What Makes Relationships Difficult?

“Why is it that everyone offers relationship advice but there’s very little that actually helps? Why is it that the more I try the less I get from my relationships? Why am I the only one who seems to be trying? Why is it that we have the same arguments over and over again?  Why do we tend to have the same problems in different relationships?  Why do we seem to be attracted to people who aren’t good for us?  What simple steps can we take to improve the relationships in our lives?  What should there be in every healthy relationship that will give us a fighting chance at success?”

The last question is where we are going to begin.  Many of the other questions will be answered as we go.  However, if we don’t really have the basics of a relationship – the essentials – the rest won’t matter.  This isn’t advice on relationships or healthy relationship tips, these are the essentials.

Three Different Components Make Up Successful Relationships

There are 3 different components to a successful relationship.  Notice, I didn’t say, “There are three absolutes to every good relationship” or “There are three characteristics of every ‘ok at least’ relationship.”  No, these are three things that a relationship needs, on average, to be successful.  Can you do it without all three?  Sure.  Will it be more difficult?  Yes. 

Today we will look at the very first characteristic, and it will probably be the most controversial.  Many of you will read this one and perhaps stop reading.  Many of you will roll your eyes and give examples of those who have this, but also have train wreck relationships.  Allow me to explain the characteristic, the way it works, and what happens if you don’t have it.

The First Characteristic to a Successful Relationship

The first characteristic of a successful relationship is having God at the center, through Jesus Christ.  The way that works is having the understanding that God cares about your significant other far more than you ever could.  He is more vested, more involved, and more aware than you could ever hope to be.  He is working on them, reaching out to them, loving them, out of His passion for them.  He is, in fact, using you to be there for them…on His behalf!  

I say a “relationship with God through Jesus” for this reason.  It is because of Jesus that you can pray to God through the power of His Holy Spirit.  Therefore, when you are sad, lonely, frustrated, or needing to get through to your significant other, you can ask God how to do that.  He will put that on your heart.  If you have unmet needs you can pray and ask God to meet them through your spouse.  God bridges the gap between the two of you.  The pressure is off of you to be the one and only way your other’s needs get met.  

When God is not at the center of your relationship, all of the pressure is on the other person and on yourself.  We hold the other person 100% accountable for how we are, perhaps even who we are.  If we are sad?  Their fault.  If we get hurt?  Their fault.  If our needs aren’t met?  Their fault.  We begin to manipulate, control, and cajole to have our needs met.  If we are “successful” in getting those needs met that way, it does not satiate.  It’s like someone who’s drowning  pushing down on the one saving them.  They may be alive, but they’re not well.  

“Jay, I don’t even believe in God and have been happily (for the most part) married for the past 35 years.”  I get that.  But tell me this, wouldn’t it be great if there was a God and He did care intimately about you, your life, and your relationships?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that someone greater than you was watching over you and your spouse, caring for all that was going on?  Can you do it without that?  Sure.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it optimal?  In my mind, no.

So, that is where we begin.  Do you have God at the center of your relationship(s)?  It should be noted that this does not just apply to romantic relationships but to all relationships.  If you don’t, is it worth giving it a try?  If it’s just you keeping Him there, that’s a start.  Pray hard that your significant other would find God to be real and trustworthy as well.  Begin to talk with Him more about your spouse/other and ask Him how He feels for them.  Don’t just pray and make demands, ask and listen.  It’s the beginning of so much more.  It’s the beginning of a successful relationship.