Now, let’s be clear here: in NO way am I a relationship expert. However, my current relationship is healthy, we are happy, and we love Jesus with our whole hearts. I have had several friends recently ask me something along the lines of, “what is the best piece of relationship advice you can give me based on what you have learned so far?” So this is a compilation of all the things I would tell anyone who is in a relationship or eventually will be!
**Disclaimer: I will be speaking purely from personal experience. Feel free to take or leave what you please because every relationship is different and some things work better for some couples than others.**
1. Seek a solid relationship with Christ FIRST. In order to share your life with someone else, you must first know where you’re going at the end of it. By this I mean, heaven or hell? You have to gain a foundation in something (well.. Someone) that is unchanging in order to be able to successfully stay true to who you are and what you believe. It is so easy to get lost when you’re in love… So fall in love with Jesus first. On a similar note, don’t missionary date. Missionary dating is essentially “taking on a project.” You start dating a nonbeliever thinking that you can change them into a believer. When you do this, it ties their faith to you and you become part of their foundation. If things don’t work out, you could easily rip their foundation (including their relationship with Christ) out from under them. It’s not healthy for them to be dependent on you for their faith. It can take your focus off your own relationship with Christ when you focus on someone else’s faith. Also for girls, it can put you in an awkward position of kind of leading the relationship along when God designed it to be the other way around.
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
2. Stay pure. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, it’s really hard and YES everyone deals with temptation. Even if you know you’re going to marry someone, you’re still not married yet. The reason why this is taught is because God designed sex to join two people together. If you’re not married, you’re giving yourself to someone who you may or may not be spending the rest of your life with. Not to mention, if you have already given your most precious gift, your purity, away to someone else, when you find your true soulmate it can do some serious damage. If they saved themselves for you and you were careless enough to give it away already, despite comforting words it can still feel like a knife in the heart. It doesn’t matter how much love you share or how much protection you use, God can always create a child no matter how careful you are. A child is always a blessing, but it is certainly a lot harder to raise them and accomplish things in your life when you were not expecting one and it is apart from the support system of a marriage. Even though the media glorifies sex, just wait, guys. Really. Please. It’s way more hurt than it’s worth. To help avoid sexual sin, set emotional and physical boundaries at the very beginning of your relationship and continue to discuss and alter them as you grow.
“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
“And the two are united in one. Since they are no longer two, but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:8-9
3. Keep the future in mind and don’t waste your time. Even before you start dating, if you don’t think there’s a possibility that you could get married, don’t waste your emotional energy and time on someone who isn’t worth it. Make sure that before going into something as serious as a committed relationship, you both are spiritually and emotionally mature enough to take on the responsibilities of dating someone. Yes, things change and not all relationships work out obviously, but always be evaluating your relationship to see if this person is really someone you can see yourself actually being happy with forever. Always be praying and listening to God about what His will is for you and your relationship. Also, know that there is a difference between not lowering your standards and being overly picky. We all have flaws. (Including you.)
“[Make] the best use of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:16
4. Don’t obsess over your appearance. If someone is truly worth keeping around, they should view you as the most beautiful and wonderful person they’ve ever known. This is something I truly struggle with. I feel like for someone as amazing as my boyfriend is to like me, I need to be perfectly thin with beautiful hair and clothes and “on fleek” eyebrows or whatever that is. But that’s not the case! I’ve been blessed (and so will you) with someone who absolutely loves who I am and, for some unearthly reason, thinks I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. I don’t need to put on makeup and lose weight to get his attention. And the best part is, he loves my heart more than my beauty. Focus on making the inside of you beautiful, not the outside. First of all, because you already are. And second of all, because the person of your dreams should seek out someone who loves Jesus and others; your beauty is just a bonus!
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
5. Nobody’s perfect and it’s okay to be wrong. In the wise words of Hannah Montana, “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days… Nobody’s perfect. You live and you learn it and if I mess it up sometimes, nobody’s perfect.” Yes, that song is really old and some (wrong) people may think she’s uncool, but she was definitely on to something. It’s okay to screw up! It’s okay to say sorry! It’s okay to be wrong! A relationship should never be scored and you shouldn’t keep track of fights that you’ve won or lost. You should be overjoyed for your partner to win and be right and be so happy to give them the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, who cares about a little fight? It’s the big picture that really matters, not who is the better cook or who has the last word. At the same time, you need to readily forgive with a willing heart– and mean it. Always jump at the opportunity to extend grace!
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“Intense love does not measure, it just gives” -Mother Teresa
6. Respect each other. Always be respectful, kind, and loving whenever you talk to or think about each other. If you want to be in a relationship with this person, they apparently have many things that are worth respecting. (Otherwise, that’s a big red flag.) Even if you are furious with them, never take the opportunity to hurt them with a “low blow.” Speak with kind words! This is someone you love! Imagine if their parents could hear everything you said to them… It might make you reevaluate the way you talk to each other. Something my mom told me once was to treat the person you’re dating as if they are someone else’s future spouse. A lot of times the people we date don’t end up being the people we marry. Think about who you will be marrying. You would want their current boyfriend/girlfriend to treat them with immense kindness and respect; just as you are doing. And hopefully the person you are currently dating turns out to be the person you marry, but only the Lord knows our future.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10
7. Be COMPLETELY 100% honest and open. Even if it could potentially hurt your partner or cause an argument, always be honest. There’s few things that hurt a relationship more than lying. Even if it’s something little, just let them know. If it doesn’t come up in natural conversation, still tell them. It’s way better to know the truth than to be fed lies. Not to mention, this is someone you love or will grow to love! You want to get to know them deeply and personally and chances are, they’ll forgive you. Honesty builds trust and I am a firm believer that trust is the second most important thing in a relationship; the first being loving Jesus and giving everything to Him. You should trust this person enough to tell them about any mistakes, past events, current feelings, or ANYTHING! And if you don’t, then things need to be reevaluated…
“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.” Proverbs 12:22
8. Be best friends and enjoy each other. If you don’t enjoy spending time with them, why are you dating them? You should delight in getting to be around them or learn more about them! Relationships are hard, but man, they can be so much fun! And they should be, too! Along with this, make sure you get to know their friends and the people who are important to them.
“ Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9. Have a solid support system. You need someone outside of the relationship to keep you in check. Whether it’s a parent, a friend, a sibling, or a mentor; someone needs to keep you grounded. (Or all of them!) It helps if it is someone who is on the same page as you with their faith and has had a successful relationship. Encourage your partner to do this as well! Everybody needs a girls/guys night out once in a while. An accountability partner/group is a great way to keep yourself in check as well as share with others what you have learned.
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Proverbs 13:20
10. Be a part of each other’s family. To me, there’s nothing more meaningful than someone who loves the people that I love. Not to mention, your family knows you well and knows what they’re talking about, so their opinion of your significant other carries a lot of weight. If this is someone you are going to marry, then your family will become theirs and visa versa. You can learn so much about someone by spending time with their family. It’s a good indication of how they’ll treat you when they’re used to you later on in life. There have been studies that say to watch how a young man treats his mother/sister because he loves them, but has been around them for years and is used to them. (Same with girls and their dad/brother.)
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
11. Be independent. Don’t spend every waking moment with them or in communication with them. You need a healthy balance of family, friends, and your relationship; and God shouldn’t just be the top priority, but an integral part of every aspect of your life. I’m not saying that you should always be prepared for the worst, but if you end up breaking up and the only relationship you had cared about for some time was your boyfriend/girlfriend, who do you have left? What I’m saying is: don’t harm other relationships just to strengthen one. Instead, hang out with other friends and with family and community! This person should NEVER become an idol. Always make time for them and make sure your boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t last on your priority list, but make healthy decisions about the time you spend with them.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
12. Build each other up. Once you’re in a relationship, that person either already is or should immediately become one of your biggest supporters; and the same goes for you. You guys should be a positive influence and encourage each other in your walks with Christ and everyday events. You should be front row at their games with a handmade shirt and painted face, shouting at the top of your lungs for them! Even when they lose, they should still be number one to you. If they are struggling, pray over them. If they are hurting, go get their favorite flowers and hug them as tight as you can. If they need advice, pray that God will use the Holy Spirit in you to give wise counsel to them. If they are down on themselves, remind them why you think they are incredible. A relationship to me means that you have an official partner in life that you can always lean on. Never be the one that makes them feel less than what they are. It’s okay to call them out on things, but just help them fix it and love them with no conditions.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
13. Compromise and try new things. Even if you aren’t remotely interested in their biggest hobby, try it! You may end up liking it just as much as they do. If you end up hating it, that’s okay too! But still be there to support them and join them every once in a while. For example, I am not a big fan of rock climbing, but that just so happens to be one of my boyfriend’s most favorite things to do. It doesn’t mean I have to like it or even pretend to like it; that just means that I should go with him every once in a while or belay for him. I try to always take the opportunity to listen to him get excited about his passions. Why? Because I love him and love is not selfish. As a parallel, my boyfriend doesn’t play music or have anything to do with music, but he is at every one of my performances. As well as trying each other’s favorite things, try things that neither of you have experienced! Pinterest is a God-send in gathering new ideas to go try! What a blessing to go build new memories with the one you love!
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
14. Be silly. Laugh with each other and have a blast! Relationships don’t have to be serious all the time. It is so much fun if you just let go, and like I said earlier, enjoy each other’s company. Learn about your partner’s sense of humor and what makes them laugh or what makes them cringe. I am a big fan of sarcasm, but my boyfriend is definitely not. I will just about take your life if you try to tickle me, but he loves being tickled. Always try new ways to make your boyfriend/girlfriend laugh and keep things lighthearted. Seeing your significant other laugh is a GREAT reminder of how much you appreciate them and why.
“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4
15. Give your relationship to God. MOST IMPORTANT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything you do in your life should be for the glory of God. If you truly give control over to God and are willing to trust Him and follow His will over your own, you will be able to accomplish great things. God knows you inside and out! He knows both of you far better than you know yourselves, so trust me when I say that your relationship will be in GREAT hands. You won’t ever have to be worried or anxious when you place something in the hands of the Almighty Powerful and Gracious Creator of the Universe. He certainly has your back! Keep your faith at the center of your relationship and never forget to pray for and with each other. Remind them that God loves them even more than you do! Study the bible together! Go on a mission trip together! Spread the gospel together! Go to church together! Join a bible study together! Just imagine the strides that two people can make for the Lord’s Kingdom if they take the focus off each other and put it on Christ…
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33
I hope these things will help and bless your relationships! Comment if you have any further questions or so I can be praying for you!