Lasting Relationships and Your Future
- Wednesday, December 01, 2004
If you've ever wanted motivation to work on your semi-serious dating relationship, here's one:
Experts say that people who are able to sustain lasting relationships before they marry stay married longer and are more likely to be married for life than those whose pre-marital relationships don't last very long.
That means that by working on your current relationship, even if you don't end up marrying the person, you are contributing to the success of your future marriage.
Relationships aren't always easy. In the beginning, the level of passion and excitement you feel for the other person drowns out the things that aren't so desirable. You are so excited about being around him that you quickly forget about his annoying humming and the fact that he disagrees with you politically. But, as with all relationships, the new eventually wears off and what didn't bother you before becomes a major annoyance or issue.
The change is due to the ever increasing intimacy between the two of you. The more you are around each other, the more the "little things" began bothering you. This isn't all bad. It means that you care.
When something on TV annoys you, you simply turn the channel because you have no commitment or intimacy to the channel or the person annoying you on the screen. But when you have even small levels of commitment and intimacy you have greater potential to become disturbed by some of the other person's actions because they are a major part of your life.
I'm telling you all this so that you can expect annoyances and issues to make your relationship less effortless and natural than it was in its beginning. That's not the time to quit. Not only does a human being deserve more from you (and you from another), but you need to "practice" the commitment levels that will be necessary in a marriage.
If you break the relationship off at the first sign of conflict you have hurt yourself in two ways:
1. You might have married this person if you had weathered the difficult days and come out even closer to each other than before the trouble began.
2. You didn't allow yourself to learn how to function in a relationship that was experiencing difficulty. When you marry, there will be times of difficulty, arguments, hurt feelings, annoying habits and anger. If you canceled a pre-marriage relationship because it wasn't all "smooth sailing," it will be much more difficult on you when you actually marry and experience friction.
Know When to Fold 'Em
I'm certainly not saying that any relationship should be forced. A person can only stand so much before enough becomes enough. However, I am saying that one of the best indicators of who will make a "good spouse" might be how he or she reacts to conflict in your relationship. If she can't handle a little conflict before marriage, it will be difficult for her to handle it when you're married.
If anything else, consider conflict as a personal challenge. Not a reason to call off your relationship, but an opportunity to test your ability to stay committed despite difficult times. Some will handle this better than others.
If you notice a constant pattern of conflict, it might help you decide against continuing your relationship. But the bottom line is, don't give up at the first sign of conflict so that you'll have some experience when it happens in future relationships and so that you don't ditch "Mr. (or Mrs.) Right" because you had a few wrong days.
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Lee Wilson is a ministry consultant at Family Dynamics Institute, a marriage and family ministry that works with churches and concerned Christians to build strong, healthy marriages. You can visit their Web site at www.familydynamics.net or call them at 1-800-650-9995.
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