What does it take to be safe in a relationship, to experience and give value to another?
The answer really requires us to ask another question, a really big question. What is the purpose of relationship, any relationship? Relationships can exist for many reasons, but some tend to yield more positive fruit than others. If our reason for relationship is that we might get something without having to pay for it, then the purpose rises from the fact that we are cheap, or selfish, or shallow. And you know the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Convenience, loneliness, boredom, challenge, rescue, tradition, pressure, money. These and many more reasons could be given as answers to the question of the purpose of any given relationship. But is there a bigger purpose for relationship, and if so, where did it come from?
For me, the purpose for my relationship with my wife is much different. My purpose for the relationship directs the motives of everything I do in that relationship. It motivates me to be a better person than I would be otherwise. I want what is best, not for me, but for my spouse. I choose to not do anything that would jeopardize her well-being. I see the purpose of marriage being the active reflection of the care and concern of God for my spouse, a care and concern that found its ultimate expression in the life of Jesus. Safety in relationship happens when each partner is more concerned about the welfare of their spouse than they are about themselves. But boy is this hard!
Our answer to the big questions of life does influence the choices we make in relationship. Safety in relationship is about knowing that the other person has your best interest in mind. We need to know that they are not going to use what we say as ammunition in the next fight. Safety is based on our knowledge of the other person, their history of injuring us, or of being an instrument of healing to us.
So what is the purpose of your relationship? You must answer this question in order to provide direction for your journey. Maybe now is the time to develop a mission statement for your relationship. Take time to think, write, reflect, talk, chew, and maybe even get some outside feedback on what you come up with. When the two of you can come together and write a unified mission statement for your relationship it can guide the individual decisions that get made. We all have a missions statement, whether we write it down or not. So often couples don’t share the same goals for the relationship and that is the root of all sorts of problems.
So how do we develop safety? We will begin to discuss this next time, here at Bulletproof Marriage.