Fix Your Relationship Problems With These Three Decisions
by Michelle Graham
As a kid, I played the role of Hermes between my friends and the boys, carrying notes such as “Do you like me?” and “Check YES or NO if you want to date.” By the time I hit middle and high school, I was convinced that if anyone ever asked me out, it would be as a joke or for a dare.
Now that I’m older and still single (though no longer carrying notes across playgrounds), I can say that I’ve been an observer of relationships for almost my entire life. I’ve seen them rise, fall, rise up again, crash and burn, and bloom like roses out of the ashes. I’ve even had a couple of my own, so I’m no stranger to the ups and downs of dating. But out of all the relationships I’ve seen, one thing stands out as one of the driving factors of success: decision.
Being decisive sometimes seems genetic. I’m convinced there is a gene out there that makes some into Deciders and some into Non-Deciders. The couples who are Deciders have the most successful relationships, while those who don’t decide tend to lose track of themselves and who they are as a couple.
All of that sounds obvious, right? Of course people who can make decisions will be more successful and happy. It means they will choose things to be that way. The problem is, it’s not nearly that simple. Many couples, especially those who have been together for years, find themselves not actually making decisions, but sliding into decisions.
Think of the number of couples around the world who live together but are not married. Without arguing the rightness or wrongness of their living situation, what happens when you look at why they live together? Hundreds of couples now move in together without realizing that it’s happening. One night someone spends the night, and the next day half of the stuff in the house belongs to the other person. To many people the move seems natural and seamless. Yet these couples missed a crucial part of the relationship – actually deciding to live together.
It may seem like a small thing, but the couples that make the most deliberate decisions to spend time together are the ones who make it a lifetime. It’s one thing to hang out because you both happen to be home at the same time; it’s a different thing altogether to set a date and get dedicated one-on-one time.
Back when courtship was practically the only way couples found their way to marriage, everyone knew exactly in what order things would happen. Courting was always followed by a wedding and children. There was no question of a person’s role – the men did the proposing, the women did the accepting. Today’s freedom to explore different variations of the courtship game can be liberating on one hand but confining on the other (Smith 2014). Without that structure to follow, many people find themselves feeling out of place.
Formality might seem like it bogs things down and adds a level of snobbishness most would like to avoid, but there’s a lot to be said for knowing what part you play in the grand scheme of things. I often wish dating now could be as formal as it used to be – at least then I would always know exactly where I stood with any person I was dating.
One of the biggest arguments against living together without being married is the destruction rate of those relationships. For as long as I’ve been old enough to notice that boys are cute, I’ve heard that living together before marriage was one of the best ways to ensure your relationship didn’t last. Since I’d heard that primarily from Christian circles, I was often skeptical. Surely a look at good statistics wouldn’t show that much of a difference! But once I started looking farther into things, it became apparent that even in the secular world, living together before marriage can be the kiss of death to your couplehood.
I personally think that living together without being married is not the wisest decision, but I think that’s part of the issue. Many young Christian couples see their secular counterparts moving in together, and to them it’s no big deal. It’s just what everyone else is doing, so they let it happen. Of course, going with the flow doesn’t work well for lemmings, and it doesn’t always work well for humans, either. Not that going with the flow will lead to jumping off a cliff. But if you do want your relationship to have a better chance of making it through the tough times, it’s time to make decisions based on what’s best, not just on what everyone else is doing.
Do you want your relationship to last to infinity and beyond? Try these three decisions to get started:
Decide to do things together
Have you seen the memes about couples doing things together and therefore staying together? One of my favorites is a CrossFit meme. Both of them are doing what looks like pretty intense squats, and the text reads “Couples that CrossFit together...Stay together!” While I’m not a CrossFit junkie, I can appreciate the thought. It’s a fact – couples that do things together, whether it’s working out, making dinner, or making decisions, stay together. Even better, decide to base your relationship on a firmer foundation than your own decisions. When God’s at the center, nothing can bring you down.
Decide to follow God’s timeline
The easiest way to get frustrated with life is to get off of God’s path. I know that might sound cheesy, but it’s true. I know that for me, sticking with God’s plan means less stress and more time to be joyful. It’s easy to look at other couples and feel like how they do things is the normal way, but your steps aren’t always your own (Prov. 16:9). Besides, wouldn’t you want the one who made you with such care to help you figure out how to navigate this crazy thing called love in your own unique way?
Decide to live with pure hearts
Purity isn’t exactly something held in high esteem in today’s world. In fact, it often feels looked down upon. Few people treat their bodies with the respect God requests, but purity goes even further than that. You can be physically pure, but you can also be pure in your mind. This is crucial, especially if you’re considering a serious relationship. Decide to live out life with purity and honor, and you’re bound to see your relationship blossom in its right time.
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Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D. is a psychologist and faculty member at Liberty University. His blog can be found at http://www.christiancrush.com/relationship/
- See more at: http://www.christiancrush.com/relationships/why-am-i-single.html#sthash.0MKwwLDv.dpuf
Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a faculty member at Liberty University and owner of ChristianCrush.com, which aims to be the most authentic platform on the web for believers to connect and develop God-honoring relationships.
What other decisions do you feel healthy couples should make?