Relationships are hard work. It is fun to think about all of the butterflies of romance and the camaraderie of friendship. When we dream of relationships, we dream of romance.
But when we live relationships, we live endurance. Commitment and intimacy are daily choices.
Although we often think about relationships as avenues for fun and healing, the reality is they are a struggle. And the truth is they are the better for it. But since we don’t like the struggle, we end up breaking up with people we once loved. Endless feuds replace the initial connections of relationship.
So, a healthy perspective on what relationship is will help you choose better friends and spouses. My brother once told me (when he was dating the woman who became his wife) that main thought was “can I raise children with this person?” It sounded cold and unfeeling to me at the time. But now it makes a lot of sense. Choosing a relationship is not about hooking up at a party. It is about committing to a partner.
When choosing a relationship, the most difficult question is one of commitment. Are you willing to suffer alongside this person? We have had fertility issues in our marriage. I recently wrote an essay where I said I would rather struggle through this process with Kylie than have a baby with anyone else. And the truth of that really punched me in the gut.
We ask ourselves the wrong kinds of questions when searching for relationship – can this person fix me? Will they make me feel better? Can we have fun together?
It is not that these are not important. It is just that they are secondary. If you are willing to commit, through thick and thin, the answers to the other questions will fall in line. That is why marriage vows are all about commitment.
And even before you are married, your relationship is about commitment. When you break up, you are bowing out of the commitment. So it stands to reason that if we can ask ourselves about commitment up front, it will save us the heartache on the backend.
People are weird. Endlessly bizarre. It is what makes us so interesting. And so valuable. We are all unique and have so much to offer one another.
One of the most annoying things about dating is the idea of “who is my type?” It is a pitfall of the romance trap, to be sure. People are fun, boring, quiet, introspective, humorous, readers, writers, artists, builders, and a thousand different things. All of them are valuable. Every type.
What makes a person ready for relationship is not what they are but how they steward what they are. Their character. If you are looking for only certain types of people, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. No type is better or worse (for you) than another. Kylie and I were a long way from each others’ “type”. The value we saw in one another was the character behind who we are. And it has transformed our individual lives and our relationship together.
Character is the barometer of relationships. We can cover it up, self-deceive, and play all sorts of tricks to convince ourselves it is healthy when it isn’t. If we want to engage in healthy relationships, we have to search through the layers and commit to people of good character. No muscle or hair or height or perfect teeth are a replacement for character. In the end, character shines through and that will either make or break your relationship.