This Saturday, I will celebrate two years with my girlfriend Bri. While this stretch of time is not by any means long, to me it holds great meaning and has taught me several important lessons about life and others. Below I'll share 5 things I have learned.
1: Establish a Purpose First.
So many relationships end up having issues down the road due to lack of purpose. One person thinks one thing, their significant other has different ideas. When Bri and I started our relationship, we were clear about our intentions. We stated that we were seeking to find out if each other was worth pursuing for marriage. By no means did we say we were planning on marriage, but we differentiated ourselves from others our age by stating that we were not just looking to "have fun," but instead seek after someone who we could someday marry. If you have a purpose for your relationship, you will avoid some possible pitfalls down the road. One other thing having a purpose does for your relationship;
it helps you to determine where you are. Using the most shallow example: if your purpose was to have fun, and you're not having fun anymore, your relationship is probably at its end. If however, your goal was to find out if someone was worth pursuing further, after a time you may realize that they are, or aren't the person you were seeking after.
2: Foundation Shapes Your Relationship.
What you build your relationship upon will shape it. Wether you recognize it or not, every relationship has a foundation. This does not necessarily mean one thing, but rather a combination of factors that shape the course of your relationship. For instance, If your relationship is built upon "having fun while it lasts" you're likely to have fun for a short time, but the very core of your relationship is built on it eventually coming to an end. By comparison, if like us, you are followers of Christ, then there is already many ideas about what a relationship should look like (Mostly in the form of boundaries) that get added into the picture. Common things others build
relationships upon are things like; love, economics, popularity, stability, childbearing, fun, sex, jealousy, drama, religion, politics, and countless others. Each one carries certain connotations about a relationship.
3: Communication is Key.
Communication, Communication, Communication. Basically everything I've mentioned so far (and will mention) is dependent on communication. I cannot stress how important a lesson this has been for me. No matter what phase of a relationship you are in, communication defines how you think about, and act towards your significant other. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that no two people are the same, and if you want your relationship to be successful and fulfilling, it is necessary to make sure you are on the same page. Talk through issues, talk through ideas, talk through life.
4: Think About Why You're Doing Something. (Or Not Doing Something)
Actions have power. When I'm contemplating where I am in my relationship, I have found it helpful to ask why. Maybe its a social norm, or closer to my relationship with Bri, maybe its the boundaries you set. When we started our relationship, we did not just adopt everything Christians or society say about relationships. We asked why. We looked for the reasons people say the things they do, and we talked about where we stood in regards to those ideas. There are many things that would be "normal" for people our age to do by society's standards, but when we looked at those things in relation to our faith, we decided that the majority of them did not fit the model God has provided us. If this was any other decision in life (business, finance, etc) it would be obvious to think through what you are doing, but for some reason when it comes to matters of the heart, people underestimate the power that actions have. Thinking through your steps provides clarity, understanding, and less problems down the road.
5: Relationships are Never Passive.
Relationships are constantly changing. This surprised me at first, as I always thought of a relationship as more of a solid thing, without all of the drama and problems portrayed on TV. While you may be able to avoid those kinds of issues, a relationship will always be changing. Most times its a slow change, and at other times I've noticed it more abruptly. This is not necessarily a positive or negative thing, but it does boil down to one point. A relationship takes work. It is rare that there will be at time when you are not working on some aspect of your relationship, wether it be big or small. This can be stressful at times, but for me at least, it has been incredibly rewarding.
There are many more things that I have learned during this time, but these are some of the key things that came to mind. The experiences of the past two years have changed much of who I am, as well as much of how I think about life, others, and faith. Thanks to Bri for the effort and commitment she has blessed me with. She has been an incredible friend and companion to me during the past few years, and I pray that God continues to bless our relationship as we seek after Him.