Long-distance relationships are tricky, but lots of people find themselves in one these days. This is often because one or both people involved are too smitten to be thinking clearly, which leads me to my own relationship.
Just kidding. (But seriously…) Brooke and I have been thinking at least somewhat clearly from the beginning of our relationship, which has been long-distance for our seven months together. In our search for how to build a great relationship, I stumbled across a book by Matthew Kelly called “The Seven Levels of Intimacy.” It has some general good thoughts about the anatomy of relationships, but one chapter was particularly useful. It is entitled, “Why People Don’t Have Great Relationships.”
He argued, among other things, that people don’t have great relationships because they don’t clearly define what makes a relationship great. That made a lot of sense to us. How can you have a great relationship if you don’t even know what one looks like?
So we made a list. Both of us, separately, wrote down a number of ingredients that we thought would be included in the kind of great relationship that we both want to have, and then later we shared our lists and talked about
them. Below is our list. Please feel free to look it over and steal whatever you want, but we both would encourage you to come up with your own list. One of the reasons this was so good for us as a couple was because of the
conversation and thought that came out of it which gave insight into what was important to the other person. We each spent about a week thinking it over before we shared, and that led to a very fruitful discussion.
We continue to add things or change things as we progress, but it is kind of our little relationship constitution. We look it over from time to time, and it helps us be reminded of the high ideals that we have set for ourselves.
Here is our list; but, again, we encouarage you to create your own. Please let us know if you give it a try. We certainly want to learn from you too!
Ingredients for a GREAT relationship:
*Common goal - to help each other become saints (do this through growing in virtues)*
- Don't take ourselves too seriously
- Always love our Lord Jesus more than each other, and look to Him for our deepest fulfillment
- Each need to take care of ourselves and our own legitimate needs - then we have more to offer the other
- Assume the best of the other (seek understanding before judgment or frustration)
- Always speak well of the other in public - we're on the same team and we have each others' backs
- Each needs individual friends - one person can't fulfill you
- Openness and honesty
- Continue to seek ways to improve relationship (books, role models, etc.)
- Learn about the opposite sex (how they're wired) - it won't fix everything, but will help us understand each other
- Don’t be afraid to tell the other something they don't want to hear if they need to hear it
-Both make sacrifices – give and receive love from the other
- Fun!…with friends and alone
- Communicate needs… what the other can do to help keep the relationship strong
- Accountability: prayer, purity, striving for excellence, etc.
-Ask the Holy Spirit to guide!
-Pray together often (this must follow a natural progression: at meals, going to Mass together, saying a rosary… there’s no specific time line for this, but remember emotional chastity/prudence!.. more on this topic to come)