No one interested in companionship with someone wants to be in a bad relationship, per se. Of course, there are some that still have that affinity towards that girl or guy who we might consider to be a bit on the edge, and while they rack up initial cool points, they do not understand the deeper layers of commitment such as fidelity, honesty and, well, commitment. But even for those who have given their heart to seek out men or women who have a better approach towards relationships, they still may have need of a little encouragement themselves for their side of the coin.
So, here are a few insights to what the real deal may look like. This is not a be-all, end-all snapshot, but rather some trustworthy principles of both doing relationship well, as well as observing a relationship and seeing if it has something in and of itself that exists in addition to the ‘doing’ part…
One indicator of a healthy relationship with long term potential is a positive active and passive component. The passive part is simply that which the two seem to have naturally before and beyond doing anything. Some people call this chemistry. It isn’t. It is a vital part of chemistry. Peering into this area of your relationship can be intimidating because it may be very revealing, and it’s the part that you don’t have control over. You can’t force it to be, you can’t make it happen. No matter how much you like the person, how nice or good the person is, or how much you want the relationship to work. It’s either there, or it’s not. And adverse situations expose this area for what it is, or isn’t.
The active component is the part each is responsible for engaging in attitudes and behaviors to cultivate friendship, foster trust, and facilitate everything else. This is more the doing part, the daily serving, the exercising of good listening, the verbal and nonverbal communication of love and respect, and so forth.
Relationships can be imbalanced by lacking one or the other. For those who lack substantially in the passive, natural part, they may tend to try to overcompensate in the active part, or pressure one another in this area when the lack is noticed. And similarly, for those who know they have the passive component very strongly, they may tend to ride the strength of that, failing to realize the importance and even vitality of the active piece.
Let it be known that both are equally and vitally important. The absence of one will starve the other. Having both of these in place is true chemistry. Recognizing one or the other at some point is potential for chemistry. It takes conscious effort to be patient with emotion and focus on these things, while confirming core compatibility, before investing too deeply emotionally with someone. And even then, there’s another layer of relational maturity that asks us to focus extensively on the friendship aspect of the relationship as a way of establishing the foundation on which everything else resides, understanding that a relationship top-heavy in romance or other things will falter. (It also helps to keep certain things a little reserved that were meant for the marriage bed…remember, there are always very healthy, above-board ways to express personal desire in non-sexual ways.)
Here’s a few final thoughts for now…
– Be willing to be honest about the passive and active needs of your relationship. If you are married, partner with God and one another in working on both levels. Don’t settle for less than a marriage was designed to be. You don’t have to.
– Active engagement in one another’s lives is the responsibility of both, and it keeps that which you have refreshed and awake. Do not stop listening well and talking much. Delight in friendship with one another. Don’t buy into the lie that relationships have to become boring or slow, especially after marriage.
– Boredom is not an entity itself. It is the absence of caretaking and engaging one another with priority and intentionality.
– When you have the natural, passive component strongly, there is a settled rest and security where there is no pressure on performance to maintain fun, synergy or enjoyment. So your active investment in this area has no pressure to live up to something, so it’s more free to be what it naturally is.