One of my favorite scenes in “The African Queen” is just after Rose (Katharine Hepburn) and Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) navigate through a series of huge rapids in the heart of Africa. Once they reach a calm stretch, they realize their boat is dead in the water. Charlie swims underneath to inspect the damage.
Rose: Could you see anything, dear?
Charlie: Yeah. The shaft’s twisted like a corkscrew and there’s a blade gone off the prop.
Rose: We’ll have to mend it, then.
The year is 1914. They’re in the middle of the African continent. There is not another soul for hundreds of miles. No other boats. No stores. No repair shops. Just Rose & Charlie and the meager supplies on their broken boat.
And yet, her response is “We’ll have to mend it, then”. Charlie thinks it’s impossible, but Rose never doubts for a moment that Charlie has the skills necessary to make the repairs. They evaluate what they have to work with, and then they make a plan. In the end, they work together to repair the boat and continue on their journey. Rose believed in Charlie when Charlie didn’t believe in himself. Her belief made all the difference.
Relationships can be like that broken boat. Everything looks good on the surface, but we’re twisted and broken under the water where no one can see it. Life happens, disasters happen, misunderstandings happen — or we speak or act thoughtlessly — and our relationship screeches to a halt.
And then what happens? Nothing. We’re scared. We’re frustrated. We’re angry. We’re dejected. Basically we’re dead in the water, and there’s not a repair shop in sight. Sometimes we’re afraid to try to fix it. We might be rejected. We might be laughed at. We might fail. So we don’t try. We sit on a broken life, doing little more than the same things we’ve done every day, the same way we’ve always done them. It’s not much of a life, but you’re used to it.
What if you could improve the dynamics of your relationship?
It all comes down to this one question: Do you believe in your partner? More importantly, does your partner know – without a shadow of a doubt – that you believe in him and the potential within him? Let’s face it – if you don’t believe in him, in his goodness, in his love, in the opportunities within your relationship and your future together — you’re wasting everyone’s time. And if he doesn’t believe in you, he’s wasting your time.
It’s a funny thing, but I was the one in our relationship who listened to that little voice. I was afraid to try. I might be rejected. I might be laughed at. I might fail.
I came into our relationship with no clue of who I was or what I could become. But I was lucky enough to marry a man who believed in me — who could see past my doubts and find the potential inside me. Because of him, I am confident. Because of him, I have my dream job – running a bed & breakfast. Because of him, I feel loved and cherished every day.
And because he saw potential in me, I began seeing potential in him. He was confident in his job, so I started pointing out the little things about him that made him wonderful on a personal level. His kindness. His compassion. His strength of character. His absolute devotion to his family. His sense of humor. The simple joy he brought to my life every day.
Because Jim believed in me, I began believing in myself. Because Jim believed in me, I began to focus on what made him special. Because Jim believed in me, I could appreciate what a treasure my husband was, what a treasure my husband is, and I value every day with him.
The devil will always try to find ways to keep you from making your relationship work. He’ll break something between you and your partner, and then he’ll be that tiny voice in your head that tells you it can’t be fixed. That’s the devil’s job – to create unrest in our world – and he’s pretty good at it. Too many people simply surrender to that “you can’t fix it” voice, and they give up on a perfectly good partner… all because they don’t know how to uncover the potential in the other person.
Is your relationship broken? You don’t need money or a fancy house or a new car or an expensive vacation to make your relationship work. Sometimes the best relationships come from working together to fix whatever is broken – as happened between Rose and Charlie. Try making one positive change in how you interact with your partner. Open your eyes – and your heart – to find the best person hidden deep inside your partner. Along the way, you might just find the best person hidden deep inside you, too.
Be the one who makes a positive difference in the person your partner becomes. Believe in your partner, but don’t keep it to yourself. Tell your partner you believe in him – and why. Believe in your partner’s goodness. Believe in your partner’s potential. And believe in your relationship and the potential within it.
Change has to begin somewhere. Let it begin with you. It’s time to start believing.