Have you ever taken notice of what others say about your relationship? Have you paid attention to the body language others express when they are with you and your sweetie? Though you should not bend to please everyone in your lives, it is good to take notice of how the world, your family, and your friends perceive you and your sweetie.
If a few people think your relationship is unhealthy, but everyone else thinks you are a great couple, then you can chalk your critics up to being jealous or ill-informed. However, if several prominent people in your life have concerns, you should sit up and pay attention. Which concerns do they have?
What do you want your family, friends, and strangers to see when they look at your relationship? A couple who is so engrossed in each other that they have no time to connect with the rest of the world? A couple who is friendly, engaging, and inclusive? A couple who spends a lot of time canoodling in public? A couple who seems determined to keep Christ in the center of their connection?
If Eric and I were in the dating phase of our relationship again, I would want the follow statements to be made about us:
- They have healthy boundaries. In retrospect, it is clear to me that I allowed myself to become too wrapped up in Eric. Even though we were clearly headed for the altar, I made him my whole life. When we were apart, I would push past anyone in my path to get to the phone at our scheduled time. When we were in the same town, I would plan my life around being with him. If I were in that place now, I would want us to create healthy boundaries. To have time together, time apart, and time together with friends. And, I would want to treasure our time together, but not feel as though the world was falling down around me if we had to go a few days without seeing each other. I would hope to remain completely me instead of losing myself in him.
- They do not exclude others. Though I don’t think Eric and I meant to exclude others, we probably did without meaning to. We were a lovey dovey couple. (Yes, we were that couple.) We didn’t know how to hold our cuddles in public. Years later, a co-worker of mine remembered me as the girl from that couple who cuddled in church. I don’t think hugs, holding hands, and heads on shoulders are sickening (as some do), but I would recommend being mindful of your surroundings. If you are too into each other, other people will naturally shy away from you love birds! Strive to be an inviting couple who make others feel comfortable. Otherwise, you may miss out on some pretty great friendships.
- They prioritize each other well. Though Eric and I were too wrapped up in each other when our love was new, I would still want us to prioritize time together if we had it to do over again. Some couples are extremely active in their communities, churches, and families, leaving little time to invest in each other. I respect couples who neither neglect nor overindulge in their relationships. ~smile~
- They continue to work on themselves. It’s so neat to see couples taking classes together, going to book clubs together, taking risks together, and generally trying to better themselves. If we become complacent, we will fall into a rut. If Eric and I were dating now, I would want others to say, “They are taking life by the horns instead of waiting for life to happen to them!”
- They have a Christ-centered connection. Those of us who are Christ-followers should be striving each day to know Him more and to be more like Him. It warms my heart and inspires me when I see a young person sold out to Christ – not only emotionally, but in his or her actions. It excites me all the more when I see a young couple serving God together. Couples can do so much more for the cause of Christ together than they can separately – if they are running towards the same goal. When we were dating, I would have loved to hear someone say, “Christ must truly be at the center of their young love. He’s going to do great and mighty works through them!”
What do you want others to say about your relationship? Are they saying it? If not, ask your families and friends what they see when they look at you and your sweetie. Invite them to be honest. Take what they say and grow from it!
“Sometimes I feel like you don’t have time for your friends anymore.”
“You guys argue a lot in public and it makes us uncomfortable.”
“It concerns us that you can never come to a family gathering without her.”
“You seem to be so wrapped up in him that you are losing sight of who you are and what you enjoy.”
If you hear some of these comments, be on guard to not take offense. Take the time to digest what they say, learn from it, and try to implement some changes. Obviously, ask people you trust whose opinions matter to you!
What do you want the world to see when they look at your relationship?