Meet the couple of the hour. Let’s call them Tina and John.Tina met John during a campaign at church, and within a month they decided to make things official between them. John admired the fact that Tina was active in church musically, and Tina loved the way John could always make her laugh.
Not long into the relationship, Tina began to notice that John was beginning to criticise her about the way she did things. It began to affect her self-esteem, but she was determined to make him happy.John found that Tina was becoming increasingly upset whenever he would interact with other females, and he began to obsess over his actions when females were present in a social setting.One day apologies turned into kisses, and before long, compromise came out to play. Eventually, Tina and John found themselves crossing the line.
- They were both in church and of the same faith
- They were able to encourage each other spiritually
- They were both willing to go out of their way for the sake of the other person’s needs
- People would always assume they were in a relationship before they had made things official
- They were both physically attractive
All the boxes were ticked, right?
All of them?
Whilst looking into information surrounding drivers, and the psychology behind the decision to speed and the possible consequences, I discovered an interesting truth. When you choose to ignore the speed limit for whatever reason, usually the person applying that pressure to go faster is you.
We can often be our own worst enemy. We get frustrated when a car drives too close behind us, yet we often do the same when we make ourselves the only priority.
Another example is a car accident, and the knock-on effect it can cause. When you are stuck in a queue on the motorway and you eventually get past, how often do you put your foot down to make up lost time? Despite just leaving the scene of an accident…
Have you ever considered all of the people who are impacted by a car accident? You are part of the ripple effect, as are all of the other drivers who were delayed, and the family of those involved, the medical teams, the police presence and other services, the insurance companies etc. It doesn’t just affect one person, but many people feel the impact of such a crisis.
You rarely consider this, unless you are the very cause of such an impact.
One word: Speed
When we apply this concept of speeding to the context of a relationship, it becomes clearer for us to see where so many of us go wrong.
Going back to our couple, Tina and John. We saw that Tina was beginning to lose self esteem because of John’s criticism over the way she did things, and John was beginning to obsess over his actions towards females due to Tina’s lack of trust. If they had taken all the time that they required to get to know one another before committing to a relationship, then they would have found out more about one another and identified areas that needed to be addressed.
Tina would have eventually discovered that John suffered from insecurities due to feelings of inadequacy during his upbringing. John would have learnt how Tina was involved in a previous relationship where her partner was unfaithful. It all comes down to communication, and your ability to not only be honest, but also listen. Many people try and sweep their issues under the carpet, then find themselves tripping over later on. They never go away unless you face them, and if you can’t even do that with the one person you plan on spending the rest of your life with, then something needs to change.
Tina and John had never learned how to communicate in this way, so they resorted to showing instead of telling. They were both in a vulnerable place emotionally, and they found themselves doing the very things that they knew were unacceptable in the sight of God. This is a dangerous place to be, and many relationships are hanging on by nothing other than the sexual activity and physical gratification that it brings.
Consequences of Impatience
There are grave consequences for the single (person) who does not choose to develop patience and wait on God’s timing. Society is full of heart-breaking examples.
Some end in divorce; others end in an emotional separation that causes the husband and wife to merely live under the same roof. Some leave precious children damaged by the insecurity and fear that an unhealthy marriage produces. The personal loneliness and fear that these lifestyles bring is an anguish that is indescribable.
God did not intend (anyone) to have to live like that.
–Lady in Waiting, Jackie Kendall
When we see the qualities that we believe to be acceptable, we change our light from red to green. The only problem is, so many of us struggle to keep to the limit, and find ourselves creeping above until we have to deal with the consequences. I’m sure you have noticed how the only way drivers tend to change their bad habits is when they have to deal with the consequences. You might even be able to testify to this! I know I most certainly can.
No one likes to feel like they are in the wrong, but sometimes recognising this can save you a whole load of stress!
It is vital that we learn to keep to the limit, especially during the relationship. How do we do this? By using the time before-hand to determine whether the relationship has the potential to endure everyday life. Consider the following questions about the person you are with:
- Are they of the same culture? Or is there a divide? (I say divide because there are many people who come together of different cultures and get along smoothly, but this can also be an area of major conflict down the line, especially if this involves ideas such as the desire to move countries and live elsewhere etc.)
- How do they relate to family members, and how comfortable are their family around you?
- When it comes to finances, are they able to save money and spend wisely?
- Can you discuss topics such as finance, boundaries, and any habits or issues that you feel need to be addressed, openly and honestly with them?
- Can you work together on everyday tasks if required?
These are just a few, and I encourage you to come up with some of your own. I am basing these questions on my experiences so far, as you will base them on your own also, and the key is to be able to think realistically in terms of the other person. Look beyond the qualities and the way they make you feel, and start digging deeper to uncover what your relationship is really made of. It’s far better that you uncover these things now, than find yourself digging up deep-rooted issues during marriage.
Most people will be willing to work on areas that need to be addressed, and this will also determine the partnership that you have built with the other person. It is never too late to make changes that will determine the rest of your life, and with your focus fixed on God, you will find encouragement despite the struggles that come with a healthy commitment.
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.