We love feeling comfortable. Fact.
The idea of wearing a fitted dress or a suit whilst relaxing at home isn’t as appealing as throwing on a pair of jogging bottoms and a baggy t-shirt. Neither is the idea of attending an unfamiliar church by yourself as appealing as attending a church where you’re greeted by familiar faces.
Our comfort zones often define our actions – what we are willing to do and what we won’t do, where we are willing to go and where we won’t to go. Whatever the circumstance, the level of comfort we experience will play a role in the outcome of many situations.
Despite having such positive connotations, comfort isn’t always a good thing…
In this post (the second article in our “Love & Respect” series) we will be covering the following principle:
“Does he hold me in his heart the way I hold him in mine?”
The book shares the following example when highlighting this principle. Here the author shares his personal experiences with his wife:
“A few more years went by, and Sarah’s birthday was coming up. She was thinking about how I would respond – would I even remember? She always remembered birthdays, but birthdays weren’t big on my radar screen. She knew she would never forget my birthday, because she loved me dearly. She wondered, however, if I would celebrate her birthday. She was thinking, Does he hold me in his heart the way I hold him in mine?“
When I read this, I began reflecting upon my own experiences within my relationship. For example, it was probably news to Liam to hear that I was content just spending time with him on my birthday – by no means did it have to be a lavish occasion. At that time he was between jobs and he wanted to mark my birthday in a special way, but I knew that funds were tight. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to be treated! But I had to take the reality of our situation at that time into consideration. He still felt like he was letting me down, and even though our expectations were different, we chose to find a way to meet in the middle.
Most women are especially sensitive to important dates and celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries etc. She expects him to make just as much as an effort for her as she would for him, if not more so. Whereas some men love to impress their partners, but are more relaxed when it comes to their own birthdays, and some men are just relaxed either way!
The problems arise when these expectations are not expressed, or met. Problems can also arise when these expectations are met to begin with, but become less and less of a priority as the years go by…
I can’t speak from experience when it comes to maintaining the condition of your marriage twenty years down the line, but I can speak from experience as to the reality that surrounds me.
Many people fail to recognise the risks of becoming comfortable over the long term. Some partners have learnt to be content that things are no longer the way they were, but what about those who refuse to accept this change? That’s where conflict comes in, and the dynamic of your relationship can change completely – especially when it comes to the way you now perceive the other person.
“Does he hold me in his heart the way I hold him in mine?”
There are certain aspects of your relationship that will inevitably change over the years, such as responsibilities that take priority (career, children etc.), physical health/age, but I believe that relationships that maintain their consistency are made up of two people who are willing to leave their comfort zones for the other. Such as making a conscious effort to set apart quality time, and looking after your physical appearance by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
The demands of life can often overshadow the small efforts, or we can end up so busy that our relationship ends up suffering. The more we break free of our comfort zones and step into the serving zone, we will become far more sensitive to the wants, needs, and desires of our partner. When both individuals have this mindset, it is an incredible experience! Unfortunately many relationships consist of a “one-sided approach” where only one person is willing to serve whilst the other sits comfortably.
I believe that you should definitely start as you mean to go on. Don’t wait until you’re married to start implementing positive changes and routines that will allow you both to grow closer to one another and to God. Many of us have this false perception of marriage, as though once he or she walks down the aisle they will leave a different person.
If you have concerns now – address them. If nothing changes – move on. I know it may not be as simple as that once the emotional ties come in to play, but the principle really is as blunt as that. Anything that may be of concern to you now will only be magnified within marriage – that and the fact that you are now tied to this person for the rest of your life! (That shouldn’t be a scary thought…)
The beautiful thing about relationships is that they are what you make them. What you put in – you get out. There’s nothing quite like getting to know a person inside and out, and having someone in your life that knows you inside and out (sometimes even better than you know yourself!)
The biggest battle we will ever face is against self – our selfish wants, desires, and expectations. There is nothing wrong with having personal wants, desires, and expectations as these can all be very positive! But the problems arise when we are selfish in our way of thinking. You can’t hope to have a healthy relationship when you’re only in it for what you can get from the other person.
What can you give?
How can you help?
What could you do differently?
This way of thinking will help us not to get stuck being comfortable. You may be challenged to remind yourself to think differently on a daily basis, but consistency requires consistency.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
-Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)
The most rewarding relationships include two people constantly trying to out-serve each other…
Thanks for reading, and we will continue this “Love & Respect” series in the next post (See the previous article for the first post; “If he won’t listen, why should I waste my breath?”)
Feel free to share any comments you may have on this topic below.