Day 289

Jeremiah 28:1-29:32; 1 Timothy 1:1-20; Psalm 86:1-17; Proverbs 25:17

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

A woman told her husband, “You don’t look at me and you don’t love me anymore.” He quickly shot back, “How can I look at you and still love you?” Okay, that doesn’t seem too nice; however, there is an underlying principle at play here that, when understood, helps keep relationships from getting to this point.

The simple principle is: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” We all need space. Have you ever noticed in relationships that the closer you try to become the harder it sometimes becomes? Why? Because often we are not giving enough space to the other person—we start to control them by our presence.

The Proverbs point this out:

Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—too much of you, and they will hate you. – Proverbs 25:17

Overstaying one’s welcome in any relationship can cause harm. I believe that one reason my marriage works is because my wife and I give each other space. Funny thing is, I have to love her enough to do so. Indeed, we have grown together, not apart. After 29 years, we still give each other space.

This is true among friends, love interests, family, co-workers, and yes…even neighbors.

So, here is the key: Give each other space and you will appreciate one another all the more. Let relationships develop gradually, and then nurture them. Few of us can live under the microscope of constant attention (and eventual scrutiny). Do this, and close relationships can flourish, and you can grow together rather than apart.

Jan Puterbaugh
LifePoint Christian Church
Longwood, FL