Sometimes I feel weird about writing about my relationship with Ridge. I feel like since I’m not married, I don’t necessarily have the credibility to give advice on how to maintain a relationship. I also feel like I’m a complete amateur when it comes to relationships because I’ve only had a couple and I’m only 19 years old. Relationships can be so much more complex than what I’m experiencing now, and marriage is something totally more involved than just dating, and I realize that. But I also realize that if I want to eventually have a beautiful, God-centered marriage, I should learn how to have a healthy, God-centered relationship now.
I also believe that whether you are in a relationship or not, it’s important to determine what kind of partner you want to devote your time to and also what kind of partner you want to be. So many people my age place no value on relationships. And that makes me so sad. They just ramble on from person to person without caring about the damage they leave behind. That’s the farthest thing from what love should be.
A phrase that I’ve always heard is “Be the type of friend that you would want to meet.” I find that really helpful and also really convicting. Would I want to be friends with someone like me? Sometimes yes I would. Sometimes no.
The same thing applies to dating. Be the partner that you would want to be in a relationship with. Every standard I hold for a boyfriend, I should be able to exceed for myself.
If I want Ridge to be honest, I have to make myself honest.
If I expect Ridge to be sensitive to my feelings, I must be sensitive to his.
If I were to get upset because I felt like Ridge wasn’t listening to me, I have to take a look at myself and think, Do I listen to him when he talks to me? Do I give him my complete attention when he speaks?
The hard part about this is that we want to focus on what the other person can do for us, instead of what we can do for them. Loving Ridge should be more important to me than loving myself. It’s a constant struggle to choose him over myself. Not because he’s hard to love or because I don’t love him as much as I should, but because my human nature (like everyone else’s) is so strong. Our human nature insists that the world revolves around us.
But once you’re in a relationship with someone, married or not, you’re sharing a portion of your life with another person. And they’re sharing a portion of their life with you. You’re making an important commitment to another human being that you value them and their existence. It can’t be all about you.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV
Jesus didn’t love selfishly. He gave his own life for people who didn’t even love him back- that’s the most selfless act there is. And we are called to love as he loved, to love without our own selfish desires getting in the way.
I think so many issues in relationships would be resolved if the focus became less self-centered. Ridge is so much better at all of this than I am, but concentrating on the other’s happiness more than your own makes your issues seem so much smaller. I also think it creates much more happiness in the relationship.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 KJV
The word “love” is replaced with “charity” in these verses of the King James Bible. Charity is what love derives from. Charity means to give up something of yourself for the sake of another. That’s the most basic aspect of love- sacrificing yourself for the one you love. Having a God centered relationship -whether dating, marriage, or just a friendship- involves putting another person’s needs, feelings, and happiness over your own. When two people are choosing to love one another over fulfilling their own desires- that’s when a relationship becomes beautiful.