Keep Your Love On! Is A Practical Guide To Building Healthy Relationships
Rough Start But Refusing To Give Up
“ ‘Do whatever you can to stop these two human beings from being in the same house together!’”
That was the advice a psychologist wrote on a post-it note to a couple looking to get married.
But the pastor meeting with the couple just happened to forget to mention it. And so, completely oblivious, they got married…
Twelve years later, this couple sat down with the pastor and discovered this mistake.
It explained A LOT! Their first decade of marriage had been “hell” (in their words) as they struggled to have a happy, healthy relationship.
Most couples would have called it quits. But they didn’t. They kept trying.
(And trying. And trying).
And now Danny and Sheri Silk have been happily married for over 30 years in a relationship that is fulfilling, beautiful and strong.
How To Build Long-Lasting, Healthy Relationships
Danny Silk’s book, Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries, is all about how to build and keep strong relationships with the people around you.
He writes, “A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice.
This choice must be based on who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals.”
Basically, the author lays out the argument that in order to have healthy relationships, we need to be powerful people who are always intentionally loving others.
Silk writes not only from his personal experience, but he’s also on the Senior Leadership Team of both Bethel Church in Redding, CA and Jesus Culture in Sacramento, CA. He’s an author and speaker, as well as the President and Co-Founder of Loving on Purpose, a ministry to families and communities around the world.
Why “Trying” Is So Powerless
To be honest, I found it a challenging read. Because I saw myself everywhere in the pages…
In some areas, I could see how I’ve become a more powerful person and how that has enabled me to develop healthier relationships. But I also identified a lot of ways that I was breaking my connections with the people around me by acting powerless.
Like when Silk talks about how using the phrase, “I’ll try” is about as powerless as it gets.
He uses the example of saying “I’ll try” during your wedding vows instead of saying “I do”. The idea is funny and to the point.
If we say we’ll try, then it means we have no confidence in our ability to actually do the thing we said we would do.
As the wise Yoda says, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
It was humbling and enlightening.
Waiting For Breakthrough
To give you a bit of context about my own story, I struggled for many years with depression and anxiety. For me, it wasn’t a biological issue though. It was because of some painful relationships at an early age.
And as a pre-teen and then teenager, I simply didn’t have the skills to cope with the hurt or the broken relationships. So I suppressed everything (can see where this is going??).
This lead to a number of years where I struggled to have any kind of healthy relationships.
But deep down, even during those difficult years, I really wanted to break through my personal struggles so I could help others.
I didn’t want to stay stuck.
Now looking back, I can see how far I’ve come and my ability to have healthy relationships continues to grow.
Relationships (Really) Isn’t My Top Strength
Thing is, I used to hope that after I’d worked through enough of my personal issues, relationships would just magically come easily to me. I imagined myself as someone who would walk into a room and others would be naturally drawn to me because I would just intuitively know how to connect with people.
And so people would walk away feeling so inspired by being in conversation with me.
(I had a pretty big imagination as a child.)
Yep, I think a part of me still has that image in my mind. But it’s also weighted down by reality now.
You see, I recently took the CliftonStrengths test (used to be StrengthsFinder) and in my top five strengths, there was NOT one strength that was in the relationship category.
Nada. Zip. Zero.
And someone said to me after I shared my results, “Well, that explains a little why you find relationships so difficult.”
Now, I’m not someone who puts all my eggs in one basket so I take these kinds of tests with a grain of salt. I don’t like to be pigeon-holed.
Anyway, that’s a different rabbit hole…
How Fear Hijacks Connection
What stood out for me the most was when Silk talked about how fear hijacks connection. To be honest, I’ve been a pretty fearful person for a lot of my life. And it’s certainly caused a lot of harm to my relationships.
He says that “fear-based reactions cause most misunderstandings and hurt in relationships.”
On one hand, I can agree with that statement because, as I’ve experienced in my own life, as soon as fear rears its ugly little head, I’m nearly incapable of responding like the mature, sensible adult that I’m supposed to be.
And yet, I think this is a bit simplistic as I’ve also experienced many misunderstandings simply because two people are very different and don’t take the time to listen or understand. There’s not always fear involved, but sometimes just a plain ol’ lack of interest.
So when the fear monger does show up, what’s the remedy?
Overcoming Reactions And Responding Like An Adult
Simply put… “If you want to preserve relationships, then you must learn to respond instead of react to fear and pain,” says Silk.
Simple but not easy, eh?
He goes on to say, “In order to begin training yourself to respond in love, the first thing you need to accept is this truth: You cannot control other people.
The only person you can control—on a good day—is yourself.”
Hmm, makes me wonder… how many “good” days do I actually have??
Being Powerful Means Learning To Love – Always
The bottom line is that I’ve found this book to be a very timely read for where I’m at. The way Silk talks about powerful verses powerless people is refreshing and illuminating.
The word “powerful” is often avoided or even treated like the plague in Christian circles. As if being humble and meek means walking around defeated and miserable. And yet, we supposedly serve the one true God.
Near the end of the book, Silk tells the poignant story of a man who dies and goes to heaven where God asks him this one question: “ ‘Did you learn to love?’ ”
When I was twelve, near the beginning of the dark days of depression, I thought about what I wanted to be known for…
(I was a pretty intense kid.)
And I wanted to be known as someone who loved others well. I think this came from a desire because I felt so hungry for that kind of love.
So imagine if each one of us learned how to become powerful women who loved well.
No matter what.
Imagine how much we could change our worlds right where we’re at.
To me, that’s a dream worth pursuing. And if that sounds appealing to you, then I think you might like this book.
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