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A brief survey of books on love, articles on marriage, and blogs on improving the two reveal one thing: we’re simultaneously in need of advice on the topic of relationships and overwhelmed by the number of answers out there.
If you look at the answers on love and relationships that are readily available (even in our Christian circles) you’ll find information on:
- How to improve yourself to be a better candidate for marriage
- Steps you can take to revitalize your relationship
- Figuring out how to solve major conflicts
- Sticking it out when it’s hard
- Things you should or shouldn’t say to someone you love
- Creating boundaries
- Keeping God at the center of your relationship
None of these things are wrong. Many are really helpful.
But sometimes I think we get so caught up trying to navigate relationships and bolstering ourselves for the process that we actually miss out on the one beside us. When we do that, we kind of miss the point.
The Lord’s commands were not “preserve marriage” or “build healthy relational patterns,” though those concepts are very useful. At the core of every relationship is one thing: another person.
You can make every change that you believe you need to: spend less time in front of the TV. Start more conversations. Be more up front about your needs. Pray for more patience. But, if you are doing those things because you want a better relationship for yourself, you’re dancing all around the part of your relationship that has value.
So many people seem to move from one strategy to another doing their best to make marriages and relationships “work” because they aren’t taking the first step first. They aren’t loving their loved one.
A relationship is defined by two people living and acting in relation to each other, not to the relationship itself.
Don’t spend countless hours changing your habits to “do your part.” Spend those hours acting out of love for your spouse. Rather than finding ways to tweak yourself to be a better wife, start investing in letting your husband know what is best about him. Husbands, instead of begrudgingly giving up game night, select something that you know she’ll find fun too and do that because…well….you love her.
When loving each other comes first, things like conflict resolution, growing closer, and having healthier patterns come as a natural result. (Tweet This!)
Christ knew this. Always addressing what was in people’s hearts and minds instead of the questions they asked, He got to the heart because all else flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).