness in people who are pursuing the things they love and care about.
"I know women are afraid to do that. I see that all the time�afraid to define themselves so clearly or make commitments that would exclude certain men or would say to somebody, �I�ve got all I need on my own.�
"And yet I think it�s paradoxical. People are really drawn to someone who knows themself well and throws their energy into being that person."
Since they started their course on relationships nearly a decade ago, the Parrotts have authored numerous books, appeared on many national television and radio programs and established the Center for Relationship Development, a ministry dedicated to building successful relationships and solid marriages.

                       �2000 Dr�s Les & Leslie Parrot � Marriage & Family Therapist
So remember... Forgive always...   We need to make a way for understanding to work within us... for us.  Without this... we are doomed.  There are thousands of counselors in our society today.  There are millions of resources, yet it won't do any good if you don't make the choice to do something about it.  The help is available.  Do you want it?  Let me know.  I'll do my best to connect you with good help.

Thank you!
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