What It Means to Be An Equal Partner?
Uncommon Relationships: Experiencing the Seven Levels of Relationships – Part 8
“My breath is repulsive to my wife [Relationship Level 6].” – Job
As you know, these are the words of Job during his most difficult time in life. His relationship level six is a disaster. In his own words, “my breath is repulsive to my wife.” I hope you have never heard your spouse say these words. “I hate your guts.” That would be equivalent to what Job heard from his wife. What’s funny about this statement (if you can call it funny) is that these sentiments are more common than anyone cares to admit. For you who are reading this, I know I don’t have all the answers but I certainly have some insight to add, that can help combat such a feeling towards the one you pledged your life to.
Relationship Level 6 – Equal Partner
Level six relationships are probably the most misunderstood. This level should occur in marital relationships. Half the time or greater it doesn’t. This level brings two partners together to do what I call the business of life. They are equally equipped to help the other propel their lives forward to reach a fulfilled and purpose-filled existence.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” – bible.com/bible/116/1CO.12.12.NLT
Wouldn’t you agree that like the parts of the body, your spouse is a part of your life? But would you say that your spouse is just like other body parts? No, your spouse is unique. He/she can’t not be like another body part and therein lies one the biggest problem creators of the relationship levels.
The Thought or Concept:
Because this is the most misunderstood relationship level of them all, the goal of this web-post is to show that a spouse is not like any of the other levels, but rather builds upon the others. It is also unlike the last level as level seven is reserved for a non-human relationship. You’ll have to see our next installment for more on this. Back to relationship level six.
Relating to someone as an equal partner can be difficult. For one, you need to know that your spouse is your equal partner. Your spouse can’t be your superior neither can your spouse be your subordinate. In either case, the relationship is out of balance and whenever something is out of balance, it will try to balance. Therefore friction and resistance will become more increasing. Everyone wants to feel valued, but when you have an unbalanced relationship someone’s value is diminished. Let me show you some specifics as we define what relationship level six is and isn’t by using the previous levels as a guide.
- Your spouse is not your family, relationship level zero.
I know you thought your spouse was your family, that’s normal thinking. And it’s this type thinking that brings destruction to a relationship. Here’s why. You can’t get rid of family, but I’m afraid that’s not true with a spouse. In the same way you accept your family so should your spouse; it is what it is. However, a spouse can and in some cases will make you forsake your family. This is where the differences begin. While normal behavior wants us to believe a spouse is family, they’re not. Family is based on people you have no choice to accept. You don’t get to choose your family, but you have options when it comes to a spouse.
- Your spouse was your neighbor, relationship level one.
This is past-tense. Your spouse used to be, but is no longer your neighbor. What’s interesting here is that your spouse starts at this level. This is good to remember because it means that your spouse was once a person who lived without you. The two of you came together by way of being in proximity with each other. Then your relationship moves from level one and advances to the next level.
- Your spouse is your primary disciple, relationship level two.
While you’d never call someone above level two, your disciple or student, at some point in the past the two of you fell into this level two relationship with the other. Being a student simply means you enjoy learning from someone. Why wouldn’t you want a spouse you can learn from? Your spouse was once a person you didn’t mind learning from. Let me go here (to the left) for a minute. This is one of the first relationship level qualities that gets pushed away when you get to relationship level six. For some reason we begin to feel as if our spouse can no longer teach us anything. If you want a successful level six, don’t forget that level six is built upon the levels below it. When you lose the ability to be students to each other, level six begins to deteriorate around you.
Your spouse is your disciple because a disciple is someone who can learn from you. When you stop growing as a person then so does your relationship. It’s at this level that marriages begin to fall apart. One spouse needs the other to continue to mentor them as they grow and vice versa. When this doesn’t occur, one spouse will outpace the other and a chasm begins to form and begins to get wider and wider. Thus they grow apart unintentionally. You should be your spouse’s best student.
- Your spouse has surpassed your friends, relationship level three.
It is true that at some previous point in your relationship, you and your spouse were friends. The problem is, if you stayed there you would have never reached relationship level six. This is a major reason why equal partners are no longer friends, you’ve surpassed this role that others could easily have. How would you feel if any one your spouse called a friend could be considered a replacement for you? Level six is three levels above the friend level, therefore as an equal partner you’ve surpassed level three.
- Your spouse is not in your inner circle, relationship level four.
If you haven’t noticed for the majority of people, a female spouse has an inner circle filled with ladies and a male spouse has an inner circle filled with guys. This is one of the main reasons why you can’t be a part of your spouse’s inner circle. However, because you and your spouse are one, your thoughts by default influence your spouse’s inner circle by his/her presence. People often ask me, should my friends be my spouse’s friends and the answer based on the levels of relationships is mostly “no”, but can be “yes.” Think of it like this. Would your spouse choose friends like your friends? Most of us would respond “no” and that’s okay because you and your spouse are unique, then (more than likely) so are your inner circle of friends. The benefit of an inner circle of friends is to have several people who are close enough to share life and experiences together to enhance who you are and are becoming. In this way, you improve the people who come together in any relationship level beyond level four. Think of level four as the level that strengthens you for levels five through seven.
- Your spouse used to be your best friend, your closest friend, in relationship level five.
I hear people often say that their spouse is their best friend. In fact, it angers me when I hear such a phrase. This just isn’t the case. When your spouse moved to level six, he/she opened the door for the return of someone to the level five spot. Your spouse can not occupy level five and level six at the same time. The problem here is balance in the relationship levels, which simply means no one can occupy two levels at the same time. They can’t relate with you as a close friend and be an equal partner. Here’s a thought, if your spouse were your level five friend, they’d stick closer to you than a brother. We all know that married couples often divorce, separate, and have major issues that don’t occur in a level five relationship. These are things that just don’t occur between the closest of friends. My closest friend will be with me to obtain and help me strengthen the level six relationship I have. If I tell the truth, my level five friend will also help me find a replacement to level six if necessary. When you have level five right, that person will ensure to the best of their ability that your level six relationship is healthy and strong. This is another reason why you don’t want a spouse to occupy both relationship level slots five and six.
- Your spouse is your equal partner, your relationship level six.
Your equal partner is the only position where procreation occurs. One point of clarification. A person is able to reproduce at other levels, but it’s at level six where reproduction turns into procreation, produces others of the same brand, the business called your life.
Once your spouse reached relationship level six, relationship level five became vacant again. Relationship level six is the highest human relationship level a person has. It’s the level just under the one who sits on the throne of your life. Your spouse is your partner. This word sounds strange to use, but it’s the title God gave to the first couple. They were equal partners. When you see your spouse as your partner it says that you’re in business. What business is that? The business of running your lives, together. The business of running your lives together. You’re accountable for making your life whatever it is the two of you can make out of it. Your spouse is your partner in this effort in a way no other human-being can be or ever will be.
As you read this there were two thoughts that were revealed: 1) your spouse must advance through each level of the relationship levels and 2) your spouse can not be in two levels at any given time. Your spouse sits in the highest of the relationship levels and should not be lowered to any of the preceding.
Today is Friday!
When I first realized the importance of the relationship levels it revealed why so many relationships, especially marriages fail. It’s the lack of knowing how relationships at every level works and how each level is a building block for the next.
Question: Can you name a reason why your spouse is not your friend?