By Dan Langerock
How valuable is a relationship to you? Is it something you want to last a long time or get tired of right away and discard it? Some people don’t want long commitments while others want something that will last many years. You had better make sure your ideas on this subject match with the person you are thinking of developing a relationship with or there will be heartbreak in your future. Here are some thought-provoking questions you need to ask yourself before you jump into a relationship with someone:
1) Why do you want to be in a relationship at all? Is it because you are trying to escape a situation in another part of your life, like an abusive home environment, intense loneliness, etc? When we get into a relationship, it should be because we care about that person and want to be committed to them, not because we are trying to escape something else. A trap is right around the corner with heartbreak waiting to happen if you persist in doing this to yourself.
2) What are you bringing into the relationship besides caring and loving that person? Do you have a lot of emotional baggage from other relationships you are bringing into this one? If you do, without fixing what is wrong first, you will overload the new relationship and perhaps set yourself up for a new heartbreak. For an example, my first wife and I lived in a little house during our marriage that only had one small closet, not nearly enough space for all of our clothes. We always felt crowded because there wasn’t room for what we had. The same thing happens when you bring baggage from other parts of your life to the new relationship because it is hard enough getting used to the new situation without overloading it with excess problems. This is not to say you shouldn’t bring anything into a new relationship, but some people store up so much baggage over a lifetime that it ruins the new relationship before it has a chance to grow. It would be like constantly digging up a flower you had planted in the ground because you didn’t like where you had put it. There would be no chance for its roots to develop so the beautiful flower could be seen.
3) Have you looked at yourself inwardly, to see if there are recurring attitudes and other things that could sabotage your new relationship? If you don’t do this, you are bound to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This question is sort of like the question about baggage, but stated a different way. An old saying is, “If you don’t learn from history, you are destined to repeat it”. This is true of relationships also, because if you don’t pay attention to the causes of what is happening in your life, you will always be doing the same things over again, and perhaps putting the blame where it doesn’t belong.
4) Why do you want to be in a relationship with this person? Physical attraction? Good job? Nice amenities? Or because you genuinely love and care for them? My wife and I met online and got married. But the first three or so years of our marriage were really hard because we were homeless for most of that time. We didn’t know this was going to happen to us when we got married, but later on after our marriage, neither one of us was able to work because of physical problems, yet our love for each other deepened during this time, instead of crumbling because our love was strong and it was grounded in God, not in worldly reasons for a relationship. Things have vastly improved for us now, but we have learned a lot from all we went through so we can better help others around us in our ministries.
5) Is God at the center of your relationship? Within two weeks after we met online my wife and I knew we loved each other, and said so. My first wife had died and I was searching for a prayer partner to help me through this transition of grief. My first marriage lasted 33 years, and it was hard to be single once more after so long. But we put God at the center of our relationship from the beginning. We didn’t know we were going to fall in love but God did, and He guided us to a wonderful marriage that has lasted almost five years at this point in time.
What is your relationship’s foundation? Jesus told a story about two men: One built his house on sand, and everything went along alright until the rain came and undermined the foundation of sand under the house. The other man built his house on a rock, so that when the rain came there was no problem with the foundation washing away. If you build your relationship on the things of this world like those mentioned above and others, then when hard times come in whatever form, your foundation won’t be there when you need it most.
However, when you build your relationship with God at the center, then when things happen that are bad, your foundation will still be there if you keep trusting God. God wants you to be happy because He loves you, but you were given a choice to be close to Him or not, just like you will choose to be close or far away emotionally from your partner in this new relationship. You are the only one who can make that choice in either case. God hopes you will choose to be close to Him so your relationship has a better chance of succeeding instead of ending in heartbreak and tears. James 4:8 says, “Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you”. God has already made His move by making the way for you to be forgiven of everything you have ever done or ever will do. Now it is your choice to be close to Him or not. Your life and relationships will be so much more fulfilling if you have the right foundation. But the question is, what choice will you make?