So I was at Singles Summit last week hosted by Pastor ‘Poju and it was a stimulating two and half hours of learning – and unlearning.
‘Poju, who serves as the Senior Pastor at Covenant Christian Centre spoke about The Three Most Important Things To Understand: Chemistry, Core Values and Crisis Management in (committed romantic) relationships. Here’s my summary note for the day.
The entertainment media has subtly established a standard for what makes a sizzling relationship. Our minds have become unconsciously biased towards placing so much emphasis on externals (appearance, carriage, social and economic status) and this has produced very shallow relationships where partners are ‘in love’ but really do not know each other.
Although chemistry (external attraction) is not a viable basis for a relationship, it is an indispensable ingredient.
Compatibility without chemistry is friendship; chemistry without compatibility breeds lust
On CORE VALUES
Great relationships are built from the inside out. Core values represent the internal pillars, the invisible support structure. They are the beliefs, habits and attitudes that cement connection and create intimacy. Some core values worth evaluating are:
Is there a consistent belief system about God, faith and the expression of your relationship with God? Being born again, I’m afraid is not enough.
There are no fixed laws on levels of spiritual maturity. However, the ‘stronger’ partner should lovingly inspire the other towards spiritual development while the other person must demonstrate a genuine commitment to improvement.
Avoid a romantic relationship with a person who shows no clear desire to grow spiritually. If everything between you is based on physical attraction, the relationship is very shallow.
Most of your time together will be spent communicating. Because communication is a major element in building intimacy, this can become a struggle when one person is significantly more intelligent than the other.
The depth and richness of your conversation is influenced by your relative levels of understanding.
What are they expecting from a spouse? What roles have they assumed are ‘natural’ to your gender? Flip that. What roles are you assuming they’ll just take up because in your opinion, “that’s just what a husband/wife does”?
Is there clarity in this aspect of your relationship?
Relationship roles aren’t set in stone; both of you must work out a mutually favourable arrangement.
Degree of Personal Drive/Ambition/Energy
Do you wish to ‘see the world’ and immerse yourself in a rich variety of experiences while they’d rather stay indoors all day?
Are they dreaming of owning corporations while you’d never risk a day’s pay?
Walk through these questions (and similar ones) so you don’t irritate your partner with your gung-ho demeanor or be secretly resented for being such a dreamless dead weight.
Minor personality quirks become magnified in marriage. The small irritations become major issues.
Patience, tolerance and empathy will help you work things out.
Autonomy vs. Closeness
Some people love solitude; they are energised by their time alone and are comfortable letting others have their space. Others want you involved in all their affairs and strive to be in yours as well.
None is superior. But you must understand your preferences and your partner’s as well.
On Crisis RESOLUTION
Because it is almost impossible to perfectly match on all core values, you will need to skillfully manage your differences. Depending on how you handle it, crises can strengthen a relationship or shred it.
Tips for Crisis Resolution
- Don’t run away from it. Resist the urge to ‘switch off’. You may not be ready to talk about it on the spot but let your partner know this and request that the discussion be delayed. Oblige this request when you’re the one being asked.
- Each person must be allowed to express the full extent of their feelings. Dominating, manipulating or dismissing the other person’s thoughts and feelings can lead to bottled up resentment.
“You should not feel that way”. Delete this phrase from your vocabulary – forever!
3. Separate the issue from the person. Be very careful about making general statements about the other person’s character (“you’re always inconsiderate”, “you’re so uncaring”) because of a mistake.
4. All matters are little – until a loose tongue steps in. A soft answer still turns anger away.
5. Focus on seeking solutions rather than ‘winning’ or being right. Be polite and understand this is not about who can shout the loudest.
The worst thing to win is an argument with someone you love.
Hope you found these thoughts useful. I wish you all the best in your love life!
Live by Design.