CR spoke with Marion Meyers

Marion Meyers
Marion Meyers

Life is all about relationships, yet many of us continue to get them so wrong. Good relationships do not come naturally, nor do they happen by accident. The ABC's of Relationships gives the perfect prescription for developing good, productive and permanent relationships. Rebecca Duffett spoke with author Marion Meyers.

Rebecca: What type of relationships are you talking about in your book?

Marion: It's a massive subject. From the minute we are conceived to the time we graduate to Heaven one day, we are in relationships and it's not a choice. The only real choice we have is whether we are going to have great relationships or failing and poor relationships.

The book is about three different kinds of relationships. One is a vertical one with our Heavenly Father. That is an essential relationship. I would say that it is the easiest of the three different kinds because God is always the same, he always loves, his love is always unconditional and he never changes. The second kind of relationship is with us. We like ourselves, we get angry with ourselves and frustrated and we don't want to forgive ourselves, so that's a huge topic; how to build a positive relationship with you, care for yourself and look after yourself. The third is the obvious one, which is a relationship with other people. The second two types are the more difficult and complicated. They can be fraught with hurt and anger, bitterness and guilt; obviously all the good stuff as well. I've had to put both sides of relationships in there so the positive difficulties as well as how you have fabulous friendships for example.

Rebecca: What's the most important thing to remember when you are looking at relationships? Can you sum up something of that from your book?

Marion: Oh my goodness. Well, I did a funny chapter called the Twelve Top Tips.

It's learning how to navigate relationships with ABC's with 26 different letters of the alphabet, so each subject/topic isn't that incredibly in depth, it's just an overview. F is on friendships, A is on attitude and B is on boundary. The ABC's imply that it's just some of the beginning steps.

The other side of that is that for every letter of the alphabet starting from A all the way to Z there is a different aspect or issue that we face in relationships. Like I said, B is for boundaries, C is for communication skills and D is disconnecting with people, when we need to do that. There is no one key truth or one top piece of wisdom; there are 12.

It's hard to give an absolute sum up of everything that's in the book. I guess if relationships were that easy we would be getting them right all the time; we wouldn't have the relational meltdown that we have around us.

Building Productive And Permanent Relationships

We have another motive behind the book, which is relational meltdown as there are more and more marriages breaking down. There are insecure people marrying insecure people and it's an epidemic. There are hurting broken people and families are breaking down all the time.

We study for a long time at school, and then at college and then university, yet that is not the most important part of our life. The most important part is obviously your relationships and who teaches you boundaries for example. I had one lady say to me that she'd gone through a broken marriage and was into her second marriage and discovered boundaries and said, 'Why has it taken me all my life to find and figure this out, to find out about this?' I was able to encourage her. I said, 'Well at least you've found out about it now' and I know it helped her tremendously. It really was a turning point in her life, just discovering some key truths about her relationships and about herself.

It is something that I'm really passionate about. The book is based on the word of God. I use the wisdom that I believe has been around for centuries; just basic solid simple but profound wisdom that's already in the Bible. A lot of the chapters have key scriptures that are in there that people can actually take hold of and meditate on, because I still believe the Bible is the best book ever written and the best handbook on human behaviour. I believe God is the creator. Most people will agree that God created us and when we break he knows how to fix us.

I see so many people and they're perishing for their lack of knowledge. They're struggling and hurting. If they would just take hold of some of the wisdom that is already in the Bible and understand some basic truths, then they would come through and they wouldn't be hurting and so broken.

Rebecca: If you don't have a foundation in God where do you start with finding your way around this subject of relationships?

Marion: Ahh Rebecca, I sometimes wonder how! I mean this life is such a rough life and you just have to have lived a little to know that bad stuff happens and you don't have to be a good person or a bad person to have bad stuff happen; you just have to be a human being. Life is really hard to navigate.

Some of us grow up in homes that are really destructive and abusive. Then we get to teenage years and the onslaught of everything that comes with that. We are already hurting and broken and we compound our problems with bad relationships, so there's more breakdown. Perhaps a marriage breaks down or other family relationships or friendships and we just end up hurting a lot of the way. I often wonder how people navigate without God in their life, because I guess that's been the journey of my life from the age of 15 when I became a Christian.

I do not believe in being complicated. I believe a lot of the truths are simple. God is in the Bible and the message of the gospel that God loves us, cares for us, wants to help us, wants to bless us and wants to be in our lives. It's a simple message. If anybody is really struggling, I would simply say that there is a God and he wants to help them in day to day problems. It's not high fluted religiosity; a religion that's a format without any real relationship with God. I base it on the greatest commandment that the Bible speaks about; love the Lord your God with all your heart then love your neighbour as yourself.

I guess you can still find simple truths in the book and Gods' truth and use it even outside of God; just apply simple techniques. The book is full of points like listening techniques and how to improve those and how to improve your boundaries.

Building Productive And Permanent Relationships

We have this funny little saying, 'You can live your whole life in a garage, but you're not going to come out car'. In other words you can live your whole life in church and you're still not going to become a Christian, because again it's not about duty, it's about relationship.

I talk in the P chapter about prioritising prayer and how to pray for your family. Some of the chapters are obviously very specific like that, spiritual truths that we can apply to our relationships. There are others like fabulous friendships where I put in well known quotes not just from the Bible, but from famous people as well. I speak about humour in the H chapter. I have a go a little bit at Christians because sometimes we take life and ourselves too seriously and sometimes we need to lighten up and add a lot more fun and play into our relationships.

Rebecca: How do you have a relationship with yourself?

Marion: I did psychology at university in my degree, so I understand psychology. Even psychologists agree that your relationship with other people is very much rooted in how you feel about yourself. If you do not like yourself, then it comes out in so many different ways. It comes out and people will not necessarily like you if you don't like you. If you've got all these facades; putting this persona on, which you think other people want you to be, or you hide behind because you're too scared to be who you really are in case people don't like you, in case they don't approve, then you almost can't get on with other people until you really learn to find out who you are and how to look after you and how to like you.

There's a serenity prayer that says, 'Lord give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change'. In other words it's the peace to just accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. With relationships and with ourselves it's very similar. There's some stuff we're not going to change about ourselves like our height, physical appearance and certain personality parts of us or temperaments that we've got that we get born with. That's definitely our nature that we're not going to change. We need to learn to accept who we are; accept that you're not as outgoing as you wanted to be or you're too outgoing.

Then there are other parts where we have to have the courage to change those things. We can't have the attitude, well this is how I am and if you don't like it, lump it or leave it. We have to be prepared to adjust. The Bible speaks about that word adjust and compromise with each other. A lot of that stuff that we need to change in us is probably rooted in a lot of hurt in the past. Maybe they had parents and these parents tried their best but they never got affirmation, they never got affection, love or praise. Maybe they are seriously lacking in self confidence and self esteem. That can cause someone to be quite introverted and shy and never able to speak out or say what they feel. As they grow in their faith or if they get more self confident and they start to like who they are, then that shyness that's put on them, that sort of introvertedness, you can actually find some people become quite outgoing. They don't need to hide because they start to like people and like themselves.

Rebecca: What are the most common places that we fall short in relationships?

Marion: It's an attitude to want to grow; to be humble enough to say that I'm not perfect. The issues in my life that I've been dragging around for a long time I need to get rid of them. Also acknowledging that I don't have it altogether and I can change. It is possible and I want to. The willingness to say that all of my relationships are not perfect and I realise I'm in them and even though I can't change anyone else, I can change. I can change me, so that even though you might not change and I cannot force you to change and treat me better, I can change me so that I have better boundaries in place so that it doesn't hurt so much.

It's also important to keep learning. I love books because they grow and challenge us; they help and counsel us. It's a willingness to read up more and to understand more about who you are and your relationships. I think that would be the top thing to help your relationships, to make a difference in the weeks and the months and the years ahead of you.

You can buy The ABC's of Relationships from Cross Rhythms Direct for only 9.49CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.