Effort is required for good relationships

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love is in the air. Everywhere you look for the next several days will be an ad somewhere trying to convince you the product they are selling will be the best tool to convince your significant other to be in love with you.

The Bible has much to say about love and expressing it. The Old Testament the "Song of Solomon" is full of expressing romantic and sensual love between husband and wife. There is one verse though from the New Testament that gives some great guidelines for what God has to say about all of our relationships, from the most important to the most casual.

Romans 12:18 reads, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

God tells us all relationships, especially the most intimate and romantic, are not accidental. Meaning that while our feelings may seem to spring from nowhere, for our relationships to last beyond the feelings there must be some intentional effort and work.

I get the opportunity to officiate weddings. One of the exercises I work through with an engaged couple helps them to think through expectations that they have of each other. This is a list of simple, boring, everyday stuff. Things like: Who will take out the trash? Who will pay the bills? Who will grocery shop? Who will make sure that there is air in the car tires? Normal, everyday stuff.

Every time I go through this exercise, two things happen. First, the couple protests because they agree on everything. Second, after they do the exercise both realize that she has expectations of him, and he of her, and neither of them realized they had that expectation. No matter how similar they appear, how much alike they are, how closely their worldviews align, they are still two unique people.

Every Valentine's Day reminds me of the phrase "it depends on you" in this verse.

Such a simple and powerful reminder that what I do, what I say has such tremendous power on the outcome of my relationships. Whether in my relationship with my wife, my children, my parents or friends, what happens in our relationship is highly dependent on the amount of effort I put forth. My efforts are not a guarantee, but without effort my relationships are guaranteed to fail.

Having a great Valentines in February requires remembering Valentine's Day the other 11 months of the year.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.

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