Sometimes, when I go out to eat I embarrass my family. Well, mostly I embarrass my kids. I love to ask the server one of two questions. And now, I would like to ask you one of those questions. Your answer to this question will impact how you treat other people in your life. Your answer is probably the number one driving force in how you treat your spouse, or how you treat those you love.
Even if you are bad at relationships, and seem to have one bad relationship after another you have an answer to this question and it is effecting your life. Your life is probably more shaped by your answer to this question than any other force in your life, even if you don’t realize it. Are you ready for it? Will you do me a favor? Will you go and grab a piece of paper and a pen? I’d like for you to write the answer to my question down on the paper. If you get more than one answer, I would love for you to write as many down as you can.
Whatever comes to mind, just write it down.
What do you think is the single one more important thing to making a relationship work? What went through your head? Did something immediately spring to mind? Sometimes, people look at me and say that there is not just one thing but that there is actually many things so I ask them to throw two or three at me. In your case, just write them down on the paper. What came to mind? I have compiled an official list over the years of answers I have received from various people. I’ve listed a few of them for you below.
◆ Common goals/interests
◆ Common spiritual beliefs
◆ Similar ethnic backgrounds
◆ Hard work
I actually think that all these things are great. On one hand it is a fantastic list. A strong relationship will have all of these elements in it. In fact, the healthier the relationship the more these things will be in the relationship. But—you knew there was one coming didn’t you—these things are not the most important thing in my mind. They are important. But there are marriages that all have these things that end up in divorce. What was your answer? Do you know anyone who has had that “thing” whatever it is in their relationship and they still ended up divorced? I know someone who had had at least one of those and sometimes more than one characteristics in their marriage and the marriage still ended in divorce.
I have a strong connection with many faith communities and the city that I live in is inundated with a high church population. Often, I hear people say that having a similar faith is the key. Sadly, the numbers do not bear this out. Look them up, you will find that people inside the church are getting divorced at the same rate as people outside the church. I have had too many people tell me that they loved their spouse but they had to get divorced—even if they didn’t really want to get one. Love and church do not seem to be a safe insulator against divorce.
I think that all of these things lead to one thing and I think that one thing is the most important thing. I wonder why we take something as emotional as relationships and take emotion out of it.
What is your answer? Tell me in the comments. I’ll tell you mine tomorrow.